If proof were needed that ESMT is no ordinary business school, just check out its location: in the former National Council building of the old East German state, where the stand-out feature is a spectacular, 20-meter-high socialist realist stained-glass window depicting the GDR’s heroic workers.
Berlin is one of the world’s coolest, most exciting, and innovative cities. ESMT reflects those values about as well as a business school could. Founded in 2002 by 25 mostly German multinational businesses, it is one of just four triple-accredited schools in Germany. Its most recent full-time MBA cohort had 68 students from 34 countries, with 40% from Asia and 21% from Latin America. The class, whose average age was 30, mainly had backgrounds in engineering (31%) and business/management (22%).
ESMT is keen to go beyond the old one-size-fits-all MBA, and is striving to personalize the course as much as possible. It is continually improving pre-course evaluations and looking at staggered onboarding and graduation points to suit individual students.
Following a recent overhaul, the full-time MBA program now has three focuses: one, integrated thinking, on the grounds that the traditional silo-ed courses (microeconomics, marketing, etc.) don’t reflect the more fluid nature of modern business; two, digital thinking, because jobs have changed and students need to be experts in innovation management, business model innovation, change, and disruption; and three, creativity. The new-look ESMT MBA will encourage students to think innovatively and to take more control over their learning process.
ESMT’s MBA will have a shorter core segment and more electives and career-oriented options. The idea is to produce leaders with a T-shaped expertise: competence across the range of MBA subjects and skills, complemented by a deep knowledge in one area. The focus will be on fostering business intelligence — for example, linking R&D with business outcomes — to promote innovation management and leverage the school’s location in Berlin to sharpen students’ entrepreneurial skills. For those looking at more traditional jobs, there will be plenty of interaction with industry, too.
Matt Averna, MBA 2018:
I was working for a nonprofit in New York but had moved into a project management role and felt I needed to round off my skill set through an MBA. ESMT stood out because it had a more holistic curriculum than other schools I researched, with more flexibility. It is also strong on the social entrepreneur side, which appealed to someone with my background. I wanted to study abroad because I felt that I really wanted to challenge myself, and I felt being in Berlin would achieve that. In terms of post-MBA jobs, the German economy is strong and there are a lot of jobs in Berlin that are in English, so that could be a good option for people who might feel able to take a job in German.
Nick Barniville, Associate Dean of Degree Programs
Our MBA is shaped by two things. One, it is in Germany, meaning that we have a technology and innovation focus which mirrors the German economy. Many of our graduates find their first post-MBA jobs in Germany, so in many ways we are preparing them to work in this economy and we have employability boot camps to help them with that. But secondly, we are in Berlin, which brings a strong entrepreneurial flavor as well. Berlin is a very cosmopolitan city, many languages are spoken, and it is a very fluid, tolerant, and accepting place that is open to new ideas. That naturally gives us a very strong focus on innovation that comes through in many elements of the MBA.
ESMT lists an example of companies that have recruited the school’s Graduate MBAs over the last three years.