The St. Gallen MBA: What You Need To Know
If you’re looking for a job in the European business world, then St. Gallen’s MBA program is a great segway into the market. Located just an hour’s train ride from Zurich, St. Gallen places about two-thirds of its MBA class into Swiss jobs, with a further 10% finding employment in Germany. St. Gallen is not the biggest school in the industry, but it does have 84 nationalities in its alumni network, and a very positive reputation locally.
Another reason to attend? Plain and simple, people love Switzerland. In addition to the many work-related reasons to be here, it is also a beautiful country. Students regularly ski and hike in the Alps, visit museums, attend art fairs such Art Basel, and generally enjoy the high quality of infrastructure like the Swiss trains and the cleanliness of the city.
The MBA is a very practical program, with lots of emphasis on the skills graduates will need to flourish there. As is the St. Gallen way, students integrate their new knowledge immediately in electives and in-house projects. Playing into the overarching theme of practicality, 80% of elective classes are now taught by practitioners such as managers from Microsoft and Amazon, rather than professors which serves to ensure the information students receive is up-to-date, and also for making industry connections.
The most recent addition to the full-time one-year program is that the Core Phase of courses is now 5 modules. Each module is a three-week long “sprint” with focuses or “lenses” in Purpose, People, Invest, Customer and Innovate. Each of these lenses focuses on a different industry: Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, Finance, Technology and Consulting. The end of each three-week phase ends in a team-based case study, which Academic Director, Professor Amanda Shantz’s favorite feature of the new design. “Teams exist to solve problems that individuals can’t solve alone,” she says.
The MBA finishes with three project options: a business plan, a research project, or complete a 10-12-week corporate project that involves solving a real-life business problem for a company.
Ewa Maciejewski, Head of MBA Programmes and Career Services
Being located in the Swiss-German context, our aim is to get people jobs in this part of the world, and most of our full-time MBAs stay in German-speaking Europe. We are very clear that students learn useful things that make them more employable and accelerate their careers. We are very precise and direct about what we are trying to achieve. Obviously, that includes the core MBA course and electives, but we also help people with “missing skills.” These can seem basic, like using Excel properly, but can make a huge difference to someone’s ability to analyze a problem properly. Our MBA is all about competencies that give people good, long-term careers.
Sarah Chian, MBA 2019
One thing that attracted me to St. Gallen was that the MBA is a one-year program, because the opportunity cost of a two-year program seemed too long to me. German classes are included in the course, which is useful for me because I want to move to Zurich afterward.
A unique thing about St. Gallen is the exam at the end of the core courses. You are given a case in the form of a newspaper article, then you have 24 hours to prepare and present in front of a jury of professors and CEOs or board members. It’s exciting and scary, but it feels very practical.
My aims have changed during the MBA. I thought I wanted to work in a tech company, but I have discovered that my passion lies in working with traditional businesses, coming up with digital transformation strategy. I have learned a lot about myself during the MBA.
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