2022 MBA To Watch: Marie Kober, ESMT Berlin

Marie Kober

ESMT Berlin

“Passionate about creating space for innovative solutions and building great team culture.”

Hometown: Speyer, Germany

Fun fact about yourself: As part of a side project, I created a public media presence for funny dating chats and published a book.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Computer-aided Design, FH Kaiserslautern

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? DHL Express, Key Account Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I spent the summer working on my start-up, a B2B SaaS for SME logistics departments across all industries. I have over five years of industry experience and the solution addresses some of the core issues my customers faced.

Where will you be working after graduation? Working on my start-up. We’re currently building a prototype to establish a problem-solution fit with pilot customers.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I won three public start-up pitch contests hosted by ESMT in 2021: the Digital Future Summit Pitch, the Vali Internal Demo Day, and the Final Demo Day Presentation. As a member of the Vali cohort and NEXT program, I supported multiple startups with building their website, creating a logo, German legal topics, and customer acquisition strategies. I am also a supporter of the ESMT Women in Leadership Club.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Returning to academic studies after having worked for several years is a big adjustment. Additionally, almost all of the MBA courses covered new ground for me, since my background is in design. I am thrilled that I was able to achieve excellent results in demanding courses such as financial accounting and corporate finance. Further, I am proud to have made it through the MBA and the Vali entrepreneurship program at the same time. The intensity of the one-year MBA during the day was compounded by the Vali Entrepreneurship program at night. Being part of two demanding programs simultaneously meant doing double shifts of classes, workshops, events, fireside chats, and pre- and post-work. Therefore, I am extremely happy to have completed the MBA with great results and to have won the Vali’s Final Demo Day Pitch and the Digital Future Summit Pitch with my start-up.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the breadth of experience I’ve gained throughout my career. Spanning 10 years of experience, I’ve worked for a large global company, a VC-funded start-up, and multiple agencies focused on Design, User Experience, and IT consultancy. I’ve held roles in account management, as a deputy sales team manager, and in marketing, business development, and UX-design. Combining these cross-functional experiences with my formal business education, I feel well prepared to build my own business or take on an impactful role in an organization.

Why did you choose this business school? There are many reasons why I chose ESMT. First and foremost, ESMT provides a high-quality business education. The school has a strong focus both on entrepreneurship and the formal corporate environment. In my opinion, it offers high value for both career paths. Lastly, it is one of the most prestigious business schools in Europe and the #1 Business School in Germany.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I am impressed by so many of the professors at ESMT. If I have to pick one, it would be Guillermo Baquero. Guillermo taught us Corporate Finance, first in a virtual, then a hybrid, and lastly an offline setting. His enthusiasm and dedication towards teaching is unparalleled. He managed to engage the cohort at all times, keeping us on the edge of our seats with cold calls, weekly assignments, individual feedback, and recordings for more in depth-explanations. Guillermo’s warm and energizing demeanor in combination with the extensive post-class assignments really helped cement the many learnings of his course.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Due to COVID-19, we had a very untraditional year. Yet, the MBA Office at ESMT went above-and-beyond to host events in accordance with the constantly changing regulations. Looking back, my favorite event was probably ”Sports Day.” There’s just something about friendly athletic competition and enjoying a “Radler” together after the match.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The first three months of our MBA program were completely online due to COVID-19 regulations. While ESMT did a great job of creating an interactive online environment, getting to know each other on a personal level was difficult. We are a very diverse cohort of 24 nationalities with many interesting life stories and backgrounds. Reflecting on how great my classmates are and how quickly the year went by, I would make a bigger effort of reaching out during those first three “virtual” months.

What is the biggest myth about your school? ESMT is a comparatively new business school and still less well-known by the general public than some of its direct domestic competitors. However, after familiarizing myself with the topic of MBA programs, I discovered that ESMT’s reputation is impeccable and its ratings are on a steep upwards trajectory. The time I have now spent at ESMT has only strengthened my high opinion of the school.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most was how well curated the content of the courses were. For example, concepts were introduced in such a way that they reappeared across different courses at opportune times. This allowed us to comprehend the concept from multiple angles and fostered a well-rounded, thorough understanding. Besides that, I was pleasantly surprised by my cohort, which consisted of 49 intelligent, inspiring, and kind individuals.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? In my experience, the closer the business school’s aspirations match your own, the more natural the process will feel. In my case, ESMT’s initiative to empower women that want to move into leadership roles matched well with my future career ambitions.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a tough question because I admire so many of my MBA classmates. One of my peers that I admire the most is Carlee Benson. Carlee is very structured and intelligent, yet always approachable and supportive. Last year, she managed three roles simultaneously and fulfilled each one excellently. She was a full-time MBA student, freelancer for a start-up, and class representative for the entire year.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents have taught me the value of education early on in my life. However, my final decision to pursue an MBA was inspired by my partner and his journey of becoming a film director. For more than ten years, he has relentlessly pushed forward on a career path that is difficult, unsteady, and comes with less-than-ideal success rates. This year, he directed his first big cinematic movie, which is coming to theaters 2023. I’m deeply impressed by his resilience, which continues to inspire me to pursue my own ambitions.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The first item on my bucket is to build a successful, women-led company in the logistics-tech space. Leveraging the network and experience of having built one company, my next bucket list item is to found a sustainability-focused business. I’ve been involved in biodiversity and conservation efforts on a voluntary basis. To make a positive impact in this space on a professional level would be a dream-come true.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has had a huge impact on society and has affected me in many ways. Embracing uncertainty is one thing I learned from the pandemic. COVID-19 has made me realize how quickly life can change in entirely unexpected ways and how valuable it is to take charge of the present moment. In terms of my view on career, it has highlighted the importance of actively seeking challenges even if I don’t feel entirely prepared for them.

What made Marie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Marie has brought an important creative and entrepreneurial spark to the class. As the director of the Vali Berlin entrepreneurship hub, I have witnessed her team’s journey from the initial business idea to winning over judges at several startup competitions. Their success reflects a brilliant entrepreneurial opportunity, deep industry knowledge, as well as the founders’ passion and charisma. Marie has also been a great asset in the classroom – she has shared her experiences and challenges with classmates, helping create engaging and problem-oriented class discussions.

Despite the heavy workload for courses and her start-up, Marie has been extremely generous with time and advice as a speaker or mentor at workshops and other events. As an entrepreneurial role model, she has been a true inspiration for ESMT classmates and other Vali program participants. I look forward to seeing her start-up take off and to having Marie join our community of entrepreneurial alumni. All in all, Marie is clearly one of the “Best and Brightest” – she has had serious impact during her time at ESMT and I am convinced she will have even greater impact with her ideas and leadership after graduation.”

Henry Sauermann
Professor at ESMT Berlin
Holder of the ESMT Chair in Entrepreneurship
Director of the Institute for Endowment Management and Entrepreneurial Finance (IFEE)


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