Transform Your Career: From Finance to Green Technology
Taking the leap from the finance world to saving the planet with cutting-edge tech company Green City Solutions, alumnus Felix Mann explains how the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA Program inspired him to make bolder career choices and seek a greater sense of purpose in his everyday working life.
My previous industry was finance – the first ten years of my career was with Deutsche Bank, which led to my first leadership position. I was going through the motions in terms of moving up the ladder, from one job role to another, always with two or three projects on the go. Eventually I decided that this lifestyle didn’t suit me or my goals, and I wanted to challenge myself in a new environment where I didn’t have an existing network or support system. I subsequently joined State Street – a global custody bank where I was overseeing marketing and communications for continental Europe but after some years, I could see that it would not challenge me in the way I hoped. I wanted to discover a career that I could really develop with, which led to me joining the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA Program.
I ultimately chose to join the program because leadership has such a strong focus within the curriculum and I was very eager to learn more. Being a good leader is something I am passionate about: I love to lead people and teams. I saw first-hand that having a great boss is a great motivating factor in helping you to be more productive. You spend so much time at work it is crucial to have a boss who interacts well with you, but also challenges and supports you as an individual. I was thrilled with the international elements of the program and the opportunity to experience other industries and businesses. After 12 years in finance, I felt stagnant and wanted to see what other possibilities where available.
“The Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA was a catalyst for me to switch industries and take my career into a new direction.”
I thought there was no way I could go into another industry without the expertise. I had experience in marketing and communications, but I always thought I could only thrive in finance. The Executive MBA was such a transformative and empowering experience - it truly broadened my horizons. I met many professionals from different industries, with differing opinions and ideas. I spent time in Tel Aviv, Chicago, and Hong Kong through the global electives. It really took me out of my finance ‘bubble ‘and challenged me to develop not only as a person, but also as a leader.
Shortly after the program, I joined TeamViewer – a software unicorn and one of the few German IT success stories. At first I was not sure since it was not a bank or a big corporate, but the confidence I had gained from the Executive MBA gave me the clarity to see that this was exactly what I needed at this stage in my life. I was ready to put into practice all the strategies, knowledge, and skills I had learnt from the program.
“I would say I am an example of how transformative the Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA can be.”
I felt so equipped and energized by the program, through software case studies and collaborating with IT professionals from different industries, that I took the position as Head of Corporate Communications. I set up a team of five people and transformed the business from a company with a regional mindset, to a globally oriented corporation.
Eventually I took the leap to become self-employed, contacted some software start-ups since I was already working in that field and before I knew it, I was part of the green and clean tech industry! It really is about defining your values and finding a product that you are passionate about. This all came together for me when I turned 40 last year: deciding to embark on a new journey, completely rediscovering myself, and doing a total turnaround of my career. It’s due largely to the Executive MBA, which exposed me to new insights and a network I simply didn’t have access to before.
“Sometimes it really is about discovering where your values lie and finding your purpose.”
Green City Solutions is a Green-Tech pioneer from Berlin, successfully working on realizing an extraordinary vision: to create urban living spaces where people can live more healthily. The core product - a moss powered air filter - is based on the unique idea of combining nature with IoT technology to improve air quality. I realized my experience working with start-ups, leadership skills, understanding of marketing, branding, and storytelling, all could help me make a positive impact on making this company successful. Many companies and start-ups in my perspective have a real purpose issue – they are often purely profit driven. This product combines technology with software and truly offers a smart and innovative solution to today’s problems with air pollution. We are tackling an issue that is affecting so many countries around the world, so we want to make it available to as many people as possible. I may be working more hours now than ever before in my professional career, but to see that what you do is making a positive difference in the world – there is no better feeling than that.