Skip to main content

31.8.2023 | School of Business

«This programme is a perfect fit for expanding my horizons and my network»

Patrick, student in the Swiss-Asian MBA, talks about his plans and motivation for joining this specialised programme.

Patrick, you started at Novartis with a chemistry background. Could you please elaborate your defining experiences and choices at the early stages of your career for us?
Patrick: From 2011 to 2014, I completed a three-year apprenticeship as a chemical lab technician at Novartis in Basel. I was inspired by the opportunity to learn how to conduct practical research and discover potential medicines for patients. Moreover, I always enjoyed doing chemistry experiments in school, which fuelled my desire to understand research from the ground up. Due to my excellent performance during those three years, I had the chance to participate in a one-year exchange programme (2014-2015) at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) headquarters in Cambridge, MA (USA). There, I was exposed to cutting-edge research in chemical biology.

Between September 2015 and March 2020, I completed my Bachelor and Master of Science studies at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), School of Life Sciences, with a focus on Chemistry and Life Sciences. While studying, I worked part-time in the field of in-vitro diagnostics, conducting research in various industry-related projects, including startups, focused on the development of Point-of-Care tests. I also completed my Bachelor Thesis abroad at University College London (UCL) within this field in 2018. Additionally, I conducted my Master Thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA (USA), gaining high-level skills, more experience in R&D, and valuable global networking opportunities. Later, I started a PhD at the University of Zurich (July 2020-Feb 2021), but I realized that my passion lies in applying my knowledge and experiences within the industry rather than pursuing research in academia.

Image 2.jpeg

I returned to NIBR in Basel as a Senior Scientist in March 2021, working on several drug discovery projects. This involves designing, optimizing, and developing novel compounds against specific targets, addressing rare diseases and developing the newest medical modalities and medicines. Although I didn't complete my PhD, I am strongly convinced that my 12 years of experience in Switzerland, the UK, and the US, along with my global network and entrepreneurial, inspirational, and intrinsically motivated mindset, also fit well with business-related aspects. My interest in business, combined with my scientific background and fascination with the Asian region, is underscored by my enrolment as a student within the Swiss-Asian MBA programme at FHNW since 2022, alongside my full-time employment. This MBA programme specializes in the Swiss and Asian markets and enhances my abilities and network within Asia. I am eager to learn more and continue growing. I believe that this programme fills the missing piece in my skill set, making me an expert in science and business fields worldwide.

What was your motivation for choosing to study in an MBA programme?
Starting an MBA programme alongside full-time employment is a significant commitment, requiring motivation, time, financial investment, and patience. I felt the desire to grow and expand my business skills. I have always been interested in gaining knowledge about how business works, understanding a company's financial aspects through analysing financial statements and balance sheets, and improving my communication, leadership, and management abilities. An MBA degree, in my opinion, is an investment that enhances personal and professional development. It energizes me to know that after completion in early 2024, I will have a good mix of skills in science and business. At present, I do not have any family responsibilities, so I can dedicate myself fully to this educational pursuit.

I chose the Swiss-Asian MBA programme for several reasons: I have gained years of experience and exposure to different cultures in Switzerland, the UK, and the US, and I have an interest in Asian culture. Hence, I believe this programme is a perfect fit for expanding my horizons and my network alike. I am always interested in exploring new cultures, ideas, and gaining inspiration! Additionally, the programme offers maximum flexibility as it is mainly conducted online, allowing me to maintain my full-time position. The residential weeks are attractive since they provide the opportunity to visit ASEAN-countries. The costs of the program are fair and affordable when compared to other MBA programmes, and the fact that the FHNW School of Business has received the important official accreditation from AACSB adds to its reputation. Lastly, having completed my science degrees at another faculty at FHNW, I know what to expect from the institution.

Image 3.jpeg

What do you gain from the Swiss-Asian MBA programme, and how do you plan to use the knowledge and skills to address future challenges?
The Swiss-Asian MBA programme covers a wide range of subjects, including finance, marketing, management, leadership, communication, conflict management, and digital transformation. Through these studies, individuals gain a deeper understanding of business concepts, frameworks, and best practices. It also supports the development of skills in critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, time management, and teamwork, combined with effective communication and collaboration.

The programme allows students to enhance their interpersonal and leadership skills. It provides a comprehensive business education with a special focus on the Asian market. An interesting aspect of this MBA programme is the diverse mix of students from different cultural and professional backgrounds and industries. The dedicated time for the MBA is approximately 10 hours per week, including group assignments, individual assignments, and forum discussions with colleagues. Group assignments are mainly a collaboration of 3-4 people with an emphasis on diversity, including both Asian and European students. This variety results in different approaches to achieve the same goal. Students can learn from each other by exploring and adapting to other cultures and perspectives, which also helps with career development, especially when working in a multicultural business.

The collaborative assignments are enjoyable and beneficial since they allow you to get to know your peers and learn about other professions. The class is characterized by a supportive environment, so there's no need to worry about feeling overwhelmed. We are a small class of 15-20 people with several assignments together during the 1.5 years, which results in a healthy workload. To foster career development, the Swiss-Asian MBA programme offers networking opportunities with students, professors, and other partners, especially during the residential weeks in specific countries such as Singapore and Thailand. Networking can lead to new job opportunities, mentorships, and access to industry partners, particularly in Asia.

As mentioned earlier, the MBA also teaches leadership and other soft skills highly valued in the corporate world. It also increases your knowledge if you aim for entrepreneurship and plan to run your own startup/company. The MBA programme also adds credibility and recognition to an individual's profile, signalling to employers that you have undergone intense training and are committed to succeeding in the business world. Lastly, the MBA degree enables you to switch fields of work and explore new career paths. In my case, I would have the opportunity to stay in science and apply my business knowledge within project leadership and management, or switch to another field within science, such as portfolio and strategy within R&D. Overall, an MBA degree offers a wide range of opportunities in the future, covering a vast amount of essential business skills.


You are currently working in the pharmaceutical industry. How do you think investing in an MBA degree will benefit your future career?
The MBA degree will enable me to implement and contribute learned business skills within my current pharmaceutical employer, contributing to their success in an ever-changing environment. It requires awareness of industry trends and adapting existing strategies.

I may be involved in tasks such as strategic planning to develop a clear vision and long-term goals, identifying market opportunities, assessing competition, or creating a roadmap for sustainable and profitable growth. Portfolio management and strategic decision-making might also be options. Additionally, I would be able to analyse financial data, monitor and analyse financial statements, and make informed decisions to optimize profitability.

The MBA skills would also allow me to contribute in sales/marketing, developing effective strategies, identifying target markets, and conducting market research, which could build strong relationships with healthcare professionals and key stakeholders. I would be educated in operation and organization management to optimize processes.

As a scientist with analytical and problem-solving skills, I could apply project management and leadership skills within drug discovery projects, fostering a positive work culture, promoting collaborations with other departments and units, enhancing productivity, and driving innovation. The MBA would also enable me to encourage R&D initiatives and identify further opportunities in the field of innovative research.

What is your advice to future MBA participants, based on your own journey with the Swiss-Asian MBA?
Be energized, committed, and open-minded, have the willingness to learn and step out of your comfort zone, and most importantly, enjoy the educational journey. It is essential to be clear about the vision you want to pursue by starting this education. Select a specialization that aligns with your main interests and career goals. Research different programmes and choose the one that resonates with your passion and strengths. This education allows you to gain deep expertise and differentiate yourself in the job market.

Take networking opportunities seriously. Try to participate in all provided offline and online events, such as residential weeks, communities, and alumni gatherings, to connect with partners and hear their stories, as they might support you in the future.

I would also recommend embracing the concept of "continuous learning." Education, in general, is valuable, and pursuing an MBA is part of your journey, which might change or foster your career. The business landscape is constantly evolving, and it is essential to stay updated with the newest trends, technologies (e.g., Artificial Intelligence), and industrial developments. Take risks, embrace a mindset of continuous learning, and seek out opportunities. This increases your value, competitiveness, and adaptability to the rapidly changing demands of the business world. It is never too late to start growing and expand your knowledge. If you feel the energy and commitment to complete a degree or certificate, go for it. In my perspective, it is always better to at least try to be able to reflect and avoid regrets. If you realize that it does not match your expectations or is too challenging due to specific reasons, you can still adjust your path. A work colleague recently said: "You are the architect of your life - build it wisely!”

Thank you, Patrick, for sharing your thoughts with the Swiss-Asian MBA community.

Swiss-Asian MBA FHNW

Do you want to transform yourself into a global leader? Find out more about the Swiss-Asian MBA programme here.

Swiss-Asian MBA