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Kaori Woodbine enjoyed learning German at school, and when the 24-year-old remuneration consultant from London was looking to enrol for an MBA, Mannheim Business School seemed a promising option for someone with her international outlook. So far, the experience is living up to her expectations.

“We’ve been doing a lot of group work, which is challenging and interesting,” she says. “I learn a lot about dealing with professionals from different countries.”

She is a good fit for the school, where intercultural communication and group learning are core features. The University of Mannheim’s economics department is one of the country’s best, and the business school – founded five years ago – benefits from this prestige. “It facilitates our contacts with German companies and it also means that academic research is one of our strong points,” says Jens Wüstemann, the school’s new president.

Mannheim set up its first MBA in 2002 and it was an important cornerstone for the creation of the school, which has rapidly grown and found its way into international rankings. About 400 students are enrolled in three programmes: a full-time MBA, an executive MBA in co-operation with Essec near Paris, and an executive masters in accounting and taxation.

The school has a particular focus on entrepreneurship and has set up a network of 13 partner schools such as the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid and the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.

Full-time MBA students can opt for some time at partner schools. When Canadian Livio Kuschnirenko, 30, studied in Mannheim in 2008/09, he spent three months at Queen’s School of Business in Kingston, Canada. Today, he works for Santander in Madrid.

“I benefited from my year in Mannheim both in terms of income and career opportunities,” he says. But he adds that the career services “weren’t as helpful as I had hoped”. (The school has since expanded and updated this part of the programme.)

Mannheim is the only German school acknowledged by all three international accreditation systems, but for many foreign students its German business connections are more important. About half of the country’s top 500 companies are within 150 miles and the school works with many corporations. Some students aim for jobs in banking, but, says Prof Wüstemann, “Germany is strong in industry, and we want to qualify our students for those companies. These jobs might not offer the same remuneration as investment banking, but they are still very well paid and German businesses have proven to be relatively stable in the current crisis.”

To build international recognition, the school has started a partnership with Tongji University, Shanghai, and next year will launch an executive MBA for young professionals who aim to work for companies engaged in both markets. “Companies explained to us that there’s a need for such a qualification – and we want to meet their demands,” says Prof Wüstemann.

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