width=174After working full time for over a decade, Melanie Gerlich felt her career would be better enhanced with the professional knowledge acquired during an Executive MBA. She tells Dawn Bournand about the lessons she learnt both inside, and outside, the EMBA classroom. 

After reaching a certain level in one's career, an Executive MBA tends to be a preferred route compared to a part time or full time program, says Melanie Gerlich. For me, an Executive MBA program was preferred because I believed the learning process alongside other experienced professionals would further enhance the education provided by the professors.

Now a graduate of the Duke Goethe Executive MBA program - Melanie completed her EMBA in June 2009 - she is working as a vice president at asset management firm, PineBridge Investments. The Goethe Business School offered an exceptional executive program, Melanie says. The strongest contributors to my experience were the collaborative experiences alongside a wonderful peer group of fellow students, the high calibre professors, especially the innovative GBS Dean Andreas Hackethal, and the exceptional facilities at the brand-new House of Finance.

Career impact

Melanie says Duke's Executive MBA program  started impacting her career positively well before she obtained her degree. Since I was managing a European team while studying at the Goethe Business School, I was able to apply my knowledge real-time. When my management role expanded during the time of my studies, I applied the acquired knowledge immediately, which I believe enabled me to add greater value to my team and my firm.

At PineBridge Investments, Melanie co-leads the firm's global team of investment writers and has direct reports located in London, Frankfurt, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. When I started the Executive MBA program, I was only leading our European team. I believe the lessons - both inside and outside the classroom - enabled me to be better prepared for the expanded management role that developed during and after my studies. Without the Executive MBA, I am not sure I would have been given this opportunity, she says.

New challenges

Since receiving her EMBA degree, Melanie has found herself referring back to reading material from a few key courses as a refresher when new challenges arise. For me, the greatest advantage was having a first-class program with flexible study options, leading professors, and an exceptional learning facility right in the middle of Frankfurt, an important financial capital. The benefits of my Executive MBA at the Goethe Business School have continued long after the degree was achieved, she says. So too, has the social network Melanie developed during her time in the classroom. The social aspect of the program was powerful and enjoyable. I stay in touch with many GBS graduates both on a professional and personal level, Melanie says.

With the EMBA experience behind her, Melanie is a sure-fire advocate for encouraging other candidates to pursue this challenging, but rewarding degree. If you are keen to challenge yourself beyond your expectations, feel you can balance a demanding career with private life, and believe your best days are ahead of you, then an Executive MBA can help you reach professional and personal goals you may not have ever anticipated, she says. And for women considering an EMBA: Although I had always prided myself as a woman who could balance many demanding t asks simultaneously, I tested my limits while studying in parallel to my demanding yet exciting full time career in asset management and maintaining a personal life. Looking back at the delicate balance I was able to sustain, I take pride in recalling the successes achieved both professionally and personally.