After years of professional experience, out of the boss’s chair and back to university? Certainly not an easy step, but sometimes necessary in an ever faster-moving world. Sergey Semenov took exactly this step and has been studying for an MBA at Munich Business School since March 2021. In addition, he is enrolled in the Digital Business Management course. In this interview, he talks about his experiences and his understanding of lifelong learning.
MBS Insights: Dear Sergey, tell us a bit about yourself and your journey through life so far: What did you do before you started your MBA studies and why did you decide to study again after 20 years of professional experience in management?
Sergey Semenov: I an owner and former CEO of a Russian software company with 20 years of experience. I consider working in the IT industry very exciting because there are always a lot of changes. For example, my business is currently experiencing an upheaval resulting from digitalization and the associated change in business models. Because of this upheaval, I felt very clearly that I needed new ideas and approaches that correspond to the modern world. In the end, I decided to study for an MBA because I see it as a stepping stone that can change my life greatly – in a positive sense.
MBS Insights: Why did you choose Munich Business School for your further education? What were your main motives?
Sergey Semenov: There were several reasons why I chose exactly MBS. First of all, studying business in Russia did not seem like a reasonable option to me, as I had already studied in Russia from 2004-2006. I worked in the local economy for a long time, but I always wanted to try something new, to think outside the box. Germany is a European country with a strong economy and Munich has always appealed to me. Before making my final decision, I did a little research. I found some people who had already studied at MBS and I asked them for their opinion. They gave me extremely positive feedback about MBS, so I no longer had any doubts about where I would study.
MBS Insights: You study the MBA General Management full-time. In your opinion, what characterizes the MBA program at Munich Business School? What have been the greatest insights you have gained from the program so far, and which components do you enjoy the most?
Sergey Semenov: First of all, I would like to say that studying at MBS exceeds my expectations. Since I already completed an MBA program at Lomonosov Moscow State University, I can compare both study programs. In Russia, the focus is mainly on acquiring theoretical knowledge. In contrast, MBS places great emphasis on practice-oriented skills and soft skills. I like that because that is exactly what I was missing. The fact that we do much more group work here than in Russia is another positive difference. Intercultural communication also plays an important role for me. Furthermore, I appreciate that students have the opportunity to attend numerous lectures by guest lecturers in addition to the main courses. This broadens my horizon a lot.
MBS Insights: In addition to your MBA studies, you are currently also completing the Digital Business Management course at MBS. How did this come about and what do you hope to achieve by taking part in the course?
Sergey Semenov: This course plays a very important role for me. A well thought-out digital strategy is exactly what my company needs at the moment. We have always sold a digital product – software – but that is no longer enough. As I’ve already found out, we need not only to digitalize our business processes, but also to find a new place for our company in the new digital world, because old, once very profitable business models will soon no longer exist.
MBS Insights: What is your impression after the first modules? Can you briefly tell us how the course is structured and what the most important course objectives are? Who would you recommend to attend the course?
Sergey Semenov: I like the fact that the course was built with real German thoroughness. It covers all aspects of digitalization from customer centricity as a prerequisite for digitalization to the implementation of digital initiatives. Do you know of any industry that digitalization is none of its business? I don’t! That’s why I can recommend this course to anyone who wants to run a profitable business in the future. For me personally, this course is probably the most important in my studies.
MBS Insights: And to conclude: What does lifelong learning mean to you personally and what importance do you attribute to it in the working world of the future?
Sergey Semenov: For me, it’s quite clear: Even now, lifelong learning is the only way to remain competitive and to develop personally. I am firmly convinced that you cannot do without lifelong learning at the moment. Especially in the IT industry, the business environment is changing so fast that you simply can’t afford not to think about continuing education. And there’s no doubt that continuing education will become even more important in the future.