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How I Used My MBA To Become A Digital Entrepreneur During Covid

How an MBA at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management led Can Adigüzel to launch his business in Berlin


Thu Oct 27 2022

After making the career switch from engineering to digital transformation, Can Adigüzel found his way from his native Turkey to Russia and finally to Germany to gain a competitive skillset at an entrepreneurially minded business school. 

Now with four languages in his repertoire, he runs 360 Digital Transformation. His company fills a gap in the digital market by helping German Mittelstand – a group of stable businesses that successfully endured economic change and turbulence – to strengthen their positions in the market. 

BusinessBecause sat down with Can to learn how he used his HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management MBA to propel his digitalization career and start his own business. 

Discovering Digital Entrepreneurship and HHL Leipzig

Can grew up in the European side of Turkey and completed his bachelor's degree in Istanbul. From there, he moved to Moscow to a technical director position at the Russian engineering company, ENKA. There, he took on his first digital transformation project, which he loved. This set in motion his decision to shift his career from engineering to digital transformation. 

Can decided HHL Leipzig was the best choice after examining his three main criteria. First, he was looking for a reason to move from Russia "Russia for four years is enough,” he says­ and was very interested in Germany's economic prosperity and the possibility of learning a new language. Secondly, he felt an MBA would help him switch careers from engineering to digitization.

"It made sense for me to use an MBA to move to Germany, to learn a new language, but also to shift my career from pure engineering to digital transformation and consultancy," Can says. 

He was excited by the range of courses offered by HHL and the transferable skills he could gain during his studies. 

"As a pure engineer, I didn't have any solid knowledge about financing, no experience in entrepreneurship, and also no experience in marketing."

HHL has a strong entrepreneurial focus. In 2021, it placed sixth worldwide for innovation in the AméricaEconomía MBA ranking. Stifterverband (a German association promoting higher education and research) ranks it the number one entrepreneurial university in Germany and to date, HHL Leipzig alums have founded 430 startups. 

It was this strong reputation as an entrepreneurial school that gave Can his third and final reason to head to HHL.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do exactly, but I knew I was going to be an entrepreneur, and HHL was the right school for that," Can says.   


Gaining experience at HHL for digital entrepreneurship

During his time in the MBA program, Can built up a skillset for his ambitions to become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship and Disruption is an essential management course at HHL Leipzig. This course taught him the basic concepts and fundamentals of entrepreneurship, which was crucial when he established his own company.

"Tools, like business model canvases, helped me along the way to understand more and more about businesses."

Can found the hands-on nature of HHL beneficial to his entrepreneurial development. 

"We had a real client, a real project, and we worked through that project. That gives you a good feeling and understanding of what a hands-on experience is like," Can says. 

HHL's full-time MBA program includes the possibility to complete an internship as part of the Advanced Track customization modules. This is an option for students to gain relevant work experience. Can, who conducted his internship at Hugo Boss, found this beneficial for his entrepreneurial knowledge and understanding of German working culture. 

Can found the extensive HHL alumni network a valuable asset throughout his MBA. Alums were always willing to help, and now as a part of the network, Can offers support to students and candidates. 

"The HHL alumni's reaction is always positive and helpful. So I do the same whenever potential students or teachers reach out to me if any readers want to get information about HHL, please feel free to reach out."


Launching his career as a digital entrepreneur

When Can first visited Berlin in 2014 as a tourist, it was love at first sight. He decided it was there that he would one day launch his career and build his life. 

After HHL, Can moved to Berlin and freelanced on digital transformation projects for Turkish and German companies. 

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, the digitization of work was essential for companies worldwide. Can feels work from home exposed the gap in companies digitalization and information security.

To try and fill this gap, Can and his business partner set up 360 Digital Transformation. While their initial idea was to help German Mittelstand automate their processes, the more they spoke to potential customers, the need for tighter information security became clearer. 

"Our first thought was a consultancy of 80% focused on digital transformation and 20% on information security consultancy, but eventually, as of today, 90% of the business is information security. We have shifted the business model completely."

Can recognized the number of social engineering- and cyber-attacks against the German Mittelstand and decided to provide a penetration testing service. In the last couple of months, his company has seen an increase in the desire for information security and similar E-Learning courses . So, Can has shifted the business model again to develop 360 Digital Transformation Academy with an E-Learning platform.

For those looking to start up their own business, Can's main advice is to gain the necessary skills and knowledge, and once you have those, don't hesitate. 

"You can always be an entrepreneur, if you want. But I thought I was bound to regret not doing it. And so I did. And my only advice to future entrepreneurs is to do it."

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Student Reviews

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management




Part time MSc Management

I decided on attending this program since it is 100% in English, the option for a Semester abroad, and it has a nicely designed curriculum. I enjoyed very much the studies at the Leipzig location (I do not live in Leipzig and was staying in Airbnb flats with other students during the course weekends). There was great enthusiasm within the students' group, the courses were challenging and we had experienced/diverse professors which added to the overall experience. HHL is focused on teamwork and is big on its network and career development which is a definite value add for students. I can recommend HHL to other students who want to sharpen their skill set to be prepared for leadership positions.




Impressive Journey

I’m doing my Master Part-time at HHL and love the Journey. The teaching is between good and outstanding. The service around the lectures is amazing. Never had to wait longer than a day for a response. The Network I was able to build and the lecture about entrepreneurship are the major takeaways which strongly influenced my future. I can strongly recommend the Master in Part-time at the HHL for a course with impact. But be prepared they will broaden your horizon and you will have to grow with it.





Horrible Experience

I am also a recent student at HHL. I would agree with your post wholeheartedly. HHL is brilliant at marketing, however, it's more like a Ponzi scheme. A lot of Indians happen to fall into this trap, including me. I joined HHL while letting ESMT go primarily because I thought Leipzig is a cheaper city to live in and the course is cheaper. Always remember if a deal looks too good it is probably a scam. The studies are extremely below average, the college has an abysmal career centre and the campus is a joke. Now let me give you some deeper insights : 1. Given that the college is located in EAST Germany- you need to understand that RACISM is a truth. The college runs MBA and MSc. (Management). MBA is a mere point of luring students as unaware students come to HHL with dreams and hopes of doing an MBA and getting placed. To break it to you softly: MSc is the FLAGSHIP program for HHL- this means 99% of the class is German, and they got offers from the likes of Mckinsey, Bain and Deutsche come to the Germans. Even the foreigners doing MSc. do not get a whiff of the opportunity- please understand- Germany is a "German" speaking country and not internationalised enough to include "English" as the business language. Nonetheless, HHL is such a weak school that it cannot do **** about anything- their placement cell always keeps on crying but they are of absolutely ZERO help. You will not get any scholarships like the Germans do here thanks to the Dean who promotes this divide between Germans and others by giving scholarships thatd more or less cover the entire tuition fees of the German students. 2. The Academic Director for MBA is definitely someone people look at and think that good there's an Indian there- he has absolutely zero value in HHL and in the research world anyways. He is only out there to lure you in to get a fatter commission-the more Indians he gets in the higher his commission and his job is SAFE. 3. The faculty is so horribly poor in their own research work and competence that you'd feel why did I come here. The only reason why some people come here: VISA and citizenship in a few years. You may also procure a job but with the HHL tag being so weak the salaries are way below AVERAGE. Free advice: So either way if you're planning to come to Germany either perfect your German or choose a different country because colleges like HHL get students from all over the world- after which they do not really give a damn whether you get placed or not- it's ALL BUSINESS TO HHL. I cannot speak about many other colleges, but, due to the sheer presence of colleges like Frankfurt business school, WHU and ESMT in bigger cities such as Frankfurt, Berlin and Dusseldorf provide better chances to network during the duration of the course. Do NOT come to HHL and waste your money. Your entire education and stay would cost 50 lacs, instead invest in BITCOIN or STOCKS. OR just do your Masters in Management from a public University in Germany which is way cheaper, has higher chances of scholarship and better placement opportunities. Hope this helps Thanks.