Experiences of an Executive M.B.L.-HSG alumnua - Agata Marty

Originally from Poland, Agata Marty is Attorney-at-law and E.M.B.L.-HSG alumna 2017, living in Zurich, Switzerland.

Why did you choose to do the Executive M.B.L.-HSG program?

There was this moment in my career where I felt the need to expand my work abilities in immersing myself in a challenging international business law program. The Executive M.B.L - HSG program offers the possibility to meet experts across various business fields that even further enables the continuation of my career path. The St Gallen’s E.M.B.L. program combines higher education with travels around the world while working with professionals and colleagues who instil fun in everything we did, bringing creativity to the forefront.

What was your motivation in applying for the program having a law degree already?

While making a decision for my professional development, I wanted to gain knowledge in the area of business law that would enable me to better navigate global business landscapes, manage cultural diversity and to better analyse legal issues with consideration to these global and intercultural differences.

If you want to work with people of diverse origins, you should gain a proper understanding of cultural, political, economic and historical differences. This is the reason why the “flying classroom” concept makes this program stand out when compared to other executive programs.

What did you get out of it - professionally and personally?
You being a lawyer - what was the additional benefit for you?

The “flying classroom” concept, which offers a different experience, is brilliant. Each new destination was like a new adventure which expanded my horizons and brought me memories I will never forget.

The cross-cultural exposure helped me to read different verbal and nonverbal behaviours of the specific cultural environment and, most importantly, explained how to properly respond, even in the most challenging situations. You will possess a specific skillset after completing Harvard’s negotiations supplementary module (where the values, behaviours and attitudes of western cultures are a main focus), and a different skillset after the Tokyo and Shanghai modules (with a strong insight on Asian cultures). But once combined together it will serve you as an excellent cross-cultural communication guide that will make you feel comfortable and confident with people who do not share your own cultural and linguistic background. From my personal perspective, it was a crucial element of these studies.

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

These studies are highly practical in giving an exceptional opportunity to lawyers and non-lawyers to tackle the real-world business problems together. We were provided with a comprehensive review of current legal topics, applied them in practice, offered presentations, and debated the topics through application of the material taught in the courses. Building relationships with classmates and faculty members from around the world and exchanging experiences and knowledge served as a powerful tool to cultivate new ideas and to refine them into viable solutions.Due to our different backgrounds, we could picture the case from many different angles and discover something new, which lawyers usually do not see or the other way around. Many times, we were able to continue our brainstorming after the class was over at lunch, at dinner or simply with a glass of wine in the evening. Regardless of the place or the setting, I could feel the engagement and enthusiasm of the entire group. Each one of us worked hard in order to reach a mutual success.

How did you benefit from the increased faculty diversity? What were the benefits of diversity in academic settings?

Whilst the E.M.B.L.-HSG program gives the possibility to gain an access to the world-renowned experts, scholars and practitioners from various fields worldwide, it can really bring you to the heart of the action. First, you will have an opportunity to pose some challenging questions and to discover the newest techniques from the practitioners of prestigious law firms (such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in Brussels or Gleiss Lutz in Frankfurt am Main). Second, you will take part in a moot court hearing (EFTA court) or navigate the recent developments of the financial market (SIX Swiss Exchange, Zurich). Third, you will attend courses in leading universities such as: Fudan University in Shanghai, Waseda University in Tokyo, New York University School of Law in New York or The University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.  Each time, I was particularly impressed by how faculty members were committed to using their passion to combine classroom lectures with practice. It was also interesting to see the cultural differences in the various learning styles.

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 would like to give special thanks to the team of the E.M.B.L.-HSG program for all their efforts. The time outside the classroom with my classmates was very enjoyable and very well organized, so that it enabled us to focus on the work and deliver quality results without distractions. Despite the tight schedule, it was enough to immerse myself in the local culture, try the local cuisine, and explore personally interesting places. During the day light we could enjoy a walk along the rivers, visit the beautiful gardens and temples (Yu Garden in Shanghai or Chinzanso Garden in Tokyo), museums (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York), try the local cuisine (Sukiyaki or ramen in Tokyo, barbecues in Austin or cheese fondue in Switzerland) or attend an NBA game (in San Antonio). In the evening we tracked down plenty of excellent restaurants, jazz bars, rooftop bars and some trendy nightclubs around the planet (Bar Rouge in Shanghai, Plunge in New York, Spirito in Brussels, Rooftop°42 in Geneva etc.). We had a great time and with countless fun moments together.

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

The program proved to be one of the best professional decisions I made. It allowed me to build new friendships, expand my network, helped me to improve my language skills, and boost my knowledge and self-confidence to the next level. The inspiring and energetic atmosphere encouraged me to pursue new avenues in my professional growth and to take a new course of action.The results were visible especially while having an opportunity to work independently on a research project of my own. My thesis was an inspiration which I gained during the studies and served as a great tool to reflect on my professional future and to discover new long-term goals towards fulfilment of my career aspirations. For all of these reasons, today I feel privileged to be part of the St. Gallen’s community.

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

I have already recommended this program many times and I will definitely do it again in the future. During 18 months you can boost your knowledge in various fields of business law and travel around the world and have fun at the same time. It is the application of practical tools across the many global settings that will give anyone participating in the program the knowledge, inspiration, creativity and confidence to achieve their professional success.

Which was your favourite module and why?

From my perspective, each module was unique and had various things to offer. I very much enjoyed each one of them for their own areas of focus that when combined bring exponential value.