Tandem Testimonials

2014/15

Tandem Story 1 

The mentor: Andreas Schwab completed his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration at Webster Vienna Private University in 1997. In 2014, he founded his own consulting company Unacum focusing on compliance, risk management, business coaching and mental training.  

The mentee: Alexandre Koletsis will be completing his Bachelor of Arts in Management at Webster Vienna Private University in December 2015. He is currently doing an internship at PwC Austria.  

Why did you decide to join Webster’s mentoring program as a mentor/mentee? 

Schwab: I decided to join because it was something I have never done before, it promised to be interesting and I was just curious.

Koletsis: I was interested in hearing the opinion of an expert in the field in which want to work in the future. It seemed thus a great opportunity to meet with such an expert who was willing to openly discuss pros and cons of the career I want to pursue.

How was your first meeting? 

Schwab: The first meeting was very interesting with both of us not sure what to expect, but I guess it worked out just fine.

Koletsis: The first meeting was very interesting, as having both been students at Webster University we had common ground and experiences which allowed a good understanding of one’s knowledge and aims, but also led to a great climate right from the start, as one felt trust build up quickly. In addition, my mentor really was interested in my motivations and my ideas for my future.

What was the best moment for you during the mentoring? 

Schwab: The most rewarding moment for me was to hear that I could contribute something to make it successful for Alexandre.

How would you describe your mentoring relationship? 

Schwab: To describe it in three words: open, friendly, interesting.

Koletsis: Andreas is a highly interesting, experienced business expert. He listened, was interested in me and was really willing to share his experiences and views with me. Moreover, our shared love for Australia bound us together. This also shows that the personal component was very important.

What do you like most about your mentor/mentee? 

Schwab: Alexandre is a very dedicated and focused young man, who has quite a clear picture of what he wants to achieve and which path he wants to take.

Koletsis: I really appreciated that my mentor was able to give me great advice which has served me already for my career. In addition, he is an incredibly positive and motivating person.

What did you gain from being a mentor/mentee? 

Schwab: It was an interesting new experience and it is just a rewarding feeling if you can help someone by passing on your business experience. It is also interesting to work with young people as they bring their own academic and work experience into the program, learning from them as the academic and professional work has changed somewhat over the last 15-20 years.

Koletsis: Being a mentee allowed me to meet with an experienced business expert who was really willing to share his experience and to answer questions I had. I would not have been able to gain these insights so quickly in any other way.

Tandem Story 2

The mentor: Georg Ehrhart completed his MBA at Webster Vienna Private University in 1987. Since then he has gained a wealth of experience in consulting. Currently, he is a partner at Schwabe, Ley & Greiner Gesellschaft, the leading treasury consultancy in Central Europe. 

The mentee: Vladimir Gavranic, finished his Master of Finance at Vienna Private University in May 2015. He is currently completing his internship in NWU Funding Management at the Raiffeisen International Bank.  

Why did you decide to join Webster’s mentoring program as a mentor/mentee?

Gavranic: I wanted to have a chance to get to know some of the respectful Webster Vienna Alumni.

Ehrhart: I joined because I wanted to pass on practical know-how, which I very much appreciated from the tutors I enjoyed at Webster back in 1986/87.

How was your first meeting?

Gavranic: First meeting was all about getting to know each other’s background. 

Ehrhart: Most positive, since the student assigned to me works in the same niche, i.e. treasury management. This proved mutually beneficial since we understood each other immediately.

How would you describe your mentoring relationship?

Gavranic: I would describe it as extremely valuable for professional and personal growth.

Ehrhart: I got to know a very hard-working and highly focused student who had a challenging job at a bank in parallel to his studies.

What was the best moment for you during the mentoring?

Gavranic: Free lunch! :) Just joking, me asking several times similar questions to understand underlying concepts and Mr. Ehrhart patience to explain them to me. It is not usual that young people like me have such a chance to have personal talks with such an expert in the field.

Ehrhart: Vladimir did not give up trying to understand a very demanding thesis topic which I helped to identify for and with him - but left him completely on his own trying to work his way through it. His topic is both most relevant to practitioners in the field and, at the same time, not yet really researched despite its analytical merits. He always asked the right questions digging further from one cross road to the next one until the final destination.

What do you like most about your mentor/mentee?

Gavranic: I liked his commitment to the whole mentoring program. On top of his extremely busy schedule and flights from country to country Georg found time for the meetings with me and was accessible all the time for my questions. Beside the fact that such a successful professional would share his valuable time with a young student like me. 

Ehrhart: Vladimir did not give up on his challenging thesis topic which made him sleep less during thesis time. This deserves a particularly positive remark, most others would have waived it for an easier topic. Vladimir´s positive attitude and sound ambition should serve him well for his future professional development.

What did you gain from being a mentor/mentee?

Gavranic: It was great learning curve. However, beside valuable knowledge in the respective field of interest, the most important is the fact that you created a new quality interpersonal relationship. It was a great feeling to receive a text message wishing great Christmas holidays from my mentor, or simply checking on me how I am doing and so on.

Ehrhart: I appreciated that students today face a much higher pressure to combine work and studies than I had to 30 years ago. Regrettably, Vladimir´s visa and work permit requirements in Austria serve as an additional burden. Talented and hard-working young people must be offered incentives to stay, not obstacles, otherwise we risk losing them to countries where their contribution is most welcomed. 

Tandem Story 3

The mentor: Michal Sterba completed his MBA at Webster Vienna Private University in 2012. After many years of experience as project manager in banking and as PMO at OMV, he decided to become an independent Shared Services Consultant. Currently, he is running a shared service project for a key customer/production company headquartered in Austria with a strong international presence.

The mentee: Sven Babic graduated from Webster Vienna Private University in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He is currently doing an internship at the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). 

Why did you decide to join Webster’s mentoring program as a mentor/mentee?

Sterba: I decided to join the program immediately after I received the initial invitation from Webster. In particular, I felt that this was a meaningful initiative potentially having a big positive impact on all its participants – mentees on their job search, mentors willing to shape their coaching skills and the organizational team to further improve the program in the years to come. As a prospective mentor, I was confident that I could share number of relevant lessons from my more than 15 years long international career. Of course, another very important consideration was the opportunity to stay connected with Webster University and its Alumni Association.

Babic: Graduating was a tough time. I was not certain what I wanted to do and a lot of the careers that are considered a domain of business majors started seeming unappealing to me. The only people I could talk to were older people like my parents. They could conceptualize what I was going through but they did not think a lot of it. Their stance was: you will find something. My thought process was that if someone applied to be a mentor to a graduating student, he or she would have a better understanding of my situation and could provide advice that I could relate to and apply.

How was your first meeting?

Sterba: We met at Starbucks in the first Vienna district. We exchanged a lot of information about ourselves and agreed a simple plan on how we meet and communicate during the program. For me it was a very pleasant and informative meeting.

Babic: Fun! My mentor seemed like a very direct and honest person that had a practical approach to things. He had an appreciation for academics, but results were the things that mattered to him. I liked that he never started a sentence by saying “working for McKinsey, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs you will be a part of blab la bla.” His thoughts were short, concise and focused on what I need to bring to those companies and what I would get from them. After the first meeting, he seemed like the person that could help me in my situation.

How would you describe your mentoring relationship?

Sterba: Very friendly, open and honest. And I think we also managed to shift the scope of our program far beyond career matters. At each meeting we also enthusiastically debated over numerous affairs from business, politics, international relations, society etc.

Babic: Our relationship could be described as a friendship. We had no problem discussing things that were not related to my future career and next steps in life. 

What was the best moment for you during the mentoring?

Sterba: In the early stages, the range of Sven’s career options we considered was quite broad and we did not seem to be moving into any more specific direction for quite a while. The best moment came shortly before the official end of the program when Sven eventually decided his next move and signed his internship at IAEA.

Babic: To be honest, the best part was when I was able to write to my mentor that I received an offer for my internship in the IAEA. I worked a lot towards that internship, and it was nice to be able to report that my efforts had been successful.

What do you like most about your mentor/mentee?

Sterba: I really appreciated his deliberation, diligence and very structured working style.

Babic: The attitude towards life. He abandoned the prospects of decently paid comfortable jobs at companies such as Erste Bank and decided to work as an independent consultant. Some would call it an irrational decision. My belief is that his attitude is the key thing that will make him succeed.

What did you gain from being a mentor/mentee?

Sterba: Webster’s mentoring program was my first experience of that kind. Most notably, I gained a new friendship. From the professional perspective, I learned that moving targets as I had known them from previous projects in my own business domain could get even more moving when being a mentor. Since ideas, preferences and expectations of my mentee often changed from one meeting to the other, I had to become much more flexible and innovative to bring a value added and keep us on track.

Babic: I gained a lot of tangible things. The most valuable were the things related to the projects I was undertaking at the time. It might have seemed trivial to Michal, but telling me to control the requirements of my project by making a client sign an agreement that he understands that changes will increase the price was invaluable. In the end it made the difference between success and failure. On a more long term note, I gained a new friend. Now that the question of my next step after graduation is finished, we will finally be able to meet without the expectation that I am to be mentored. It will be a meeting with a person with whom I will share a lot interesting discussions.