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Why a business manager pursued an innovation-focused master’s degree

Stefan Learner Story.png

Stefan is deeply passionate about innovation. As a business solution manager at a global innovation service provider in Germany, innovation is a core part of his job. To help him excel at work and gain a foundational understanding of innovation and organizational leadership, he enrolled in the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Online Master of Leadership in Service Innovation program.

What edX course or program did you take and what were your goals in taking it?

I'm enrolled in the University of Queensland’s Online Master of Leadership in Service Innovation program. My main motivation for the program comes from my passion for innovation. As a business solution manager at a global innovation service provider in Germany, I’m always working with innovation. The master's program allows me to get scientifically engaged with innovation and understand the concepts and the factors that foster innovation more deeply.

I was compelled by the possibility to obtain a master's degree from such an excellent and recognized university while working at the same time. The master's program is perfect for "on the job" training.

How was your experience learning online?

I have had only positive experiences with my contacts at UQ. This positive experience applies not only to the teaching staff, but also to the people who support you in other ways (e.g., administration). In my case, I was given generous support during the application process, when I needed help recognizing my German diplomas.

Answers to my questions rarely take longer than 24 hours, there are separate Zoom sessions to keep in touch, and we have a Facebook group where the staff members are actively involved. It sometimes feels strange that although I am on the other side of the earth, I feel like I am a genuine part of UQ. Also, during my time at UQ, I have learned to appreciate the Australian mentality. Although the studies are demanding and rigorous, my interactions with the Australian faculty members are fun and relaxed.

How has your learning impacted your career, life, or community?

It's important not to be under any illusions: taking an online master’s program at a top 50 university is not easy. On the contrary, you may have to work one or two all-nighters on top of a full-time job. But with passion and commitment, this is not only manageable but can also be a real pleasure. If you don’t have enough time to study, UQ even offers a flexible choice of courses.

Additionally, the overall quality of UQ is exceptional: the courses are based on the latest research, the professors have published articles in respected journals on innovation, and the students bring diverse perspectives. Furthermore, the mix of teaching methods delivered via edX makes the courses very interesting and rewarding.

How do you plan to use your learning in the future? What’s next for you?

At the moment, I am very happy with my current job, so I am not planning to change careers. I am just glad my studies have helped me become better at what I am already doing. But even the best innovators do not know what the future will bring. For example, I can imagine starting my own business. I can also imagine using the master's program as a stepping stone for further study or research innovation. And at some point, I want to somehow contribute my knowledge to the greater good, like tackling climate change.

What advice would you give new edX students?

The most important thing is to do what you love! Choose a degree that fits your interests. From my perspective, this is very important to succeed at an online master's degree.

I also told my family about my study plans and created a fixed schedule. Every morning at 5:30 a.m. is UQ time for me. Devoting a small chunk of time every day helped me stay on track. You should also always expect unforeseeable work or personal commitments, so keep an eye on deadlines and start your assignments early. And lastly: engage with your classmates and the staff, ask questions, ask for help, keep in touch, and build relationships.

Last updated: January 2021