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Waltzing beneath the chandeliers of the Hofburg palace in Vienna. Analysing Europe’s asset management market for a consultancy in Milan. Organising a student conference in Copenhagen. Mingling with recruiters from multinationals in Budapest. Doing an internship in Kuala Lumpur. There might appear to be no connection, but one exists: these were some of my experiences as a Cems student.

Cems is a global alliance of leading business schools, multinationals and non-governmental organisations that offers a master's degree in international management. The programme includes an exchange, an international internship, a business project with corporations and courses with international elements, but Cems is more than that.

The international exposure and the exploration of other cultures intrigued me when I first heard of Cems during my bachelor studies at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in Denmark. I had previously encountered international environments through my high school diploma, the international baccalaureate. Back then, my appetite for exploring other cultures had already led me to leave the traditional path for a more international one. Being Danish and brought up in Denmark, I was the odd one out in my class, but I thrived in an environment of mixed nationalities. I found that being in an international environment encouraged me to view things from different perspectives and question my perceptions. It also taught me awareness of different cultures.

Nonetheless, I chose CBS for my bachelor’s degree. CBS offers free tuition, has many international students and exchange programmes and high-quality teaching. The fact that it was part of the Cems alliance provided welcome opportunities for exposure to the international environment I had cherished at school.

From the time I was accepted by Cems until I graduated, I more or less lived out of a suitcase. It often felt like I was taking a degree in time management with the goal of squeezing as many activities, trips and seminars as possible into the calendar, rather than a business degree. I had six addresses in four countries within two years, as well as countless stay-overs at friends’ homes and in hotels. By graduation I had attended courses in Copenhagen, Milan and Dublin and worked in Germany, Denmark and Malaysia.

Cems offers a bridge to the corporate world via business projects, careers fairs and highly involved business partners. Workshops held by companies helped me see the world from a corporate perspective and learn skills not typically found on a university curriculum, such as interviewing and business communications. These have proved invaluable in my professional life.

Personally, I made friends for life and built an incredible network. I have been part of a community in which students work hard, but are also very sociable. I spent many days working intensely in teams on topics such as valuation models and globalisation strategies, followed by an entire night of dining and socialising. My classmates were driven, inspiring people, with a love of getting the most out of life – but each has a very different profile, background and goals, giving the community a unique atmosphere.

Finally, the supranational character of the alliance creates an internationally recognised degree. It has given my educational profile a solid international foundation with a “glocal” touch – a balance of globally acknowledged degrees and local Danish diplomas.

Looking back on my time as a business student, it has been hectic, challenging, even frustrating, but also rewarding, educational and inspiring. Fortunately, Cems is a lifetime “club”. I know that no matter where my work or travels take me, I will be able to draw on the network, skills and friends I have gained.

Around the world

Therese Espenhain is a strategist at Dong Energy, a north European energy group. Brought up in Denmark, she has an MSc in economics and business administration from Copenhagen Business School and a Cems masters in international management from CBS and Bocconi university in Milan.

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