Robin Ren - Head of Strategy and Business Development at GEA

“The EMBA keeps you fresh”

Robin Ren is the Head of Strategy and Business Development at GEA, one of the world’s largest suppliers of systems and components to the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. He recently graduated from the Executive MBA at Copenhagen Business School and by way of his Integrated Strategy project he was elevated to a Senior Strategy position.

Robin presented to EMBA curious professionals at a CBS Executive MBA informational meeting on why he chose CBS, the learning journey, and the application of the education to his profession.

“When we were onboarded, they asked us what we wanted to learn through the programme. This really depended on the purpose and objective that the individual came with. I have a life science background with a PhD in Neuropharmacology but I grew tired of academic work, so I switched to business management. During my eight years in business, I realised that I needed systematic knowledge about modern business management to rise into a leadership position.”

Closing the knowledge gap

Naturally, many business professionals have isolated business knowledge to their relevant role and department. An Executive MBA closes the knowledge gap by giving a broad overview of business and management topics.

“This EMBA journey provides me a broad view of modern business management skills that I could use in my daily work. It gives me confidence to take over more responsibilities at my work and allows me to engage in a deeper discussion on strategy with senior management. I am now working as Head of strategy and business development to support the management board with implementation of strategic initiatives and business excellence projects.”

As a requirement of the programme, EMBA participants apply the learnings from the classroom directly to their work. Robin chose the CBS Executive MBA programme because he understood the benefit of theory coupled with practice.

“The programme gives you manual learning in real time. If you are ambitious, you can even become a master of a certain topic which is what I did.”

A learning journey that “keeps you fresh”

The Executive MBA offers two intake periods (September and May), and the commitment is on average four days a month. There are two EMBA paths offered simultaneously – participants choose to earn their EMBA either in one go over a fixed period of either 21 or 25 months (depending on the start date) or through the stepwise approach via the Certificates. Additionally, the programme is personalised to fit each professional’s unique profile and participants choose between concentrations which provides an extensive analysis of each respective topic.

“The Executive MBA keeps you fresh. You learn about important topics not only in each core course but through your selected Concentration. For example, in studying corporate social responsibility we learned about the highly relevant EU taxonomy and its implications for businesses.”

The CBS EMBA offers for Concentrations which are Entrepreneurship, Finance, Sustainability and Governance, and Digitalisation. Ren chose the Entrepreneurship Concentration. Alongside his fellow colleagues, he visited various Danish startups and acted as a free consultant – utilising the knowledge from the course and presenting an analysis to the startups.

“It was highly insightful because we would acknowledge the gaps and problems so that they could find solutions. It gave us access to fresh perspectives from the startups. Many of us in programme came from big corporations so we got to see similar tensions and dilemmas but on a micro level. We learned a lot like how to establish cooperation, how to launch a product, and how to run a startup successfully. Not only was it a unique and highly useful experience but it gave us the confidence to make changes within our own organisations.”

For many business professionals, when the board presents a financial target, it can be difficult to translate into the real operations of the business.

“With the finance course we were able to combine our daily operation and personal experience and then translate this to our teams. It is very powerful to learn in this practical way. Once I began taking the finance course it felt like a whole new world was opening up to me.”

Robin emphasized that now he has an easier time understanding business projections and reports from leading global business publications like the Financial Times which he references on a regular basis to stay current.

From thesis project to senior strategy

“The people sitting around you in the EMBA classroom are a nominal treasure. I was very close with my classmates from Novo Nordisk, Mærsk, and KPMG, they helped me with my master thesis. I mastered reporting KPI’s and how to bring a strong dialogue to the negotiating table with internal stakeholders.”

Robin added that after a two-year learning journey and a steep learning curve you develop a reliable network that makes it possible for major career changes like jumping industries, launching a start-up, or jumping ranks within your own company.

“Early on in the EMBA journey we learned about leadership self-reflection. I interviewed the senior management board and asked them questions like how do they manage company, culture, how they create an environment where everyone can thrive. By running this analysis and simply asking the right questions, I was then put on the management team to lead the strategic project. I learned that some of the questions I asked were very challenging for key decision makers and triggers them to reflect.”

Robin started at GEA as the Global Product Manager and now he is the Head of Strategy and Business Development where he supports the management board with the development and implementation of strategic initiatives and business excellence projects.

“With your final thesis, you are working with your own company and it’s interesting because you learn how to make strategic recommendations.”

Robin said that he appreciates his company in being supportive of his CBS Executive MBA journey.

“It was a tough journey, and it starts from day one. I had to balance the learning objectives with my business and workload, my partner, my free time, and my friends. It doesn’t matter where your starting point is in the EMBA programme, but rather how you utilise the learnings and what you visualize for yourself in the long run. It is a journey you will never regret.”

If you would like to learn more about CBS Executive MBA >> you can download the brochure here, request a virtual or coffee meeting with Lone Ryevad Boysen here, or visit the webpage here.