Not an entrepreneurship MBA, but an MBA that can prepare you for entrepreneurship | University of St.Gallen MBA

Not an entrepreneurship MBA, but an MBA that can prepare you for entrepreneurship

3 Oct 2023

People listening to a presentation at HSG

Supporting entrepreneurship is part of the vision of the University of St.Gallen

“As a leading business university we set global standards for research and teaching by promoting integrative thought, responsible action and an entrepreneurial spirit of innovation in business and society."

Here is an overview of how we have woven entrepreneurship into the MBA program.

6 months designed for you, including Core Courses and Startup Week

MBA programs are inherently general management in nature, making them suited to entrepreneurs by virtue of the breadth of content covered. In our Part-time MBA, the Core Courses are clustered into three blocks: Lead Strategically, Build Financial Acumen, and Develop New Businesses. In that third block, the Core Courses include Growth Strategies, Customer Centricity, and Financial Performance Management.

In our Full-time MBA, our Core Courses focus on 5 general management competencies, titled: Purpose, People, Invest, Customer, and Innovate. Venture capitalists are often more concerned with the purpose and leadership team than the idea itself being pitched, knowing that products and markets evolve, and therefore wanting to invest in the ‘right’ people. Likewise, understanding accounting, corporate finance, and customer acquisition are critical to launching a business. The Innovate course is particularly relevant for entrepreneurs. It is taught by Dr. René Bohnsack, an expert practitioner who has been involved in entrepreneurship as a founder, investor, and advisor. Dr. Bohnsack is also a scholar in the field of strategy and innovation, including a focus on business model innovation. 

Another feature of the MBA for both Full-time and Part-time participants is Startup Week. During the program, students learn to craft compelling narrative arcs and deliver them in public speaking settings. This is done through a variety of communication training coupled with delivering case solutions. Startup Week builds on this by having students develop and pitch an entrepreneurial idea to a panel comprised of Swiss venture funding and incubation professionals. It has recently been held at the Zurich Google offices, the company’s largest in continental Europe. 

6 months designed by you, including Electives and Projects

The final 6 months of both the Full-time and Part-time MBA is designed by you. There are opportunities to study one or more electives at another institution. This year we have added reciprocal study relationships in the United States (Northwestern Kellogg), Spain (IE), and Japan (NUCB), in addition to our existing portfolio of business schools that spans from Australia to Singapore to Italy to Canada. Whether it is an international elective or one of our own, you can look for courses that further support your entrepreneurial needs like "Business Plan Writing," "Leading… the CEO in You," or "Fintech: Trends and Use Cases."

During the Project Phase which lasts the final 3 months of the program, you are able to select a Business Plan as your project type. Many people have a kernel of a business idea in their minds, but never carve out more than an evening or weekend to further develop it. The Business Plan project is a rare instance in your adult life when you can dedicate a large chunk of structured time to evolving an entrepreneurial concept. All Business Plan projects have an academic advisor. They can also be done individually or in teams, in case you meet some co-founders during the MBA program. Not all who undertake a Business Plan project aim to launch a business upon graduation. Sometimes people just want to validate an idea for future use, aiming to launch the business a few years after graduation and further progression in a corporate career.

The HSG Ecosystem

Of course, there are examples of people who have started a business. Pitchbook publishes an annual list of MBA programs ranked by venture funding secured by alumni in the past 10 years. In the 2023 list for European institutions, the University of St. Gallen was ranked 17th. Specific examples include Vincent Irrling with Kapsly and Lucas Wohlleber from our most recent graduating class who launched his company Glasshome right after graduation in August 2023.

When you are an MBA student at the University of St. Gallen, you have access to a broad ecosystem of resources that are not specific to the program but available to all students. This includes Startup@HSG, spending time at the SQUARE, and student clubs which are entrepreneurial in focus, such as the Family Business ClubSTART Global, and Swiss Sequoia Club. In short, your entrepreneurial ambitions can be supported by both MBA program-specific and university-wide mechanisms. In the true spirit of entrepreneurship, it is really up to you to tailor your own MBA experience and make the most of what’s available.