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Alumni story : Mareike Kirwald

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 progressed on to become Project Lead at BMW in Oxford, and more recently in Value Stream Management and Supply Chain at BMW in Germany. We talked to Mareike about her experiences at BMW and how the EBM course has helped her launch a successful career in the automotive sector.

“Expectations are high,” she said. “I spent my first six months 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 WMG's Engineering Business Management course, you learn what it takes to be a good business leader – to understand what people need, how to motivate and empower them to be part of the team, and how to ensure they give their best. This course has helped shape my career at BMW"

"This came through particularly strongly when I attended the BMW assessment centre. The fact that I have already begun to build a global network with fellow course mates from countries around the world, and exposure to different ways of working, was another huge factor in my success.”

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.

"What's more, I loved the applied nature of the course. My dissertation project was working on real business challenges for Rolls Royce, in collaboration with the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, and looked at the creation of framework on how human factors determine automation.

Studying EBM at Warwick was genuinely a life-changing experience and it has made a big contribution to getting where I am today.