Julie Link Steffens

The core of the MaastrichtMBA programme is our students. Students with a broad diversity on nationality, age and even professional background. The insights and thoughts of our MBA students describe the true experience of the MaastrichtMBA. This time we walked with our American student Julie Link Steffens. Julie Link is a Managing Director of Splendid Studios, a TV and film production company in Germany. She is based in Cologne, Germany but originally from Texas, where she grew up. She then lived in LA for 20 years before moving to Germany – “we do crazy things for love!”

CHOOSING TO DO AN MBA – IT’S A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE…

Choosing to do an MBA is a very personal experience. I chose to do it because in my work I’d never been number one, always number two. I’d managed teams in large corporations, but I thought it would be important for when that time came.

I understand university settings, but I’ve not been to a university in a European setting and I wanted to find out what that was like. In the US, we have a very different way of thinking, and I wanted to use that to my benefit instead of my weakness.

I needed a sparring partner. The MBA was the right place for me. I love it; it’s very personal for me. It has to be your choice. That was what I learnt very quickly after the first module, how important this decision is, and it is a choice. You can choose to get the best out of it, or you can sit back and just get the three letters, but you have to make it a personal journey.

I started in Sept 2017. I did the first module, Accounting and Finance, but then, I produced my first movie, and so that is what’s so great about this MBA, if it‘s too much for you, you can pause, which is not how they do it in the US.  I think that that kind of flexibility is pretty cool, you wouldn’t get that in another university.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE THIS EXECUTIVE MAASTRICHTMBA?

I did a lot of research on what would be beneficial for me. It is multi-cultural, and I like the openness of the Dutch way of thinking. When I looked across the board at what would be most beneficial for me, flexibility was key for me, I have 2 children, a full-time job and a husband who I only see when when we fly!

The ability to have a ‘family’ relationship with the course is great. I can call Pia and say I’m struggling with this this year and she would help me out with what my options would be. So, the personal element, the flexibility is great, and I like that it’s still theory based.

I met with Boris (Boris Blumberg, MBA Director) in my first week and I thought, well that’s cool! I instantly felt at home. The flexibility and the personable side of it was wonderful.

HOW DO YOU BENEFIT FROM DOING THIS PROGRAMME IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY WORK?

I use it every day. I wish I could come every week because I learn a lot and I immediately apply it.

I think it’s also about reflection, something may come up that I learnt and then I use the information that I have and try to apply it there, so the day to day is incredibly valuable, but you don’t see it until you need it. Sometimes that light bulb moment doesn’t go on until you’re truly in the heat of it.

AS A MANAGING DIRECTOR, HOW IMPORTANT IS THE MAASTRICHTMBA FOR YOUR MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS?

On a management level I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t have some of the sparring partners that I’ve had on the course, because I have changed almost every way that I have operated after each module. I would’ve never had the opportunity to have such deep discussions in a work setting. I’ve completely changed my management style, and I’m testing these things, based on what I’m learning and it’s never a clear path, but that’s the beauty of learning and I want to learn more. But, you have to be open to that, the buddy coaching, the sessions outside the main core learning, you learn so much from them all. The application time and the reflection time has been fantastic and has helped me be a better manager.

That’s what’s so awesome about this! Never in the world would you get to have such an open conversation with people from this many different backgrounds and this many different areas of work. All those preconceived ideas, this course really breaks down those walls, forces you together and you have to do it quickly and then you have to dive in deeply. You get out what you put in. That’s what the safe and open environment creates and that’s what having the diversity creates.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE CONSIDERING AN EXECUTIVE MBA AT THE MAASTRICHTMBA?

I always recommend that if you want to do it, take the next steps. Just walk out the door and start doing the research. I said 20 years ago, I’m going to get an MBA. Take the first step and if that little thing in the back of your head says go learn more, you’ll find a way to get it done. Prioritise what’s important to you and the rest falls into place.

WHAT IS THE MOST ENJOYABLE PART OF THE MAASTRICHTMBA PROGRAMME?

I always thought relationships were valuable, but maybe only in my area of expertise. Now I realise, relationships are very valuable if you’re open to them.

The most enjoyable part of it is breaking down what you think you know and opening to the reality of what you didn’t know and that creates a different perspective. That’s what we need for every situation. The MBA isn’t just about getting a business education, it’s about raising your awareness of the world and what you’re contributing. It is really about interpersonal relationships and I thought I knew that, but boy was I wrong!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME JULIE. ALL THE BEST WITH THE REST OF THE MBA PROGRAMME!

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