Two words that spring to mind when thinking about any MBA program are hectic and rewarding. At least that’s the sense I get while speaking with Huijue Ye and Hanh Nguyen.
The two recent MBA graduates from Copenhagen Business School’s class of 2018 have just embarked on their post-MBA journeys, ready to reap the rewards of a year well spent in the heart of Denmark.
No better time then, for them to reflect on their experience and reveal to the incoming MBA class of 2019 what to expect from the year ahead.
Huijue—who entered The Copenhagen MBA after studying a BA and MA in journalism in China, and working for almost five years as a financial journalist—has just moved to Denmark with her husband.
She says Copenhagen shone through as the best place to adjust her career path, and Copenhagen Business School was the obvious choice for her MBA. “I heard that it was the top in the Nordic market,” she recalls.
Once she began the MBA, Huijue admits it was very intensive, and that incoming students should be ready to knuckle down.
“You need to be very clear about what you are going to achieve,” she says. “You always need to have a very clear plan of what you are going to do today, what you are going to do in two weeks, and what you are going to do for the whole year—I think that’s crucial.”
She also says that there is a very close link between the MBA and job hunting throughout the year—Huijue started her search in early March, participated in myriad company visits, and networked at every event she attended.
“You need to reach out to people and have coffee meetings, talk about different roles, and the job market,” she asserts. “I think it’s understandable, because it’s quite a small society and [a lot] comes from recommendations.”
Indeed, Huijue applied for and landed her current role with Danske Bank after conversations with company representatives at a career event during on the MBA.
MBAs who remain in Denmark after graduating from Copenhagen Business School—roughly 50% choose to do so—can expect a better work and life balance than if they sought pastures new in China or the US, for example.
“It’s much more work life balance, so to speak,” Huijue explains, having now lived in all three countries. “People appreciate their own quality of life [more].”
Hanh (pictured below, right) mimics Huijue’s sentiments, adding that she thinks Copenhagen offers a much more stable policy for international students after graduating.
Around the time she was searching for an MBA program the US was in the aftermath of the presidential election. Hanh admits that she wanted to avoid a potentially unstable situation after the election. “I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to recoup my investment into my education afterwards,” she says.
The Copenhagen MBA’s incoming class of 2019 can also expect a holistic education in responsible management, sustainability, and how to guide diverse teams into a future where clean energy sources and ethical leadership will be the pendulum on which the business world swings.
“Especially for someone like me,” Hanh says, “who was coming from an emerging market, where sustainability was usually compromised for fast growth, it really was a no brainer for me to seek an education regarding sustainability.”
The Responsible Management module is a 50-hour course that runs throughout the Copenhagen MBA. It runs alongside the Integrated Strategy Project and the Leadership Discovery Process. During the Leadership Discovery Process, students are taken on a top-secret trip into the Swedish wilderness—a stand-out experience, Hanh says.
“It was very challenging, both physically, mentally, and emotionally,” she adds. “It really led us to simulate all of the leadership modules we’d studied during the year.
“We got to see the different cultural and personal leadership preferences of our classmates, and to learn how to lead and manage a team with different dynamics. But, I also think our bonding beyond the classroom was developed further as we had to look out for each other!”
Hanh’s personal and professional leadership development on the MBA led to her landing a role with a top consulting firm in Denmark—she started this month.
She’s excited for the post-MBA journey, she says, in a country that is not only at the forefront of sustainability, but also at the cutting edge of the tech and digital world. Before the MBA she held roles with two US technology giants, and the sector is a passion of hers.
Scandinavia, then, seems tailor-made for her career development. But, she has some closing words of advice for the next cohort of MBAs at Copenhagen Business School, to ensure they maximize their potential.
“The heavy workload is coming for them,” she quips. “It’s really a marathon, so you have to stay focused, work hard to manage your energy, and when you’re tired and stressed remember why you’re here at Copenhagen Business School!”