MBA Success Stories: Marie Masson

 At just 24, with a wealth of international experience and working with organisations such as UNESCO, Marie Masson decided to study for an MBA at ESMT Berlin

My journey to the MBA has not been as long as the rest of my classmates. At the age of 24, I decided to apply for an MBA with ESMT Berlin as my top choice.

Prior to starting my MBA, I studied political science and international development at a McGill University in Montreal, Canada. During my studies, I became interested in the relationship between the public and the private sector to create positive impact; therefore, I requested special permission to join classes from the McGill Desautels Faculty of Management. Being the only social science student in a class full of business students was incredibly exciting and challenging. I asked myself: ‘How can I convince them that politics, social responsibility and the environment matter?’ I began to understand the importance of developing a business mindset if I wanted to influence the corporate world to work hand-in-hand with the public sector towards social good. One of the highlights of my time at the university was my social entrepreneurship class taught by Anita Nowak, a professor who encouraged me to become a ‘tri-sector athlete’: a person who has experience in non-governmental organisations, government and the corporate world.

With a foot in the social entrepreneurship scene in Montreal, I spearheaded the first North American inter-university conference on social entrepreneurship SOCENT Network with over 400 participants in just 6 weeks. Then, I was invited to speak on the closing panel with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus on the future of social business at the Global Social Business Summit event in Mexico. Following the event, I was hired by Yunus’ creative advisor to work for The Grameen Creative Lab as his Executive Assistant in Germany. I spent eight months at Grameen coordinating high-level projects with top business leaders on innovation and social business.

Following my experience at Grameen, I wanted to develop some knowledge about EU regulations. I was hired as Associate Liaison Officer at UNESCO in Brussels, where I developed an outreach strategy for UNESCO vis à vis the EU institutions and identified areas of cooperation for new UNESCO-EU projects. Working at the intersection between two large organisations and being exposed to the world of public affairs reignited my interest in acquiring an experience in the private sector.  

At 24 and with only three years of professional experience, I knew I was young to apply for an MBA. On the other hand, I understood I would learn much more from students with over five years’ experience, and I believed that my unusual profile would offer a different perspective to an MBA class.

Of all the Schools I considered for my MBA, I had a positive feeling about ESMT Berlin. Founded by 25 top German companies and institutions just a few years ago, ESMT Berlin appeared as a young and dynamic School, responding to a strong demand for MBAs in Germany. When I first visited, I fell in love with the small size of the School, its location in the heart of Berlin, the warmth of the staff and the incredible communist history of the building.

I think all MBA programmes offer something different and special. More than the branding of the School, it is important that future MBAs feel a connection to the School. The location, the size of the School and the academic programme should be key factors when choosing a School. For me, ESMT’s focus on sustainability and technology was important – and let’s face it, with my background, I would have been struggling in an MBA focusing on finance.

The ESMT Berlin MBA has surpassed my expectations. I could sum up the programme in three points. First, ESMT has strong leaders in the faculty which are always accessible and supportive of projects, and there is no feeling of hierarchy between professors and students. Second, the MBA class has a real sense of team spirit and competitive attitudes are frowned upon. Finally, not only is the class 94% international with 35% women, but students come from all industries and sectors. In this context, I have learned a lot from my peers who have worked in completely different industries for many years. On the other hand, I feel privileged that my age has never hindered my academic experience: I am also able to share my experience with the UN and the EU with other peers who are curious to know more.

Despite the typical challenges involved in pursing an MBA – such as time management and balancing home and work life – I would highly recommend an MBA to advance your career.

More particularly, I wish to encourage people from the public sector to join an MBA programme. Not only does an MBA teach you invaluable soft skills which you can apply to any sector as a manager, it is also incredibly valuable to understand the business mindset if you are working in the public sector.