Hailing from Stuttgart, Sebastian Oergel can boast over a decade of business experience in fashion, from storied Italian houses such as Ermenegildo Zegna to retail titans like Adidas and Nike.
In that decade, Sebastian worked in five countries, including Germany, Britain, Hong Kong, Panama, and The Netherlands. As a result, he slotted perfectly into the diverse cohort on ESADE's Executive MBA program, which requires its students to complete three separate trips abroad to top business schools, as well as offering a four-month exchange program.
Halfway into the 16-month program, Sebastian has already begun to reap its benefits, gaining multiple fashion contacts, and is applying his learning continuously to his new role as manager in international sales at Germany's venerated Tom Tailor Group, where he is responsible for their expansion drive into Africa and the Middle East.
Why did you decide to pursue a EMBA at ESADE?
Though my supervisor initiated the process, I decided which school I would study at, taking into account several factors important to me, such as ranking, diversity, course length, methodology, class size and location.
I chose ESADE because it is, in my eyes, the best business school in Europe, and met all of my personal requirements.
I was also able to pursue electives such as negotiations, B2B sales management and strategic digital marketing, which are all directly applicable to my new role as manager in international sales at the Tom Tailor Group.
How have you gained from your MBA experience so far?
The monthly format works perfectly in tandem with my responsibilities at the Tom Tailor Group. And I can't underestimate the added value gained from the international exposure and relevant industry insights.
I've had the opportunity to visit India for an intensive study week at the Indian School of Business, conducted alongside company visits in Mumbai. There are also trips to Brazil, China, and the US.
I've gained many fresh perspectives from my classmates, I've met an impressive array of people from the fashion industry and other fields, and I am convinced that some of these contacts will open doors for new business and career opportunities.
What has been the highlight of your fashion career so far?
My experience at Adidas Group was certainly a highlight. I had the chance to test products that my footballing heroes would use, and got to spend my afternoons on the football pitch.
I was proud to work for such a revered company, and enjoyed exciting work with international exposure, close friends and myriad sporting opportunities.
Part of the reason why I’ve enjoyed working for the Tom Tailor Group so much is that I can already see the value I’ve created for the company.
When I joined, we only had 2 Franchise Stores and 9 Multilabel areas, but now these figures are much higher. It’s so rewarding to see customers queuing up to pay for your products.
How has international exposure benefited your career?
In total I have worked about two years abroad, and those experiences certainly made me more culturally-aware and open-minded.
In my current role I am working predominantly with partners from Muslim countries as we seek to expand into new international markets. Even though I had never worked or lived in that part of the world before, being open and culturally aware was enough, and enabled me to become a part of the team much easier.
Do you think your experience at well-known brands made you more attractive to ESADE as an applicant?
Actually, I believe my background in wholesale fashion was what got me accepted, as I was the only candidate from the industry in my intake.
Furthermore, on Executive MBA programs like at ESADE, applicants who have been sponsored by their employers are considered more attractive, as it says to the university that these applicants enjoy the full support of their employer.
What are the key things EMBA applicants take into account when deciding on a program?
EMBA applicants should always consider the seniority of a program’s class profile, and how well the program will fit around their current working role. Finally, you need to choose programs and electives based on what you want to do. Some programs are better suited to entrepreneurs than people looking to move into executive positions.
What are your plans for the future?
My girlfriend and I would like to live abroad for a few years. I believe living and working abroad is not only important for your professional career, but also for your personal development.
I would also love to undergo a big personal challenge. One of the ideas I’ve had with a friend has been to cycle from Germany to China. I want to have experiences I can look back on with pride, both in my professional and personal life.