Connecting the dots between your MBA and your career in real-time

Although doing an MBA while working full-time is a big commitment, it also has many advantages. We spoke to Tim Vollrath as he was holed up in the Swiss Alps (away from the pandemic) to hear about how he is balancing his work and life with a part-time MBA at the University of St.Gallen.

In short

Open-minded classmates and “enormous” diversity

MBA cohorts are typically a vibrant mix of nationalities, work backgrounds, and professional experience. That’s not some happy accident – it tends to be done purposefully by admissions teams to enrich class discussions and introduce global business perspectives into the program. 

With a background in engineering, Tim Vollrath is one such MBA student whose work experience brings an extra dimension to things. He clearly enjoys the diversity of his classmates.

“When I compare the St. Gallen community to my social life – my study friends, my work friends – the diversity is enormous,” Tim explained to us. “So for example in my first days [here], a colleague founded his own startup, sold it, and has a company now that deals with childcare. That’s not my normal interaction [with] friends.” (09:42)

“There is a really big variety of people who come here and are super open-minded. That’s a big advantage. Of course, you always meet such people, you have great friends and everything, but the openness – how you talk, how you exchange ideas – that’s pretty unique in this environment.” (10:12)

Forging professional and personal connections within a “beautiful” ecosystem

A typical MBA class brings together people from various different countries, industries, and cultures, allowing students to understand business problems from several perspectives. This is one of the key advantages of an MBA and it’s something that is difficult to replicate outside of an MBA program. For Tim, being able to connect with professionals in other industries throughout Europe was an invaluable experience.

“[The St. Gallen MBA] opens up a door to Europe – it’s really the larger central European environment we can connect to. Having colleagues from [for example] the southern German area within the finance industry, we can really find out what are the daily issues there.” (10:35)

And whilst gaining a more rounded business perspective brings its own advantages, forging these connections on a purely personal level was just as fulfilling for Tim. It made a connection between his MBA and his career.

“Having such an ecosystem to connect to, I think that it’s quite beautiful. I can’t say it’s worth X thousand dollars – it’s not about the money – I [just] think it’s interesting and fun to do that.” (11:06)

St. Gallen’s unique interaction between studying and working

One of the main motivations that Tim had for studying at the University of St. Gallen MBA was the close connection between the MBA program and his career. He has been able to immediately apply knowledge gained in the classroom to practical work situations – and it’s making him better at his job.

“I haven’t seen at other universities the way I can start connecting what I see at university to my job,” he says. “This interaction [between studying and working] is to me pretty unique, and that’s why I’ve chosen St. Gallen.” (07:47)

He adds, “[The MBA] challenges you in multiple aspects that I’ve seen in my daily [work] life. It’s to get that understanding of why things happen and then I can connect a lot of what I see in the MBA program versus what I see in daily life. Once I understand [the connections], I can act better.” (08:55)

Although case studies, immersion programs, and company visits are all valuable components of an MBA program, sometimes you may not start seeing the true value of your MBA until you start applying your knowledge to real-life business situations. This part-time MBA program has allowed Tim to do that straight away.

The fun factor

Doing an MBA is a big personal, professional, and financial commitment. Yet, one factor that sometimes gets lost in the process is actually one of the most important: enjoying yourself. Despite the challenges of balancing his studies with his job, Tim hasn’t lost sight of that: “Don’t forget about the fun factor when you do such a program – it’s a great and joyful journey so have fun while doing it.” (11:23)


Would you like to ask Tim some more questions about connecting an MBA with a career, you can contact Tim Vollrath on his personal MBA Ambassador page and get in contact.

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