Executive M.B.L.-HSG alumna Jana Kristofova talks about her experiences

Feb 27 2017

Jana graduated from the Executive M.B.L.-HSG in 2016. She holds an MBA degree from the Grenoble Graduate School of Business and works as Fund Accounting Specialist at Schroders Investment Management in Luxembourg.

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?

Coming from the Finance world, I felt that only “numbers” were not enough for me. I needed to open my mind, to change my way of thinking and not to be too numerically oriented. A few years ago, while doing the MBA in Finance in Grenoble, I did an internship in M&A in a small investment boutique in Bangkok, Thailand. My manager had a background in Law and Finance. It seemed to be a very interesting combination, but I did not act.

Time passed and around a year before I decided to apply for the E.M.B.L.–HSG program, I was watching Suits – a well-known TV series about corporate lawyers from NYC. The idea of doing further studies in Business Law popped up in my mind again. However, this time I became more active and started searching for some Business Law programs in Continental Europe. The E.M.B.L.–HSG program, because of its flying classroom concept, grabbed my attention right away. The structure of the program and modules were very interesting. A possibility to study together with lawyers and non-lawyers in one classroom sounded like a challenge. Furthermore, while checking the university website, I saw what Prof. Dr. iur. rer. pol. h.c. Carl Baudenbacher (further as “Prof. Carl Baudenbacher”) said: “… Globalization of the economy requires skills in European and international business law”. I realized that it was time for me obtain knowledge in European and international business law.

What did you get out of it – professionally and personally?

It has been one of the best investments I have ever made for myself. I learned about law, the functioning of the legal system in Europe and deepened my knowledge in the finance/business field (for example during the Finance Module that took place at the Swiss Stock Exchange in Zurich and the Mergers & Acquisitions Module in Frankfurt). Furthermore, I met great people with interesting and valuable experience and built amazing friendships. The program added a lot of value to my life – professionally and personally.

You coming from a business background – what was the additional benefit for you?

Firstly, I obtained solid knowledge in the area of European and international business law and learned about the Treaties and their most important articles (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Treaty of the European Union). Secondly, my way of thinking has changed.

While studying, I met great people from different areas -professionals – either from the business or legal world and built friendships with my classmates. The program definitely gave me a lot.

Was it difficult to familiarize yourself with the legal topics?

I have to admit, it was quite a challenge at the beginning! But everything ended up well. The thesis itself was a challenge. I decided to write a final thesis from a legal field perspective. Therefore, I had to read a lot of literature before I started writing the thesis.

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

First of all, I benefited from the interactions with my classmates. Many assignments were organized as group works. It was interesting to observe how people from other fields tackle an issue, analyze it and propose a solution. Even just by observing I learned new things. We were learning from each other.

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

Combining work and studies (and travels) was a challenge, too. Except for my annual holiday allowance, I got 10 additional study days per year from the Government here in Luxembourg. During the period when I started working on my thesis it was quite a busy time at work. Sometimes it was difficult to come home and after a long day to do some research or to read some articles for my thesis. Therefore, I was taking days off – either in the afternoons or whole days, went to a library and spent a few hours there. My weekends were all about the thesis, too.

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

I would recommend the program to my colleagues and friends (I actually really do). It broadens knowledge, changes a way of thinking of e.g. “pure finance people”, opens minds and brings an added value. All those benefits come together with a great 18-month journey around the world, great classmates from different backgrounds, many professional lecturers and professors and the amazing E.M.B.L–HSG team.

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

Extra-curricular activities related to each module were unique and very particular. During our first module Prof. Baudenbacher prepared fish from the Lake of Konstanz for us. It was a very nice evening on the first day of the first module. Later that week we had a sightseeing tour around St. Gallen and we visited The Abbey Library of Saint Gall (or so called Stiftsbibliothek – the oldest library in Switzerland). In Zurich, we had classes at the SIX Swiss Stock Exchange, which was an event in itself and we all attended the conference because of 20th anniversary of the program. Many interesting speakers and well known public figures were sharing their opinions with us. While in Frankfurt, we had a nice guided tour of the old masters at the famous Staedel Museum. During the Competition Law Module, we had a chance to visit the European Commission, and during The Procedure Law Module in Luxembourg we spent some time at the European Court of Justice and the EFTA Court. Prof. Dr. iur. Peter Altenburger invited us for a dinner to a very nice restaurant during the NYC Module. Shanghai was a great experience for me. We attended a visit to the First Intermediate People’s Court of Shanghai Municipality. Oh… I almost forgot about Austin. While being in Texas during the Energy & IT Module, we visited the Dell headquarter, experienced a tornado warning and had very nice dinner in a Steak House in Austin downtown.

It was our unwritten rule that at the end of each week we had a dinner together in some traditional restaurant in that country where we could talk more in a more relaxed atmosphere and enjoy some local traditional meal.

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

During our 18-months study journey it was a great experience to meet many great people from the Business, Law or Business Law area who shared their knowledge with us, for example Prof. Carl Baudenbacher, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Haltern, Dr. Philipp Speitler, Dr. Stefan Sulzer, Peter Naegele and Christopher J. Wright, Prof. Dr. Alberto Alemanno and Prof. Dr. Daniel Sarmiento, Ra Mag. iur. Christian Mayer, Dr. Andreas von Bonin, Prof. H. David Rosenbloom and Prof. Dr. Alexander Rust, Dr. Peter Altenburger and Prof DDr. Georg W. Kofler, Prof. Dr. Allen Z. Y. Chan and Elliot Papageorgiou and Prof. John Dzienkowski. Furthermore, during 20th year anniversary of E.M.B.L.–HSG program we attended a conference where well-know people like e. g. the former VP of the European Commission Joaquín Almunia, former Finance Minister in Luxembourg Luc Frieden and the EFTA Court President and the Director of the E.M.B.L.-HSG program Prof. Carl Baudenbacher.

One example of how I benefitted from the networking opportunities just came to mind. My tutor, Prof. Dr. Alberto Alemanno, during the period when I was working on my thesis, recommended a public conference in the European Parliament which was related to the topic of my thesis. I attended the conference and found it very useful.

Which was your favorite module and why?

I think I have two types of favorite modules – the first one (knowledge-wise) – the Procedure Law Module (Luxembourg). For me, as a non-lawyer, legal modules had more added value than e. g. the Finance Module in Zurich. The Energy Module in Austin was also very interesting. At the beginning of the program I thought Energy Law would not interest me. However, the module was very interesting. I learned about different types of petroleum contracts. Since then I have been reading news from energy sectors.

From the location and atmosphere perspective, my favorite module was Law & Business in China. Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city that has been developing rapidly. The module was scheduled at the end of August. We were more relaxed because all our theses had been submitted. Therefore, we really enjoyed that module week and great city.