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Tillmann Henssler

Tillmann Henssler from Germany says The Open University has created so many opportunities in his award-winning career at pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer.

“The MBA at the OU was one the best things I have done in my life,” says Tillmann, now 55 and living in Berlin. “I started studying while working as a junior manager. After I completed the course, I started a new job with Pfizer. So the OU opened up a new door for me.”

Tillmann has gone on to enjoy a 20+ year career with Pfizer since graduating and says the skills he learned during his studies gave him the knowledge and confidence to take on new challenges.

“When you have an MBA, you can do different types of work in different functions. It’s definitely helped me to make another career change,” he said. “It’s not restrictive to finance or HR – you can almost do anything. It can open doors to any business roles.”

Flexible learning

One of the reasons Tillmann chose the OU is for its flexibility. Choosing supported distance learning meant he could fit study around his life, as he explains:

You have full flexibility day or night. You can take the study materials anywhere you want. You can study at work. You can study at home or on holidays. I remember we went on a houseboat trip in France in Burgundy, and I had a test to prepare for so I took my books. With the virtual forums you can chat with students and tutors and share best practices and learnings.

He was also attracted to the OU’s ‘excellent’ academic reputation:

"I chose the OU because it has a fantastic reputation. It has an excellent academic reputation in Germany. And with its triple accreditation, it’s in the top 1% of the world’s business schools.

“Big employers value the MBA programme,” he adds. “The courses are recognised all over the world. I found that the OU supported distance learning – you can even study from abroad!”

A passion for supporting others

Tillmann now works at Pfizer as a Disability, Equality and Inclusion Manager – an area that is very close to his heart. He is passionate about creating change in the workplace for people with disabilities and has received international recognition for his ongoing advocacy.

I feel proud to be working for a company that has made impressive strides to be accommodating to those with disabilities, and in this way helping them to grow and succeed in the workplace.

Tillmann has won a trio of awards including the OU’s Student and Alumni Achievement Award, the Global Disability Leadership Award from Pfizer and recognition as an Influential Leader from AACSB, the world’s largest business education alliance.

“The opportunity to be awarded as an influential leader for disability inclusion is amazing,” says Tillmann. “Removing barriers at the workplace for people with disabilities is so important, so that they feel valued, empowered and enabled to reach their full potential to be successful in their career.

Connecting with worldwide learners

Through his Open University studies, Tillmann connected with learners from around the world and still stays in touch with fellow alumni:

“I help to organise get-togethers for alumni in Berlin. It’s great fun to keep up and learn from each other and see how they’re progressing in their career.

“We always look back with great pride that we studied at the OU.”

Tillmann has remained a big supporter of the OU and says he still recommends it to anyone looking to progress in their career, wherever they are in the world. He said:

I would recommend the OU to anyone all over the world because you can fit it around your life. You can do the course online whenever you have time and it has a fantastic reputation.

“The amazing thing is even if you did your qualification 20 years ago like me, it’s still relevant. You’ve got the foundation of all the knowledge required for business.”

Tillmann's story was originally published on The OU news website; click to read the original article.