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Rubrik: Campus Life

MTEC-Kurs in Management und Ökonomie
Auf Tuchfühlung mit der Elite

Published: 22.03.2007 06:00
Modified: 21.03.2007 22:36
The first of a planned series of weeklong MTEC Lectures took place the week of 12 March with UBS Chairman of the Board, Marcel Ospel, as guest lecturer. A trip to London was one, the Lecture Series one week in all. At the end of the series, students received a diploma signed by Mr. Ospel and Professor Lucas Bretschger, head of ETH MTEC, Management Technology and Economics.

Interview: Renata Cosby

ETH life: Professor Bretschger, what was the genesis of MTEC’s Lecture Series programme?

Lucas Bretschger: It actually came about through informal contact. Our rector, Konrad Osterwalder, approached Marcel Ospel on several different issues, and through that contact we learned that the UBS Chairman of the Board would indeed be interested in giving the sort of course we had in mind.

The idea was to strengthen knowledge transfer between the MTEC units of Technology and Economics Dynamics, Value Chain, Human and Entrepreneurial Behaviour, Systems Design and Risks and Natural Resources. We also wanted to continue to develop the financial sector, and have more service sector activities included.

We give students a strict education in thinking, with methods, theory and systems design. We also bridge the gap that is so often present between students and practical work experience.

Will one guest speaker be featured per course?

Yes. In each course we will have one partner from industry usually represented by the CEO or the Chairman of the Board, who will be the main speaker. In addition, for this Lecture Series, we had two other guest speakers. One was Hans Geiger, from the University of Zurich, who really is an expert in banking. He addressed the issues of banking secrecy and anti-money laundering. Then, another colleague, Roman Boutellier, spoke to students on corporate governance and risk management. The rest of the course was covered by internal presentations and group work on selected topics.

The day with Mr. Ospel?

Mr. Ospel first explained basic insights from banking and the strategies of UBS. After short student presentations, it was mainly a dialogue between them and the Chairman of the Board. The discussion was very lively, open, and constructive. The students conducted themselves in a very professional manner. The final evaluation of the course revealed that students highly appreciated the direct contact to one of the world’s leading bankers. Mr. Ospel said that he was impressed by the students’ performance.

How does the Lecture Series fit into MTEC’s Master of Science diploma?

This is yet another tool our students will have that will put them ahead of the competition on the job market. MTEC offers two main Masters programmes; the Masters of Science and the Masters of Advanced Studies. For the Advanced Studies diploma, students are required to have some work experience. The Masters of Science on the other hand is 120 credits, twice that of the Advanced Studies diploma. Typically here students go right into the programme after receiving their bachelors degree in engineering or natural sciences.MTEC provides them with an overlay of additional skills in management and economics.

MTEC Students visit the trading floor of UBS in London. (Photo: D-MTEC)

Professor Lucas Bretschger was able to invite UBS chairman of the board Marcel Ospel as guest speaker for an MTEC Lecture Series (Photo: P. Rüegg)

Twenty-one students took part in this first of MTEC’s Lecture Series. How were they chosen?

They were handpicked, the best of the class. About one third of the class was women, who certainly made their presence felt. They did not shy away from discussion, putting their opinions forward. The good part about our student body in MTEC is that it is becoming more and more international. Almost half now come from abroad. MTEC has one of the highest shares of foreign students at the university.

What are the requirements to successfully complete a Lecture Series course?

As explained, we want to offer a special format for our best and most ambitious students. Accordingly, there is a special assessment for the course. Students have to carry out several presentations in which they explain the results of their group work.

Where will these students go after graduation?

We see them in the higher echelons of management in private industry or public administration. The combination of a technical engineering or natural sciences background with skills in management and economics will be highly important in the labour market. We aim to help our students assume leading positions sooner rather than later.

MTEC intentionally does not cover the complete palette of subjects in economics or in management theory. What we do is cover those subjects that are in alignment with the strengths of ETH Zurich, one of the leading technical universities in the world. n.

What will be the impact of ETH Zurich students on industry in Switzerland?

There will be wide impact. We have had strong focus on the manufacturing industry in the past. We now want to signal to the labour market that MTEC also has elite skills to offer people wanting to enter the service industry, such as banking or insurance. We will expand our activities in the field of finance through the external funding from the banking industry that is allowing more chairs in finance.

In fact, when you look at the careers of several top managers in Switzerland, many of them were educated at ETH Zurich.

Exposing students to the reality of the working world was certainly a goal of the Lecture Series. But certainly too was the intent to apply and adapt management processes and learning of the economic environment to the students’ own background of studies. For example, a natural scientist, by virtue of his training, can easily say what is right or wrong. But in management, it is not always about what is right or wrong. Rather, it is about what is feasible and not feasible.

Engineers, conversely, with their mathematical background, are most often able to solve practical problems. They normally know that not everything is feasible, and tend to think more of ‘what can I do and how can I do it’? In both instances, management processes and economic know-how will bolster what is already there.

What are your thoughts on this first MTEC 2008 class of graduates?

It is a mixed crowd, but they are all good students – what you would expect from ETH Zurich. They think about job opportunities. If they are at ETH Zurich anyway, they are giving careful attention to where they want to go.

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