Our Executive MPA, in the words of alumni

What is it like to study an Executive master's degree at the Hertie School?

We recently asked five Executive MPA alumni about their experience at the Hertie School, both in and outside of the classroom. Read on to learn about some of their programme highlights, time in Berlin, and advice for future students.

1. Please share one of your favourite memories or highlights from your time as a student in the Executive MPA.

João Vitor Fonseca, Executive MPA 2021: One of my favourite memories from my time in the Executive MPA programme was the opportunity to engage in lively discussions with classmates and renowned professors. The programme brought together professionals from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, fostering a rich learning environment. The class discussions were intellectually stimulating and provided valuable insights from various perspectives. These interactions not only enhanced my understanding of public administration and policy challenges but also enabled me to develop friendships and professional networks.

Diego Ricse, Executive MPA 2021: As a non EU-citizen, I was mind blown with the Brussels workshop. Visiting the most relevant institutions of the European Union and talking to top-level professionals working there was a once in a lifetime experience. During the workshop we not only talked about the inner dynamics of the different organisations in Brussels, but also learnt how these dynamics are executed in real life to address current relevant topics. As an example, during the 2022 workshop we discussed about the Russia invasion of Ukraine, Brexit, and the political and economical expansion of China. I dare to say that only the workshop already justifies the existence of the Executive MPA programme.

Laura Giraldo Hincapie, Executive MPA 2021: One of my best experiences as an Executive MPA student was the opportunity to participate in the Brussels Workshop. It was incredible to be able to visit so many places in the European Union and the development generated by each of the organisations that are part of it. Additionally, sharing experiences with officials from the different delegations and my fellow programme members who nurtured me with their knowledge. Not only was the workshop great, but also all my experience at Hertie was incredible to share with the wonderful staff, always looking to give you the best for your experience within the university. The professors not only taught me the technical skills, they taught me the true value of transparency and understanding, this marked me forever.

Daniel Flohr, EMPA 2020: Before Hertie I despised group work. That changed during the Executive MPA. In the end I was looking forward for these sessions [because that is where] I learned the most. Everyone was willing to learn, try and apply things we just learned or were about to learn. Those were also the moments where you could experience what an international and diverse group really means: Different views leading to brilliant results. And of course all the meals and drinks we shared, exchanged our stories and got know each other. That’s a once in a (working-) lifetime.

2. How did being in Berlin shape your experience?

Diego: Berlin is more of a cosmopolitan city than a German city. You will be able to interact with people from all over the world at Hertie, but also on public transport, in restaurants and at parties. For me, living in Berlin meant the opportunity to learn about different cultures and listen to the life story of a large number of people. Of course anyone who lives in Berlin has a story, and that is simply fantastic. In addition, if you want to see how civilisation progress and evolves over time, I think that Berlin is one of the few cities in the world where you can actually see the passage of time through art, architecture, history and culture. I have been living in Berlin for more than a year now, but I feel that I still have a lot to learn about the city.

Laura: Being in Berlin is like being at home. Berlin with its multiple cultures received me with all the hospitality that a city can receive someone from outside. I love Germany in general, but in Berlin I feel extremely welcome, everything was wonderful.

Thies Hauck, Executive MPA 2019: You might think that being in Berlin isn't anything special for Germans. One the one hand, that's true, on the other, it is still fascinating to realise that Berlin always offers the unique opportunity to catch up with friends from all over the country who all now and then come by to do business, take a meeting or just enjoy the city's lifestyle, especially in Summer.

3. What advice do you have for future Executive MPA students, so that they can make the most of their time in the programme?

João: Embrace diversity: The Executive MPA program attracts a diverse cohort of professionals from various fields and cultures. Take advantage of this diversity by actively engaging with your classmates, listening to their experiences, and learning from their perspectives. This will broaden your understanding of public administration and policy challenges.

Diego: At the programme you will meet professors and students with a wide experience in their respective professional fields. I truly believe that networking is one of the most unvaluable assets of the program and that is why I encourage you to organise a dinner in the last day of classes for each course. It is the best option for you to talk to everyone and even discuss about opinions and impressions of the course.

Laura: I recommend them to prepare the topics for each class in advance so that you can take advantage of learning, the sessions are intense and time goes by very quickly. Additionally, I invite them to make an appropriate selection of the emphasis because several of the subjects are of emphasis and are quite specific to the focus that one chooses. I can only tell that it is a privilege to study at Hertie! 

Daniel: Especially for those who work while studying: Take your time to learn, network and read. Talk to the professors and guest speakers concerning any idea or thought you have. You won’t get a second chance to make the most out of it, so to prioritise work, family, hobbies and Hertie is not a piece of cake- but definitely worth it.

Thies: Make up your mind about your master thesis right away at the start of the programme so you can truly use it as an opportunity - for example to interview people you've always wanted to talk to.

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