MBA Alumni Profile: Cathrina Pfeiffer, Cranfield

Cranfield MBA alumna Cathrina Pfieffer profile

Cranfield alumnus Cathrina Pfeiffer talks to us about her decision to pursue an MBA at the institute and her learnings from the course.

1. In May 2002 when I had to decide which school I would finally choose, the most important question I usually asked recent graduates always was: "Would you choose your school again?"  Today, eight months after graduating from Cranfield I can very happily and enthusiastically say "Yes!" - I could not possibly imagine to have done my MBA at a different school.      

I went to Cranfield, because of the school's good position in the rankings (11th in the world in the 2003 Economist ranking), its academic track record, its professional organisation of the programme and its case study-based way of teaching, which is so different from how things are taught at German universities.      

2. I graduated in September 2003 and what I had come for in the first place in September 2002 (an excellent course of business administration at a top school) differs completely from what I consider to be the most important things I've taken away.      

There seems to be little difference in what is taught during the core courses at most reputable business schools. However, everything beyond the core courses gives each business school its unique character.  Of course, I have left Cranfield knowing how to calculate NPVs and WACCs, but I am convinced I could have gained similar knowledge (albeit maybe not from the mouths of such renowned teachers) doing a distance learning course.  But there are three factors that contributed to making my experience at Cranfield unforgettable:  its location, its unique focus on personal development and, most of all, the people.      

The fact that Cranfield is a campus university creates a unique atmosphere. As MBA students we not only studied together, but shared our lives, played sports and partied together. And by doing all this, we became more than just fellow students - we became friends for life.  The work in international learning teams with the guidance of three renowned lecturers of psychology and organisational behaviour, the leadership course, and a host of different opportunities for personal development, have made me more aware of myself and of what is going on in my work environment.      

At events like the International Business Schools' Regatta, which Cranfield organises on the Isle of Wight, it was very interesting to see that every business school leaves their mark on its students. Or is it the school's selection process that brings together a group of students who are incredibly diverse, and yet united from the beginning by an intangible bond - be it ambition, common goals, attitudes or motivations? Even across different years, it seems that Cranfield students are not only extremely well-educated and bright, but typically they are open, internationally-minded team players.      

At Cranfield, full-time MBAs get a one-week induction ("orientation week") by the graduates of the previous year. On the Friday of orientation week, our first week at Cranfield in September 2002, after four days of introducing us to what then seemed a maze of abbreviations and ground rules, most orienteers were in floods of tears, many of them unable to speak. It was then, before I had even started the actual MBA, that I knew I had taken the right decision to come to Cranfield. Because it must be an exceptional school where students, after one year of little spare time and studying extremely hard, have become so attached to each other that the thought of going back to their home countries and cities seems so difficult to bear that it makes them cry.      

The year was what we made of it and it was no doubt one of the most intense years I will ever experience.  Periods of intense studying were followed by great parties - our Christmas party, a 70s party after term two with our MBA band, called 23G (a reference to the Cranfield tuition fees), and our unforgettable end-of-year ball.  The two events I would consider to be my personal highlights of the year are rugby - the fact that we beat the LBS (London Business School) girls on our sports day was the peak of my short MBA rugby career - and sailing, where we were a little less successful, but had just as much fun seeing so many like-minded people from different business schools in one place.      

3. I have now been back in work life for 8 months and it is not surprising to see that the Cranfield network is, of course, a formal network with website and alumni book. But more importantly, it is a social network: The "Cranfield experience" is unique and unites students - even across years and across continents.

Written by QS Blogger
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