Joerg Fleckenstein: “The monthly system of Schiller is like the real world”
January 25, 2023
All Knowledge Areas
*Interview by Sonia Alegre, Schiller Alumni
Joerg Fleckenstein graduated from Schiller Heidelberg in the Spring of 2021, with a Master's degree in Business Administration. Prior to completing his MBA, he had a successful career in fundraising for the nonprofit sector in London, and in business development and fundraising in research institutions such as the German Cancer Research Center and Human Rights Watch in Germany. Originally from Karlsruhe, he studied International Relations and Third World Studies at the University of Westminster. Currently, he is in the process of setting up his own business. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member of our Distant Learning programs.
Why did you choose Schiller?
I wanted to do an MBA and I liked the international approach that Schiller had, it was not like the typical German University at all. In Schiller, you have an international kind of outlook with international students and an international faculty body. Also, what I liked was the monthly module, in the way that you can kind of deep dive into a subject for one month, do one course, finish it off, and then look at the next one. It's kind of what I see a bit more like in the real world. When you work on projects, you don't work on separate projects over two years, you work on one project and finish it and go on to the next one and I quite liked this about Schiller.
You decided to start your own business after your MBA at Schiller, is that a coincidence, or did the MBA have an influence on your decision?
I studied on the Heidelberg campus. I started full-time in 2020 but then the pandemic hit and my new job forced me to switch to online only. While I can´t give the credit of my decision solely to Schiller, it certainly helped. A year after graduation, I realized there was something that I had wanted to do for a long time, my little dream so to speak, which is to run a little food truck for events. So I thought, it´s either now or never and I started renovating a food truck over the summer. At the moment, I am still preparing it for the next season because winter in Germany is so difficult, so I will start properly in Spring. Last year, it has been about the proof of concept, testing the things I am going to offer, seeing if my menu is working and if the people like it, and all that, and then preparing the marketing.
What learnings from Schiller will you be using for your own business?
Well, having made the MBA certainly has given me good knowledge as to how to run a business, specifically I have learned a lot about accounting, which I never did when I was doing fundraising, and also some very useful skills in account management and marketing. Having learned the academic side of business administration certainly has given me the confidence to take this step. And, if I compare it to my previous experience working for companies, whether for non-profit or private companies, the difference now is that nothing depends on the politics of a big organization, it all depends on me now. Also, and especially in the last few years, most of my work was really focused on working with a computer, looking at people on the screen, independent of the coronavirus crisis, and I really enjoy much more having some personal interaction and a real product, being able to prepare something and giving it to people and seeing an immediate response. Plus, the fact that you have to do your own marketing, accounting and management and development plans is great. I think that when you reach a certain age you feel like you have to try this now or
it's never gonna happen. It´s about not regretting it too in the future.
What did you like best about Schiller?
The international student body and the small and intense courses. It was kind of an intimate atmosphere somehow. Also, the interactions with the instructors while we were on campus before the lockdown. I like to look back at my experience, which was both online and on campus, and I am just grateful that I had the opportunity and glad to make good use of it.
Were there any particular subjects, students or teachers that made an impact on you?
Certainly, accounting. This was probably the one course that was most relevant to what I am doing now and in which I didn't have experience before. As for people, there was a couple from Mongolia who was very interesting.
What would you like to get out of the alumni initiative?
Unfortunately, and perhaps due to the pandemic, I didn't have as much contact as I would have liked to have with other fellow students. There were nice people in my class but I didn't get to have deeper contact or develop a strong friendships and I would love to be able to network with fellow students and alumni.