2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Steffen Baecker, IE Business School

Steffen Baecker

IE Business School

“I am an inquisitive global citizen, passionate about making the world a more sustainable place.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Remscheid, Germany

Fun fact about yourself: I have been a digital nomad in Latin America for one year. During my travels, I nearly lost the tip of my right middle finger. While in the Amazonas, I was inattentive for just a second when I untangled a Piraña from an old fishing net.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

HHL Graduate School of Management, M.Sc. in Management

FOM University, B.A. International Management

Where are you currently working? Marketing Analytics Manager at Walbusch Walter Busch GmbH & Co. KG

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my previous role as International Marketing Manager at Gira, a German smart home manufacturer, I was in charge of an internal change campaign intending to engage all internal stakeholders for the company’s internationalization strategy.

I am proud of this project as it included communication across all departments and levels of seniority. And I enjoyed having been in permanent exchange with the international offices to prepare the content for the employees of the German HQ.

This project taught me valuable project management principles, such as how to manage agencies and (most, importantly) how to be empathic and engage people. I also had the opportunity to try on some journalistic skills as the project included researching for and writing editorial contributions.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? IE Business School has a long record of doing online programs and its good reputation and ranking for the Global Online MBA caught my attention. What ultimately convinced me was the program’s flexible structure and the diversity of students who come from all over the world.

And I love Spain, so it has always been a dream of mine to graduate from a Spanish university.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The discussions with my cohort were the most inspiring part for me. There were many passionate discussions from which I gained a new perspective—particularly in the asynchronous forum discussions, when a case study is scrutinized from different angles depending on a student’s background and personality. The professors did an excellent job to moderate the discussions and bring together all of these different opinions, resulting in a consolidated and 360° view of the topic at hand.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Being connected digitally allows you to use technology and multimedia with ease; having no geographical restrictions also allows you to live your life, such as taking weekend trips with friends without missing classes. I have attended the sessions from five different countries.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Allow yourself to be vulnerable and share this vulnerability with your friends, family, and also teammates. The flexibility of studying anywhere at any given time can also be overwhelming. Share how you feel and ask for help – and be open for other people to share their tough times with you. You may be surprised how much energy can come from expressing yourself with honesty.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Online programs don’t offer a lot of physical contact with your peers, especially when they are taking the class from all over the world. So, it would be nice to have more informal sessions to interact with your cohort in a more informal environment.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I began the Online MBA prior to the start of the pandemic. Thanks to the online program, I had strengthened the necessary skills for collaborating via digital platforms, and had established a routine for maintaining relationships when you do not physically see your colleagues every day. So, with this skill set already in place, I adapted quickly to the new workplace situation and was able to also help my colleagues to get accustomed to the new environment both in terms of technical questions and emotional support.

Moreover, the program prepared me with the practice of presenting online. It is way more difficult to catch people’s attention without body language cues. I also learned that one’s voice can be  a powerful instrument for emphasizing certain points.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 30 hours on average.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I enjoyed my time at the university so much that I want to see the classroom from the other side and become a researcher and professors myself. I envision making the world a better place by researching consumer behaviour concerning sustainability and educating the upcoming generations.

My next step in reaching this goal is to do a PhD, which I will start this September – also at IE Business School!


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