What does personal satisfaction have to do with the long-term success of a company? This and other questions were addressed by international alumni of Nuertingen-Geislingen University (NGU) at a recent alumni conference.
“Sustainability” is often associated with things like environmental protection, water conservation or agriculture, but the term can be applied to other areas as well. At the first international alumni conference of the DAAD-funded MBA programme “International Management”, some 100 participants came together to discuss how everyday work can – and should – be made more sustainable as well. “Sustainability is one of Nuertingen-Geislingen University’s core principles, so it’s no accident that the conference focused on this,” says Jutta Schnell, MBA programme coordinator and organiser of the conference. Another main aspect of the event was to promote dialogue and exchange between alumni, and there was ample opportunity for this during the podium discussion on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and in various workshops.
The “Happiness drives success” seminar drew one of the largest crowds. As studies have shown, employees treated with respect and appreciation have higher job satisfaction and perform better. One prerequisite for job satisfaction is having clear goals, which is why seminar leader Marialejandra Rodríguez had her participants map out their objectives and priorities. Only employees who know why they do what they do can give 100% on the job.
The seminar “Working in an international team” also focused on a goal-oriented approach to work. According to workshop leader Manar Genedy, participants largely agreed that an international team gets better results than a purely “domestic” team. Alumni also learned that team members have to communicate openly in order to benefit from the various approaches of different cultures. “This is the key to creating a positive working environment that promotes sustainability, i.e. productivity and success over the long term,” says Genedy.
Responding to a changing labour market
Sustainability should apply not only to companies, but also to career opportunities for workers. Many participants in the “Specialist vs. generalist in the career path” course assumed that highly-specialized workers are more likely to land a good job than generalists. But seminar leader Akem Forkusam pointed out that many employers, in fact, prefer to have versatile employees who can be used in a number of different ways. In the end, course participants agreed that having a healthy combination of both is optimal – specialist knowledge combined with a broad perspective and the ability to learn fast in new areas. The “Lessons from the start-up scene” seminar focused on how the labour market really works and what forces help shape it, including creative minds from the international start-up scene. Seminar leader Marcelo Ivan Martin pointed out that fresh ideas are often attractive for established companies. “Many of these new ideas will likely have a big impact on the future world of work,” he says.
The MBA programme in Nürtingen-Geislingen also makes sure to stay atop developments in the area of work-life balance, internationalisation, specialisation and innovation. “We want our students to be able to apply their expert knowledge on the job and, at the same time, to be comfortable in their working environment,” says MBA programme coordinator Jutta Schnell. “This is reflected in NGU’s more holistic approach to teaching and learning.”