First month of Master’s in Management


Starting out in Berlin

Hello! I am now an ESMT student and since the start of the program 3 weeks ago, I have been wanting to put everything together including what is going on with the program, the classmates and of course, Berlin! So, I figured this would be the perfect platform to do so, since people might get something
out of this.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-4-20-04-pmThe first few weeks have been really promising, and the first week is the best welcome any university can have for its students, since we all came from different cultures and background, it was really good to have the first week to get to know each other. A usual conversation used to end up about getting to know something or the other about a country you didn’t really know well, also ESMT as well as the city of Berlin helps you with settling in as well.

Teaching Methodology:

Since I come from India, the universities I am accustomed to are a bit different in the sense of teacher student relationship, method of teaching, etc. I was expecting it to be different here, but this fabulous is not what I had expected. We got to meet the various faculties in the first week and a lot of faculties took interest in us personally, and greeted us every day and whenever there was a new class, one of the more familiar faces introduced them to us and so ESMT took a lot of care in making us feel at home (however I think this could be a “trap”). Decision theory is the first subject  we went through and looking back, I am quite amazed how much I have learnt in the last 3 weeks only! It gives me a lot of hope of the coming two years here.

Fellow Students and Classmates:

The students you meet on campus are really friendly and they always help you out with your queries regarding professors, exams, the internships, etc. Its really great to interact with them and have them give you the first take on whats it going to be like for the coming years. With the kind of work they did during their internships and the satisfaction level of each of them is pretty amazing too, it almost feels like career services helped them find the tailored internships somehow.

My classmates have been really really awesome too, they come from such a varied background and the diversity is another feat in itself. We have since the beginning of the program shared some group works, apartment issues, registration in the city, going through the german bureaucratic system together and of course partying together! All of this has had an impact on the class unity and I think we have a great and a verimg_20161010_231245  y interesting blend of people in the batch.

And now, Berlin:

I found myself, again and again, doing Berlin things. There’s really no way around it in Berlin

fotor_147603657571281Well Berlin is one of the most attractive attribute that ESMT students go for (if not the most attractive) and is rightly so. Berlin is a very vibrant city and its an amazing place to be. The people are more or less quite friendly (except for the lady at city registration) and you see a culture which in my opinion is hardly matched by any (and I have been to most of Europe). Sometimes, the nightlife of Berlin what it is glorified for (and rightly so), but the best thing in my opinion about this city is, even for people who don’t party much like me, there are ample of choices and things to do in the city (like Banksy art collection or the festival of lights, a lot  of places with historic significance etc.). Except for the fun part of Berlin another great feature of this city is its start up atmosphere, a lot of young berliners you speak to are very inclined to do something on their own and are generally very motivated in this aspect. There are a lot of start up meet ups which definitely provide anyone with an inclination to get the most out of this city’s ever growing start up space. Although I am yet to visit ESMT’s GTEC, I have heard a lot of amazing stuff about the centre and am very keen to meet them soon!

My main aim of writing this article is to give you a brief idea about the atmosphere and the positive environment around me, which is very highly  facilitated by ESMT’s super awesome faculties, admission team, the career services team, etc who always make you feel at ease and the surrounding ecosystem of your classmates and other study groups which provide you with a unique diverse and growth oriented atmosphere. This is what I think will steer ESMT to greater heights in the coming years!!

Summer Grill, July 3rd 2015

As planned, on July 3rd ESMT hosted a BBQ in the garden to honor the Kofi Annan Fellows and to present this year’s RLFs (Responsible Leadership Fellows) who have just returned from their 6-months mission. Apart from the Kofis (Kofi Annan Fellows) and RLFs, Friends of ESMT, ESMT professors and the Ambassador of Nepal also attended. The event was initiated and hosted by Prof. Wulff Plinke and his colleagues in ESMT.

Overview of the Summer Grill

Overview of the Summer Grill

Meet and Greet

Meet and Greet

After some casual greetings, Prof. Plinke started by telling a brief history of KABSF and the birth of the RLF. In a nutshell, KABSF (Kofi Annan Business School Foundation) was established to give a chance to talented students from under-developed countries to pursue higher education in leading six business schools in Europe. The RFL (Responsible Leaders Fellowship) is a program initiated to give ESMT graduates the opportunity to give back to the society through skills-based volunteering. The selected fellows are to provide a 6 months service to a deserving organization depends on mutual agreement between both parties.

This year’s RLF graduates are Mariana Helguera, Sergey Ten and Sherzod Abdujabborov who volunteered their services at TSiBA Education in Cape Town. Another fellow, Rahul Jain, worked with Welthungerhilfe in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. The four fellows shared their experiences, challenges, highlights and the priceless life lessons they learned with the crowd.

Left to Right: Rahul, Sergey, Sherzod, Prof. Plinke, and Mariana

Left to Right: Rahul, Sergey, Sherzod, Prof. Plinke, and Mariana

Next on the agenda, Prof. Plinke introduced the current Kofis who were present on the day. Due to the short notice of the event and different locations of KABSF business schools, there were only fellows from ESMT represent, but we strongly hope that the next event will be able to host Kofis from the other five business schools. Prof. Plinke, who is a leading factor in the formation of the Kofi Annan Alumni Association (KAAA) and who had drafted the KABSF First Years Report, introduced the six current fellows who are from MBA and MIM class. Each of them shared their experiences of being a Kofi, and how they expect their education in Europe to impact their future endeavours.

Left to Right: Prof. Plinke and ESMT MBA Kofis: Siyabonga Gobingca and Adeola Olatunji

Left to Right: Prof. Plinke, Siyabonga Gobingca and Adeola Olatunji

Ana Desiwijaya, another ESMT MBA Kofi, introduced herself and shared her experiences as a Kofi

Ana Desiwijaya, another ESMT MBA Kofi, introduced herself and shared her experiences as a Kofi

Left to Right: Prof. Plink and ESMT MIM Kofis: Matida Ndlovu, Sopha Nem, and Nelly Ogonda

Left to Right: Prof. Plinke, Matida Ndlovu, Sopha Nem, and Nelly Ogonda of the MIM class

It was a beautiful summer afternoon with good wine, good food, and good spirits. It had been a few months since we had last met up (as MIM students are doing internships), and everyone was delighted to see one another again. Old friends were reunited, new friends made, and endless laughter echoed until late evening.

Once again, we sincerely would like to thank KABSF, Prof. Plinke, Friends of ESMT, and others who are not mentioned here for providing us the opportunity to receive such a distinguished education and learning experience.

We are proud to be Kofis and RLFs!



Moments With My Mentor

Scepticism. That was my gut reaction when Nick Barniville first sent the Allianz scholarship holders an e-mail with the offer of arranging a personal mentor who was an ESMT alumnus and Allianz employee. I’d been down this road before, and it had been riddled with potholes. As part of a DAX30 company’s corporate programme to support young women pursuing a MINT degree, I had been assigned a mentor. Although excited about the opportunity at first, it hadn’t quite worked out the way I had envisioned it, and so I had come to view arranged mentorships with the same scepticism as arranged marriages.

What is a mentor? In Greek mythology, Mentor was put in charge of Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, while Odysseus fought in the Trojan war. Because of Mentor’s relationship with Telemachus, the personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague. [1]

So a day before I started my internship at Allianz, I called PA [2] and boldly introduced myself as his mentee. The strangest feeling ever. How do you just call up a stranger and say, “Hi, this is Matida – your mentee!”?
A meeting was arranged, and a couple of hours later we chatted over dinner near the English Garden in Munich. The first 30 minutes were a fast-paced sort of interview: Where are you from? What did you study? Why the ESMT? If you had €20,000 what stocks would you buy at the moment on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange? What would be your expected returns after six months? If you had no budget constraints, what business would you start today?
Be early for work, be reliable, look smart and sharp, do more than what is expected of you – that was the take-away message of that first meeting. With a firm handshake, the deal was sealed to meet up once a month, to give regular internship progress feedback, and to feel free to ask for advice.

This past Friday, during our third meeting over dinner, PA said something that gave me a big AHA! moment. I turned 25 a couple of months ago, and have been musing on life in general and my life in particular. If I am lucky to be conscious when I take my last breath, what are the things that will make me be able to say I ran a good race and fought a good fight? What will be my ‘KPIs’, as defined by me, that will make me say, “Oh wow…..oh wow…”? Quarter-life crisis? Nah, just reflecting and projecting.
PA then said, “Success is not accomplishment. Success is preparedness.” My furrowed brow must have indicated that I wasn’t buying it – not just yet.
Then he broke it down: In life, when you set rigid goals, you limit yourself. Don’t let your goals cage you in. What you should be doing is preparing for when life’s occasions and opportunities arise; when they do, let them find you prepared. Let reading expand your horizons, be inquisitive about the world, surround yourself with people smarter than you. That way, you’re preparing and opening yourself up for something even bigger than your wildest dreams.
“And when the occasion doesn’t arise?” I asked.
He shrugged, “That’s life. But then you’ll know you did everything possible – you did your part.”
By that time, I’d grabbed a pen and had jotted those lines onto my serviette, as I so often do when inspired.
Looking back, I just remembered that my Girl Guides motto was also, “Be prepared!” Hmmm….now it makes bigger sense than just making sure you have your pocket knife on you when you go on 5th grade field trip.

Today, I have FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) to thank for taking up Nick’s offer 🙂 I’m grateful to all those who organized this mentorship opportunity. A big “Thank you!” also goes out to my mentor for taking time out of his busy schedule to impart his wisdom and to share his knowledge with me. May I be a worthy student.

Signing off,

Mentorship: “Indlela ibuzwa kwabaphambili” – A Ndebele proverb that can be loosely translated to mean that the twists and turns of life’s road ahead of you are best asked about from those who have already trodden it.



[2] I have only given my mentor’s initials, as I have not asked for permission to use his name in this blog post. I could just write to him and ask, but by the time I get a reply, I may not be as inspired to share this post.

Women. Phenominally.

A salute! To all women breaking barriers, breaking their backs to fend for their young; to all the mothers bearing and raising babies (oftentimes by themselves) and bawss-ladies leading from the boardrooms, research labs, TV screens and lecture halls – I salute you! Today, the 8th of March marks the international, annual celebration of womenfolk.

I watched a movie today that made me reflect on a conversation that I had just over a year ago….

A couple of classmates and me were complaining, as students usually do, about how tough and strict one professor was on us. We all agreed that this particular professor was very smart and very competent, but very tough as well. Did I mention that the lecturer in question is female? One classmate, let’s call him John, one I considered particularly smart and poised for ‘success’ (whatever that means) then belted out, “She’s such a slave-driving **t**, man!” (Do excuse my language. No, actually, excuse John. I’m just quoting. 🙂 )


Oh. No. You. Did’nt! As Germans would say, “Da hört der Spass auf, Junger.”

When I asked John if he’d just heard himself, he turned beet-red, and tried to explain by saying that he “hadn’t really meant it that way”. When out of interest I prodded further and asked if he would have insulted a male professor in a similar manner, he muttered, “Probably not.” I’m not quite sure whether John appreciated the full implications of his statement. I fear that that was not the last time I will hear such a comment about women who are considered ‘bossy’ or ‘pushy’ in comparison to their male counterparts who would be lauded for their ‘assertiveness’ or ‘strong-willed characters’ when exhibiting the same or similar characteristics.

While incredible milestones have been reached in advancing the rights of women across the world, rights that I gratefully enjoy, research shows that (subconscious) prejudices against assertive, confident women still remain in the corridors of corporate power. And no, it is not only men, but also sometimes even other women who suffer from the PHD syndrome (PHD: Pull Her Down). While I haven’t personally experienced that yet because I haven’t been in these corridors too long, research shows that it’s real. That’s scary, and sad.

The movie I watched today was Selma. Exactly 50 years ago, on March the 8th 1965, thousands of people of all ages, creeds and races crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. They marched with their arms linked in unity, solidarity and bravery for the voting rights of African-Americans. It was not the lonely effort of a single group of people, but the collective effort of many groups coming together. It is not enough to raise girls to believe that the world is their oyster. Boys too, boys especially, should be raised to understand the social and even economic value of supporting the women around them. Then we’ll have less people with John-like mentalities. “We Should All Be Feminists” is the title of my favourite author, Chimamanda Adichie’s, viral TED talk – I suggest you watch it.

Assignments beckon, so I have to dash. But not before I propose a toast, to all the women and men that have gone before us and have stubbornly made it possible for girls today (in many parts of the world) to have dreams and be able to strive towards them. Women that were, that are, and to those that are to come in business, education, science, the arts, television and many other fields – a salute; not just today, but everyday!

To all the women, phenomenal women, the bawss-ladies of this world: Keep doing your thing!

Happy 125th Birthday Allianz!

Last Wednesday, 4th of February 2015, all of our ESMT Allianz Scholars have been invited to attend Allianz 125th Anniversary and its public dialog regarding “Social and Demographic Change in the 21st Century”. On February 5th, 1890, Allianz was entered into the trade register in Berlin. So…

Happy Birthday Allianz!

The Event

As a summary, the event started with the speech from the CEO of Allianz SE, Michael Diekmann, who introduced the major demographic changes in this era. He mentioned: “Our societies are undergoing profound change as they get older and digital technology becomes more widespread. This will alter the face of tomorrow’s society completely”. The idea was then related directly to the speech from Wolfgang Schäuble, German Federal Minister of Finance. He explained how important sustainable public finances are when it comes to mastering the challenges of demographic change. Followed up was the keynote from the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Jan Eliasson, who acknowledged the change.

There was also a forum where academics from across the globe took part in a panel discussion to talk about key demographic trends and their impact on both individuals and society as a whole from the perspective of the younger generation. Two of our Allianz Scholars: Tida and Bar were in the discussion as well.

Our Participation & Contribution

To celebrate and related to its 125th anniversary, Allianz SE is providing 125 scholarships to ESMT students to be awarded in course of five years for degree program candidates. Among these, 35 scholarships for the MIM and full-time MBA programs are earmarked for Kofi Annan Business Schools Foundation Fellows.

Here, I would like to introduce our current Allianz Scholars. We were presented by Allianz CEO, and prior to that we have been asked to talk about our views about demographic changes and the video is recorded and played in both public dialog events in Berlin & Munich.

ESMT Allianz Scholars

Personal Reflection & Experience

All in all, it was a wonderful event. The keynotes and forum were very interesting and gave a lot of fruits for thoughts. Personally, coming from South East Asia, this event gave a lot of information about welfare in European societies. The gap in demographic change readiness is obviously there. We had a chance to talk to Jan Eliasson and other important figures in Allianz as well. There was also this quote that Tida gracefully concluded during the panel discussion that keeps us all in awe. It was about the philosophy of Ubuntu – a Nguni philosophy which, in English, translates to ‘I am because WE are’.

We were supported, we were involved, and we were given an opportunity to be a part of the Allianz circle. To me – it meant so much. Thank you Allianz!