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Janina Bethscheider

For Janina Bethscheider, who lives in Germany, there was only one choice when it came to studying for her MBA – and it happened to be The Open University, where her dad had studied the same MBA when she was at high school.

“I was looking for a business school which met my criteria – full-time yet flexible distance learning, English-speaking, and with an international network. The OU met all of my requirements,” she said. “It was also recommended to me by OU alumni, including my dad, and this reinforced my decision. I never once regretted my choice.”

She added: “Experiencing the same learning pathways that my dad did make me feel so proud. However, it meant that he was the most challenging and critical discussion partner that I had during my MBA studies.”

A tough beginning

Janina says that after her first day school experience, she drove home feeling disillusioned.

“I wondered, how would I ever manage such difficult tasks and complete this MBA? But thankfully the OU provides plenty of support to help you manage ‘impossible’ tasks,” she said.

Little did Janina know at that point that she would later be awarded MBA Student of the Year in the OU Business School’s 2020/21 Student and Alumni Awards.

“I’d had difficulty understanding the questions and issues. But thanks to the OU’s comprehensive learning material – online and in books – and its experienced tutors, residential schools, and great network of fellow students, my first assignment turned out to be my best-assessed one throughout my studies. This really gave me self-confidence and motivated me for all TMAs to come.”

“The OU is a perfect partner”

As many students do, Janina had a lot on her plate during her studies, balancing a full-time job, her MBA and her personal life.

“Balancing everything required efficient time management. Every spare minute was taken up and accounted for in my schedule. I must say a huge thank you to my family for their support and understanding – it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

“If you’re thinking of studying, you can achieve anything you want to. The OU is a perfect partner to allow you a flexible and individual learning journey, within a great and diverse international network.”

A steep learning curve, but the OU was her ‘perfect partner’

Not only did Janina learn how to approach her studying in the best way, but she also learned the importance of looking at the ‘bigger picture’ during her MBA.

“Whatever the topic, I learned to take a step back and experience the different viewpoints of all stakeholders, to gain the big picture,” she said.

“Discussing complex issues with my fellow students and tutors always helped me to uncover the different viewpoints within our peer group. 

“Now, in other areas of life, I always avoid one-sided views on issues, explore other opinions and challenge my assumptions before I formulate my own views and decisions. I have never experienced such a steep learning curve before in my life!

“During my MBA studies, I went on an incredible development journey, which positively influenced my professional and personal life. This MBA helped me to individually grow into a self-motivated and confident person who challenges my assumptions and ways of working.”

Looking to the future

Janina works for Nestlé in Germany, where she says she is working smarter than ever, thanks to the skills she developed during her MBA.

“Based on my OU studies and related experiences, I’m working more efficiently. Plus, I’m more target-oriented and self-reflective – I scrutinise, challenge and analyse situations and business issues that I’d never have given a second thought to before,” she said. 

“The OU MBA is really practice-oriented – you apply learned theories by means of individually experienced management issues. This makes it tangible and applicable in your everyday life and work. You do not learn theories so that you know then ready to apply sometime in the future. You learn theories by directly applying them to your own business challenges which is incredibly useful.”

She has recently been on parental leave, but has now returned to her role. She said: “I’ve been back at work for six months and am looking forward to forthcoming challenges and my future career prospects.”