Cecile Terraz graduated from KLU in 2020 with her MBA in Leadership & Supply Chain Management.
You chose the MBA in Leadership & Supply Chain Management at KLU. Why?
I already knew KLU and its lecturers from a supply chain executive seminar offered jointly by HELP and KLU. After working in supply chain management in the private and humanitarian sectors for seventeen years, I wanted to educate myself further and re-engage with a wider range of content, mentally preparing myself for the next step in my career. The mix of supply chain and leadership topics appealed to me - since both are essential aspects of my work. The central location of Hamburg in Europe was easy to reach for me and the concept of classes four days a month including weekends was perfect for me in terms of continuing to work full-time and to reduce my travels. A further advantage was the fact that the university was well very well ranked internationally.
What were your favourite classes in the MBA and why?
The diversity of topics from technical to ethical I found very inspiring. Most classes were very engaging due to the diversity of the student´s experience and the small size of the group. The class was highly interactive with a great atmosphere of respect, trust and open debates. We sometimes got challenged on our own beliefs or views at our workplace. I remember vivid discussions in the class leading to deeper thinking on the topic and excellent challenging of personal view points. I specifically enjoyed the supply chain classes with Rod Franklin filled with his life-long experience, stories and ability to push students to think beyond the surface on critical topics, even if it was uncomfortable.
Full-time job and MBA weekends- how did you manage to achieve a work-life balance?
Good question! I even changed jobs during my MBA. I had to travel to Hamburg while starting my thesis and travel for work at the same time. It was very challenging but I was committed to complete it with excellence. There were lots of 5.00 am mornings to make everything fit in one day. My partner played a fundamental role in looking after our children while I was away. It was a family commitment that I could not have achieved without his support. If you decide for an MBA program, you need to be counscious of the time commitment and have the backup of your family, especially if you have children. You also need to be resilient and focused until the end. The 4-days blocks were ideal for me in order to minimise the impact on work and to reduce travels. I also allowed me to be fully dedicated to the MBA during these 4 days in a row and be entirely focused on the class and the topics during that time.
How does the MBA help you in your daily work?
The topics, case studies and discussions we had during class are still present in my mind and help me to think differently. In addition to that many of my classmates became close friends during those 2 years and so we are still in constant exchange about challenges at work and we help each other to see things from a different angle. I am still using some of the leadership topics with my own team as this is the foundation for success at work: leadership and attitude. The variety of the studied topics and the perspectives discussed had a long term impact on my world vision and my self-development.
The backgrounds of the students in class were very diverse. Did you see an advantage in that?
The MBA students came from very different cultural backgrounds. One of the students even flew in from Mozambique every month to attend the classes! And our professional backgrounds were also anything but homogeneous. I was excited by this diversity, because it allowed for exciting discussions to emerge, revealing very different, sometimes almost contrary, world views. Although I have been working in a multicultural environment for 15 years - among other things, I have lived and worked in Cambodia - the discussions we had from our so different experiences showed me very clearly how biased I was nevertheless. And the other participants were no different. It's a simple fact: our views are primarily shaped by where we come from. Experiencing this so directly, being able to exchange ideas with such different people, broadened my horizons. That is another reason why the friendships I've made at KLU are extremely important to me.