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Mareike Kirwald


EBM 2016-17


“You learn what it takes to be a good business leader"  

Shortly after completing her MSc in Engineering Business Management at WMG in 2017, Mareike Kirwald gained a place on BMW Group’s Global Leader Development Programme. Since then, she has progressed to become Project Lead at BMW in Oxford. We asked Mareike about her experiences working at BMW so far.

“It’s been very challenging and expectations are high,” she said. “I spent my first six months here in Oxford, and I was then based at different BMW locations around the world. I use what I learned at WMG on a daily basis, particularly regarding lean management techniques and Six Sigma. But what I think is helping more than anything – and definitely shone through during the recruitment process – are the soft skills I developed during my time at WMG.”

We asked Mareike to expand on this: “During my MSc course there was a good deal of group work, which meant collaborating in teams with other students who all came from different cultures and brought different outlooks and experiences. It wasn’t always easy and I soon learned how important it is to listen to their viewpoints and be prepared to make compromises.

On EBM, you learn what it takes to be a good business leader – to understand what people need and how to motivate and empower them to be part of the team and give their best. This came through particularly strongly when I attended the BMW assessment centre. The fact that I have already begun to build a global network was another big positive.”

So, was all of this what Mareike expected when she first arrived at WMG in 2016? “Not at all,” she said. “I had always wanted to take a Master’s course, so after gaining my BSc in Industrial Engineering in Germany and taking a year out, I researched a number of MSc programmes. WMG’s stood out because of the way it links engineering and business, combining subjects like finance, economics, HR management and project planning.”

Once on the course itself, Mareike found the experience very different from studying for her first degree. “I really liked the way that I was encouraged to choose topics to study and follow my own interests. It’s more like a process of exploration and discovery than simply learning things. There is also a big emphasis on critical thinking – constantly questioning arguments and seeking objective evidence to support decision making.

“I have found that this is another ability that’s highly valued in the workplace, along with soft skills like presentation and team work. These are all things that I developed during my time at WMG. In fact, the whole experience helped me become more open to people, more proactive and more courageous when it comes to approaching others. It was genuinely life changing and it has made a big contribution to getting me where I am now.”