An E.M.B.L.-HSG Alumna's Experience - Bettina McDermott

Sep 18 2014

Mag. Bettina McDermott is Head of International Sales at MAM Babyartikel GmbH and alumna of the year 2012/2013.

Why did you choose to do the Executive M.B.L.-HSG program?
What was your motivation in applying for the program coming from a non-legal background?


I work with FMCG goods which are distributed and sold in over 60 countries worldwide. This automatically confronts me with various legal systems and I wanted to have enough legal background to be able to ask specialized lawyers the right questions when dealing with any kind of legal implications. Business and law goes hand in hand nowadays!

What did you get out of it – professionally and personally?
You coming from a business background – what was the additional benefit for you?


It was extremely interesting for me to see how legal professionals approach certain topics in contrast to business people. It helped understand how they think and how they draw their conclusions. Now I know which kind of information they need to give me the answers I need from them in daily business.

Was it difficult to familiarize yourself with the legal topics?

Not at all. In my daily work I had to deal with legal topics before. After the EMBL I feel more confident with these topics and less “afraid”.

How did you benefit from the different professional, educational (lawyers, business people, public administrators, engineers) and national backgrounds in the course?

To be honest, I am really used to working with people from different nationalities and backgrounds, so this was nothing really new for me. I chose this program because of the variety of people and places. This was a prerequisite for me. If this is already part of my daily work why would I enroll in a program which would not offer this variety?

You worked 100% during the program. What were the challenges of combing job and studies?

One of the main challenges for me was the additional travelling. I already travel a lot for my job and had to fit in a few more weeks of travelling with the program. This left me less time to rest in between trips. I had to be really disciplined to combine it all….

You have family at home – what were the challenges of combining job, studies and family?

I did not make the decision to enroll in the program by myself. I sat down with my family, showed them the timelines and the estimated work load and asked them to help me fit it into our life. Without this 100% support from my family I could not have done the program. They helped me push through when things got really tough.

Would you recommend the program to colleagues/friends? If yes, why?

Yes, I definitely would recommend the program because I think it is an ideal combination of theoretic studies and experiencing cultural differences first hand. Teaching in China is very different from teaching in the U.S. or in Europe. I think anyone who works internationally should have to chance to expose him or herself to such experiences!

What did you particularly like outside the classroom (e.g. field trips, free time with students, receptions, dinners, cultural events, city tours, course locations)?

I liked experiencing other countries together with other people who had nothing to do with my work. This gave me a different perspective. Some strong friendships developed during the time we had together and I perceive this as one of the most important things.
I enjoyed all the field trips like the visit to Dell HQ in Austin or the visit to the court in Shanghai.

How did you benefit from the networking opportunities given (co-students and faculty)?

This is definitely one of the main assets of this program. I already took advantage of asking some of my co-students for help in certain work-related areas. I have to say that it seems a bit more difficult to network with the faculty as some of them do not seem to be so open to it.

Which was your favorite module and why?

Content wise, my favorite module was Brussels. This area of law is the one that has the most touch points with my work. I also enjoyed the international speakers we had. In most other modules the speaker were predominantly Swiss, German or Austrian. Brussels offered a wider variety of speakers and that enhanced the quality of teaching and content tremendously!
Austin was the other module I really liked. Energy Law was completely new to me and I really enjoyed the quality of teaching and the social skills most of the faculty showed!