MBA Program in Austrian Capital Looks East

MBA Program in Austrian Capital Looks East

Recipients of the scholarship can see reductions of up to 50 percent on their tuition fees.

Published: June 8, 2011 (Issue # 1659)


The program involves a field trip to St. Petersburg for MBA students at the WU Executive Academy in Vienna.

Located in the very center of Europe, the city of Vienna is attracting more and more Russian students of business education programs every year.

As an additional incentive to prospective business students, the WU Executive Academy at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) is offering scholarships to citizens of Central and Eastern Europe for its Professional MBA program.

The scholarships, which are being offered for the fourth year running, are merit-based and are exclusively available for citizens of CEE countries who already have a bachelor’s university degree and at least three years of management experience. Recipients of the scholarship can see reductions of up to 50 percent on their tuition fees, which average a total of 28,000 to 30,000 euros. In the three years that the program has existed, between five and 10 Russians have already been awarded such scholarships, said Paul Kospach, head of public relations at the WU Executive Academy.

Among the programs offered by the WU Executive Academy, which has a total of 700 students each year, some have attracted particularly strong interest from Russian students.

Professor Bodo Schlegelmilch, dean of the WU Executive Academy, said that one program that is proving popular with Russians is the energy management program, a relatively new program on the Professional MBA course that costs 45,000 euros.

“We have OPEC here, as well as the second largest office of the UN and the Atomic Energy Agency: Vienna has a lot of expertise in energy, and a number of Russians are showing interest in this program,” said Schlegelmilch.

Energy is not the only area of expertise to attract Russian students, however.

Dmitry Osokin, brand manager for Tassimo AT, part of Kraft Foods, graduated in 2009 from the first Professional MBA class in marketing and sales.

Osokin, who moved to Poland from his native St. Petersburg as a teenager and is currently based in Vienna, said he had always wanted to do an MBA, and that he paid for the course himself. “It’s not an expense, but an investment,” he said.

“My company supported me fully; they gave me time off and understood what I was doing it for,” he said. “An MBA is not essential at my company, because it has strong internal training programs. But they see it as an example of motivation and a way of obtaining an external view on how to solve problems.”

Osokin said he had wanted to do an MBA program that would allow him to keep working.

“After considering other European programs, I came to the conclusion that the sales and marketing program was most suitable for me,” he said. “Most MBAs are executive. The [Professional MBA] Program was oriented on marketing and sales, which was also what I wanted to do. Marketing and sales was a point of professional interest that I wanted to expand for myself, so I chose that area. I had an economic education with some knowledge of sales and marketing that I wanted to deepen.”

Osokin, who was 26 when he completed the program, said he was the youngest student on the course. “I got new perspectives, both on my firm and on my job,” he said. He also cited the contacts made as a benefit of the program. “It’s a club in the good sense of the word; people on the course have similar ideas and motivation in life, so it’s really interesting to interact with them,” he said.

The WU Executive Academy’s Executive MBA program, which includes a trip to St. Petersburg, also attracts several Russian students every year. This year’s Executive MBA students include Yekaterina Nikitina, a Muscovite currently working as a project director at an aluminium plant in Montenegro. Nikitina said she had wanted to do an MBA for a long time, and had chosen Vienna due to its central position and the fact that it combines an American education with a European approach (the WU Executive Academy has a partnership with the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota).

“It’s a good chance to interact with representatives of different spheres of business in Europe,” she said. “The program is very full, short but intensive, but you can combine it with work.” The Executive MBA course comprises 40 days in Vienna during a period of 14 months. All the periods in Vienna include weekends (normally from Thursday to Sunday) to allow participants to take minimum time off from their job.

Nikitina said she had gained greater knowledge of making business decisions and career decisions. “I am already using what I have learnt,” she added.

Her husband and fellow student, Maxim, who is the director of legal affairs at the same factory in Montenegro, said he had looked at several European and American schools. “I took several factors into account, and Vienna offered a combination of price and rating,” he said. “The rating is the most important factor, but Vienna is also convenient to get to from both Moscow and Montenegro.”

“Top managers definitely need an MBA,” he said. “As a lawyer, it’s essential to understand all the company’s operations. An MBA provides knowledge and understanding. There are people from all over the world here, all sharing their experience,” he said.

The Executive MBA program has included a component with the St. Petersburg Graduate School of Management for four years, in which students attend lectures at the university and visit companies such as Nokian Tyres, Baltika Breweries and Khlebny Dom. The program also features trips to China, India and the U.S.

Nikitina said that the program in St. Petersburg has been the one aspect of the program that left her disappointed. “It would be better to go to Moscow,” she said. “The St. Petersburg Graduate School of Management is worse than the Moscow School of Management. I learnt little from that part of the program,” she said. She also complained that the students had only been given the opportunity to talk to mid-level managers instead of the top managers with whom they wanted to speak.

The WU Executive Academy has no plans to expand exchange programs to other cities in Russia, however. “We are focusing on St. Petersburg; we’re very happy with that,” said Schlegelmilch. “We’re going where the demand is. The philosophy we are pursuing is to bring Russian students to Vienna, because we want to provide an international learning environment.”

That learning environment will, together with the rest of the WU, move in fall 2013 to a 100,000-square-meter new campus that is being built from scratch in a former imperial hunting ground at a total cost of 492 million euros.

The application deadline for CEE-Partial Scholarships is June 30, 2011. Applications can be requested at

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