Engineer Becoming a Manager

Andreas Abt is head of development at the electrical engineering group TRUMPF Hüttinger. The part-time MBA program gave his career a decisive boost.

The modern TRUMPF Hüttinger headquarter is located on the outskirts of Freiburg im Breisgau, between the Black Forest and the Oberrheingraben. Since 1990, the subsidiary has belonged to the globally active TRUMPF family business, which can look back on a 95-year history and originally started as a mechanical workshop. Today, the TRUMPF Group, with almost 12,000 employees, is the market and technology leader in machine tools and lasers for industrial production and most recently generated more than 3.6 billion euros.
At TRUMPF Hüttinger, Andreas Abt has been responsible for product development in the plasma, induction, inverter for battery systems and CO2 laser excitation divisions for three years. Electronics and product development have always been his specialties. The qualified steel fitter studied at the Technical University of Dresden in the GDR after completing his apprenticeship with a high school diploma and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering.

The management component makes the difference

After completing his studies, Abt first started in product development in the telecom sector before moving to the semiconductor industry: “Over time, as a project manager and department head, I took on more and more responsibility, especially in the development sector, but also specifically only in the development sector. What has always been missing and what you can’t acquire without further training are strategy, organizational development and finance.”
Abt’s impression that his previous career as a developer and engineer has natural limits somewhere, if you want to go even higher at a certain level, was also confirmed to him from the outside:

“In discussions with headhunters, I was certified a super track record in terms of the number, internationality and range of project implementations. But I was repeatedly told what was missing for higher management positions was the strategic, organizational-structuring component in my job. This was interpreted as a shortcoming in my CV.”

During a management training course, Abt finally felt like doing more: “This was a kind of very small version of an MBA on accounting, corporate strategy and change management. That made me want to delve deeper into the whole subject. During my search, I came across HHL and the Part-time MBA program.”

It didn’t take much convincing for HHL anymore: “The interview with professor Richard Mancke simply thrilled me, he was extremely likeable. I had also talked to a few students in advance, which confirmed me in my project. They told me exactly what I wanted to learn: to understand economic relationships better and be able to apply them in my job.”
The fact that Abt was living in Dresden at the time made it easier for him to decide in favour of HHL, not least because of its geographical proximity. In 2004 he finally started his studies, in 2006 the alumnus finished his studies. Fun Fact: Abt is the only part-time MBA class P1.5 student because he entered the first year (P1) after one year and graduated with the second year (P2).

After the part-time MBA into the consulting world

After completing his part-time MBA studies in 2006, Abt went into the consulting world: “I now had a good mixture of experience in product development and the MBA and quickly found a job at PRTM Management Consultants. I was able to work as a consultant for a number of different companies for seven years.”
Over a period of seven years, Abt advised a wide variety of companies, most recently as a Senior Expert at McKinsey after a stopover at PWC: “I implemented many strategic and operational projects there. The knowledge I gained from my MBA helped me a lot and gave me a wealth of experience that is incredibly helpful in my profession today: to recognize business relationships in the various functions of a company, to be able to read controlling reports, to understand production processes, to plan and implement purchasing and supply chain projects. The MBA was an entrance ticket to building up a very broad wealth of experience that runs through all company processes, and I benefit greatly from this in my role today.” Finally, in 2015, an offer came from TRUMPF Hüttinger that Abt “simply couldn’t refuse.” Originally, he had moved from industry to gain more experience outside of product development in general management, and finally to join the top management level of an industrial company.

Beautiful memories of the time in Leipzig

When he thinks back to his time at HHL, Abt likes to reminisce: “For me, the basic economics lectures were the most eye-opening. I even kept all the books and documents and, of course, the newspaper clipping with the graduation ad and a lot of souvenir photos.” Abt therefore maintains regular contact not only with Petra Spanka, responsible for the part-time MBA program, but also with some former fellow students from the first two Part-time MBA years. If you ask the HHL alumnus about his favourite professor, the choice is clear: “The professors were all great, but if I had to pick one out, it was academic director Mancke, that was where I took the most personally and professionally.” In 2012, he even consulted the former professor again to talk to him about his professional development.
As a result, Andreas Abt notes:

“The MBA has opened up so many new perspectives for me. During my time at McKinsey, for example, I taught economic education in schools in the Frankfurt area for the My Finance Coach Foundation. I think knowledge belongs in every classroom. Without the MBA, I would never have come to this realization and these possibilities.”


The Part-time MBA Program of HHL

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