Tobias Haar, EMBA 2016
General Counsel / Member of the Executive Board
Tobias, what did you expect to gain from an MBA?
The capability to think out of the box and to get an even deeper understanding of hard skills, such as statistics, finance, marketing, etc..., as well as taking my soft skills, mainly leadership skills, to the next level. I am also a strong believer in lifelong learning – and taking some quality time after a couple of years in senior positions to extend your own business and personal horizon makes absolute sense … and can also be a lot of fun! In addition, meeting and networking with people from various backgrounds in a non-business context can also be a “career sanity check” and provide valuable impulses.
Why, in your opinion, do people often believe lawyers can’t make good businessmen?
There seems to be a recurring belief that lawyers are somewhat removed from (business) reality. This holds true in some cases as our profession is (somewhat) different from others. Lawyers use words as their swords, not numbers. They seem to be sometimes seen as advisors who focus too much on what the law says and not enough on what business sense tells them. They sometimes tend to use their legal language to differentiate themselves from the rest of the world and by doing this they build walls and shield themselves from others. All this also holds true for other professions by the way. There is also the saying “judex non calculate” (the judge does not calculate), which makes lawyers even more suspicious to number-driven business people.
However, when it comes to corporate lawyers who advise their internal or external clients in business related matters they can only be successful if they have a good and thorough understanding of the underlying mechanics – whether it is abstract numbers or interdependencies between tasks and business functions and the main drivers and rationales. If a lawyer is able to add non-lawyer business skills to his unique professional expertise then he/she can also be a good businessman/businesswoman. And luckily the number of “good business lawyers” is steadily increasing which has beneficial effects for both parties: their clients/employers and themselves. My advice: don’t judge a book by its cover – judge a lawyer (and any other professional) by his capabilities rather than by his educational background or specialty. There are always two sides of a story.
You are starting the next phase in your EMBA program, what have you learned so far? How is the EMBA impacting your current job?
I have learned so many things. It’s a great experience to be back in school and to learn and even write exams! Interestingly enough, it is also somewhat challenging to get used to attending classes from morning to evening followed by group sessions until late again. Content-wise I was impressed by the non-finance classes (which I expected and which were really great) such as marketing and leadership skills.
Without mentioning time management efforts to fit the MBA with my everyday working life, the impact on my job has been growing as I go along with the program. When it is time for me to make decisions, I now look at things from many more perspectives than ever before and strive to become an even better leader as businesses do not just consist of numbers and short-term profits but also of people. The main challenge is to find the right balance between these two main aspects of business.