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27.4.2020 | School of Business

Making the Right Choice for A New Career Blueprint

Manuel Wieland is a project manager at Aegerter & Bosshard AG, a company whose core business is in civil engineering in Basel, Switzerland. Manuel also doubles as the deputy in the project management and general contracting department.

Manuel started at A&B 11 years ago as a civil engineer after graduating with a Master of Engineering in 2009. Work was all about structural engineering calculations until he graduated with an MBA from FHNW and Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Business School, in 2017.

Choosing the Right MBA

Manuel-Wieland.pngLike most eager executives, Manuel understood that he needed to possess more business acumen to advance in his career. He had dreams of being in the ranks of management at his company so the natural thing to do was to secure his MBA. Choosing the right MBA and university was not a tough one to make. As Manuel resides in Basel, and did not want to travel far for an academic upgrade, he chose the FHNW Cross-Cultural Leadership / Edinburgh Business School MBA. The decision was an easier one to make as the course is conducted in English and he would earn two degrees from two universities! It was inevitable. This would be his choice as it also empowers him to seek employment abroad should he want to in the future.

Manuel liked the idea that he could study at his own pace with periodic tutored workshops that did not interrupt his work schedule or deadlines. He commends the partnership between the business schools from both FHNW and Heriot Watt University. Manuel iterates, “I completed all my core modules and electives at Basel, but opted to do one core module as an intensive week’s study at Edinburgh to experience a Scottish campus life.”

Manuel had several forms of study and resources made available to him throughout his learning experience. From traditional media of hardcopy textbooks to online platforms, his learning experience was limitless. He recommends the tutorials which take place prior to exams and study groups at the university over weekends which were instrumental in helping him focus and to complete coursework.

Balancing Work and Study

As it is to experience something good, something else has got to give. In Manuel’s case, it was to temporarily forgo social meetups on weekends and sporting activities. “I was focused 100% on getting it done as fast as possible, while still working 43-hour weeks, but the sacrifice was worth it,” exclaims this self-fulfilled project manager.

He is particularly proud of a couple of achievements. One, the Erweiterung Stadtcasino Basel project because he was able to tackle various aspects in construction due to the monumental size of the project, which included preservation of the structure and other design aspects as it is a former monastery. It proved to be challenging and interesting all at once. He adds that while every project is unique and the same structural design or architecture is never replicated, he is thrilled to expand his network through the people he meets at every juncture.

The second, his thesis. Coincidentally at the time he was due to start on his thesis, A&B was going through a restructuring. A new division was added to the company’s portfolio - project management and general contracting.

Applying New Skills

During discussions on the implementation of the new division, the question arose, “What do we need to do to ensure the successful implementation of this new division?” Manuel turned this into his thesis subject. It also helped that his bosses were supportive of his studies and provided him insights into the company which otherwise would be privy to only the board. It was a real-world case study and he could use the findings to not only help him with his MBA but also to set up an entire division at his company. And it did!

Manuel recommends the dual degree programme as he honed skills in holistic thinking and business processes and implementation. He tackles situations at work better as he now sees things from various perspectives before deriving a clear action strategy. He concludes best, “Many aspects of what I have learnt in my MBA relates to my work, especially when it comes to the management of projects.”