2019 MBAs To Watch: Robbie Wiedenmann, London Business School

Robbie Wiedenmann

London Business School

“I’m a German-American, positive and approachable, love sharing stories and building long-lasting relationships.”

Hometown: Berlin, Germany

Fun fact about yourself: One of only a few Germans that loves US country music

Undergraduate School and Degree: American University, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and International Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? KPMG US, Deal Advisory Manager, Financial Due Diligence

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Amazon, Berlin

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon, Launch/ MBA Leadership Development Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: 

LBS Class of 2021 Welcome Weekend Student Speaker – Selected by the Admissions Team to address the incoming Class of 2021 at Welcome Weekend.
Tech Peer Leader – Provided 120+ hours of support and mentoring to LBS students interested in pursuing careers in technology. Conducted mock interviews with students who applied to Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.
Student Ambassador – Interacted with 300+ prospective and admitted students regarding their business school and specifically LBS aspirations.
MC PE/VC Conference – Selected to act as Master of Ceremony at last year’s Private Equity/ Venture Capital conference with 250+ participants.
LBS Perspectives – LBS Perspectives is a unique speaker series that showcases the student body’s diversity. I led a 75-minute session in which I shared my perspective on how Germans today deal with our Nazi history. The session was attended by 80+ students and received excellent feedback.
LBS for Good – Led a 3.5-hour workshop at the Mulberry School for Girls focused on confidence building, public speaking, and financial literacy.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Last year, I initiated the Berlin Tech Trek. The trek showcased a four-day excursion to Berlin that brought 23 LBS students together with various Berlin-based technology companies. We visited a mix of corporate heavyweights such as SAP and Axel Springer, rising startup unicorns including wefox and onefootball, as well as venture capital houses such as EarlyBird and PointNine.

What made the Berlin Tech Trek even more exciting is that we attracted significant media attention. We were featured on the Berlin evening news as well as the local radio.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My promotion to manager at KPMG in October 2016 is definitely an achievement I am proud of. After five years at the firm, I felt that the promotion was a token of appreciation for the hard work and long hours I had dedicated to my clients.

What made the promotion especially meaningful was that I was promoted along with my now-wife Maria. Maria and I met at KPMG in Munich on our first day at work and have been a team since. Throughout our time at KPMG we have supported each other and grown together always trying to raise the bar.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Aneeta Rattan! I took both of her organizational behavior classes during my first year and loved both of them. Aneeta is a next-generation professor. The woman is a boss! In her research, she focuses on mindsets and intergroup relations (stereotyping, prejudice, and inequity) and is able to bring that knowledge to life in the classroom. As a lecturer, Aneeta is hyper-prepared and laser-focused on highest standards of participation. What impressed me most is her ability to set the record straight on pressing gender inequality issues. Aneeta is the reason why I decided to specialize in ‘Change Management’ at LBS.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Paths to Power! The course title may sound daunting but that is exactly the tension the course tries to explore. On one hand, few people feel comfortable saying, “I want power.” On the other hand, people who have power are generally known to have longer, wealthier, and more self-determined lives. So, what’s the issue?

The course taught me to see the benefits of power. I learned what it means to be myself, strategically –particularly when it comes to building relationships within organizations. There is so much more that we need to do to be successful in our careers than simply being good at our jobs.

Why did you choose this business school? I came to LBS for three reasons: the city of London, the global network, and the opportunity to transition my career out of consulting.

I spent the last 27 years living and working between Germany and the United States. London felt like the perfect place in-between. For me, LBS represented a launchpad from which I could explore career opportunities locally, mainland Europe, and the US.

Next, my network before joining LBS was a product of my upbringing and hence very German-American. I wanted to grow more of an international network because I am convinced that the top flights of business are run by global thinkers. My new LBS network gives me instant access to the world.

Finally, after six years in consulting, I was ready for a change. I knew that LBS was strong at placing students in tech and hence decided to give the school a try. I went through the Amazon on-campus recruiting process and am happy to say that I already signed a full-time contract for my time after graduation!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Think about your application as if you are applying for a new job. Do your homework. Be prepared and know why you want to get an MBA from a particular school. Most importantly, don’t just submit an application without making sure you have connected with the school. You need to be convinced that when the Admissions Team picks up your application, they can put a face to your name.

What I did for LBS was that I attended an event hosted by the admissions team in Boston and spoke with all panelists. The following weekend I attended the QS World Tour in New York and reintroduced myself to the admissions team. I was worried that David Simpson, our Head of Admissions, might start getting annoyed with me but at least I was sure he knew that I was eager and motivated to pursue my MBA at LBS.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  LBS is commonly known to have the “most international MBA in the world.” I did not realize how real the diversity at LBS was until I actually experienced it firsthand. Here is an excerpt from my Welcome Weekend speech that I gave two months ago:

“On the first day of the program, the Dean invited our whole class to Old Billingsgate for a type of induction ceremony. A part of the program was lunch with the new study group. Now, for anyone who ever wondered what an arranged marriage must feel like, meeting your study group for the first time probably comes very close. In any case, introducing ourselves was slightly awkward but one thing stuck: not only were all of us from different industries, but also each of us were from a different continent! Nicola from Australia, Lavanya from India, Jonathan from San Francisco, Kennedell from Ghana, Luis from Brazil and myself from Germany. Over the last year, the six of us have learned from each other, raised the bar on our academic achievements, and challenged our outlook on life.”

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? Applying to business school was a long, tiring, and sometimes very frustrating process. From the beginning of my GMAT studies back in September 2014, I struggled with the exam and dealing with the setbacks along the way was tough. The problem was that I didn’t know if the pain would end up being worth it. I wish I knew then how amazing and hence worthwhile my MBA experience would be.

My story is meant to be a word of encouragement for anyone going through the process and possibly encountering some of the same struggles I dealt with. Remember, you will forget all of the pain when you walk into the business school of your dreams on Day 1.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you?  My LBS MBA has been a #whirlwind of an experience! It touched pretty much every walk of my life.

Professionally, I was able to pull off the infamous MBA Triple Jump. According to a Poets and Quants article from 2014, “The triple jump is the most difficult thing an MBA student can pull off. For many, it might well be the hardest challenge they’ll tackle over a lifetime. Just a select few attempt it – and even fewer succeed. It is the ultimate act of reinvention.”

After my MBA, I will be working in a new industry, a new role, and new geography. I am excited that Amazon bought into my potential and I look forward to the challenges ahead.

Personally, the past two years have been equally transformative. I got engaged to my girlfriend during the first term and we just got married last summer in the break between both years. We were super lucky that a bunch of friends from the MBA could attend our wedding in Berlin. A truly unforgettable and deeply meaningful experience.

Last but not least, we got a puppy a couple of weeks ago. Toomi is the cherry on my MBA cupcake.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have the greatest amount of admiration and respect for my classmate and friend Sarah Bertram. I met Sarah last year when we worked together on a consulting project for ProdigyFinance, a London-based FinTech startup that provides loans to students studying outside of their home countries.

Sarah is not only a hyper-organized/A+ performer, but she also acts professionally on the issues that are most important for her personally. Last year, Sarah initiated the LBS Mental Health Week, which was a blockbuster success and was heavily supported by Dean Francois Ortalo-Magne. Over the summer, she co-founded a mental health startup called The Smile Tribe on which she has been working relentlessly.

Look out for big things to come from this positive and energetic young lady in the future.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My last undergraduate class at American University’s Kogod School of Business was with Dr. Richard Linowes, who turned out to be a role model. Richard’s mission to educate the future generation of global business leaders was inspiring. In the classroom, he drew from an impressive tenure working for companies around the world, including Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, Ltd., in Osaka, Japan and Goldman Sachs in New York City.

At the time, Richard recommended that I step out into the business world and get some real-world experience. He said that I can then always return to business school to refocus. I took Richard’s advice.

Like Richard, I would someday love to be back in the classroom as an educator.

What is your favorite movie about business? I have a soft spot for The Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith and his son Jayden Smith. The movie taught me that achieving your dreams is hard work and having a family does not make that job easier. I am excited to see how my wife and I will deal with the challenges that we have in front of us.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? MBA – Me Before Anyone.

As I leave the MBA program and rejoin the workforce, I am determined to maintain my humility and not overestimate my abilities.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in a tech startup in Boston, trying to prove my abilities outside of finance and accounting.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? This is a tough one and everyone has to apply their own scoring system. One thing that I have learned is that people do an MBA for very different reasons. For some, securing the highest-paying job is the number one priority. Others use the experience to rebrand themselves and launch an entirely new career. For others, the value is in getting some time off and using that time to meet new people and travel the world.

I came LBS to do a mix of the above and I am super happy with how things have turned out. My advice to future MBAs would be not to go through a sophisticated ROI calculation, but rather be open to everything your MBA program has to offer. At the end of the day, yes, the costs of an MBA program are very high but to end with a cliché, the experiences are priceless.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? The next thing on my bucket is hopefully to start a family! In case I find time and money, the other item on my bucket list is to go fly fishing in Alaska someday.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Robbie was the guy who rode his wife’s mint green bicycle around, was super approachable and easy going, got his recruiting out of the way early and spent the rest of his MBA doing the things he loved.

Hobbies? Yes, next to an MBA I still have hobbies. I find time to practice yoga, go running in Regent’s Park, and fly fish once in a blue moon.

What made Robbie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Robbie has been a pleasure to work with throughout his MBA and even before he started! We expect strong applicants to recognize and really want to join London Business School because of the things that make us special and unique – our diversity, global community, collaborative student environment and amazing opportunities from our London location. Robbie certainly made the most of all of these. He recognized more than anyone that to get the most out of the LBS MBA, you have to contribute huge amounts too. He seems to have been part of so much on campus and beyond. Robbie’s energy and positive personality is exactly what we want every student to have.”

David Simpson
Admissions Director, MBA and Masters in Finance
London Business School

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