Working as a Consultant while Studying Part-Time
Interview with Tabea Adolph, part-time Master in Management student and KPMG Associate
This interview was first published in August 2020.
The HHL part-time Master in Management Program (M.Sc.) is designed to complement your professional experience and help you deepen your existing knowledge of business administration. The program is designed as an interdisciplinary educational experience to help you advance in your professional journey.
As a full-time professional, you will likely be interested in understanding how you can balance your professional career while studying for a management degree. We understand how much organization goes into preparing such an important life decision and want to share the real-life stories of our part-time students with you.
In today’s interview, we talked to Tabea Adolph, who works as an Associate in the restructuring department for KPMG. Parallel to starting her full-time job at KPMG, she enrolled into the part-time Master in Management program at the Leipzig campus. She talks about the importance of getting your employer on board, using the flexible system provided by HHL, and how to fit studying into a busy travel schedule.
We’ll start with your studies at HHL. What specifically made you decide on studying at HHL?
Towards the end of my bachelor studies, I was searching for business schools that offer part-time master programs. As I wanted to work full-time while studying, the program timetable and the balance between presence lectures and home assignments was one main decision criteria for studying at HHL.
Why was a part-time Master in Management the right choice for you personally?
I had already completed my Bachelor in Finance and Management as a part-time study program at the Frankfurt School and for me, the combination of practical experience on the job and the academic knowledge was a key factor to discovering my profession. I enjoyed being able to use my theoretical knowledge and interests and apply them directly on the job. Through this practical application, I could decide if it was just an interest or a real possible direction for a future job.
Additionally, my finance knowledge that I had acquired due to my jobs in the banking sector was already quite extensive.
I was therefore looking for a study program to deepen my general management knowledge through an academic Master of Science program and the Deep Dives at HHL offered further specialization opportunities.
Let’s take a look at your career. What does working as a consultant at KPMG require?
My job in the restructuring department requires a lot of flexibility. Projects mostly start directly after the offering due to the special situation of our clients and the need for further actions e.g. from the financing banks or shareholders.
The deadlines are therefore very tight and we are mostly working from the client site to ensure short information flows and to get a better view on the specific situation in the company. Each client situation and the reasons for it are different and there is no standard solution, which makes an individual approach necessary on every new project.
What learnings or course content do you already benefit from in your work at KPMG?
There are several topics that I can benefit from in my daily work. One example is an integrated case study we needed to prepare which included several topics like finance, value chain management, strategy and marketing. In my job, I am mostly dealing with finance topics so it was a really educational experience to also work on the other topics and to get to know some insights in those areas.
Is it possible to do a part-time Master in Management if your job requires you to travel a lot?
It really requires a lot of self-discipline to fulfill the study requirements when you are also traveling for your job. I generally try to use the time when I am alone in the hotel to work on the course preparations. Especially in the evening or in the morning, which allows me to use my time effectively. However, one positive aspect is that there are much less distractions compared to when you are trying to do work on your studies from home (like tidying up the flat or friends coming over etc.).
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How do you manage to fulfill study requirements and also work a full-time job? What should potential candidates ask themselves before applying for a part-time program?
Time management is crucial to combine studying part-time and working full-time. When the new subjects for the upcoming term are uploaded on the online campus I always check the syllabus of each subject for the required course preparations. I also make sure to check for the following assignments and the deadlines to get an overview when I need to hand in what kind of assignment.
Applicants should keep in mind that they need to use parts of their free time to prepare the assignments at home. Further, they should consider that you need to be really flexible because a large amount of the assignments is prepared in groups and the coordination process of an assignment can be really time-intensive and some of them can be held early in the morning or late in the evening due to the working hours of the other group members.
How were you able to bring your employer on board? What are some of the important points one should discuss with one’s employer before applying?
How does the exchange with fellow students or the HHL network support you on your professional journey?
One major support during the studies are the fellow students. The exchange on career topics is really helpful because you are all in a similar position in your career and life journey and you are able to learn from the experience of the others, e.g. if someone already applied or worked at a special company. You are able to seek advice from someone who is in a similar situation and can relate to your potential chances and risks.
Working full-time and studying part-time requires a good balance. Why do you think the combination of the two is still a worthwhile experience?
The combination of studying part-time and working full-time enables you to directly apply your gained knowledge, frameworks and methods from the courses in your daily job. You are also gaining insights into topics which may not be your focus topics in your job but which are related in other ways and so you end up with the ability to understand the whole company and the management approach in a different way.
This direct application of knowledge is especially a major benefit in leadership education. The learned theories and models from the lectures help me to understand how to manage people.
Moreover, being able to apply those skills in my daily job is even more helpful because I get to see the reaction of the person I am working with and also experience the differences between different types of people.
Even if you are just at the beginning of your career, you will be gaining more and more responsibility over time and you will be able to apply those leadership skills in small use cases, like organizing an internal project or being the key contact for the interns in your team.
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Hello there, I'm Ellen and international education and student mobility is my thing! I did my first language course in the UK at the age of 14 and I have been an exchange student in Denmark at university. I have lived in Malta and Ireland for 15 years to work with international students and support them on their individual and exciting journeys to improve their education. I joined the HHL community in 2021 as a program consultant for the full-time MBA program and I am very much looking forward to accompanying you on your next steps of this life-changing journey. Any questions about the full-time MBA program? Let's have a chat!