Alumni interview with Neil Jordaan: “Commitment and contacts really get you ahead”

All News, Inside CBS   -  26. November 2018

His passion for digital challenges drives him in his work: Neil Jordaan gained several years of professional experience in online marketing in his home country South Africa before he decided to study for an MBA at Cologne Business School. After successfully completing his studies with his master’s thesis on the “digitalisation of the service sector”, he joined the company directly as Project Manager at Bayer. In our interview, we talked to him about his studies and career plans.

CBS: Why did you apply for the Master of Business Administration course at our campus?

Neil Jordaan: I’ve been working since I was 13 years old and have always given my best in everything I’ve done. I always tried to read and learn more about subjects of interest to further my career, but I felt I was missing the groundwork of big business and the management thereof. Yes, one can gain this experience by working in the industry, but with my degrees in public management, getting into big business was not so easy. I had to either start at the very bottom or do an MBA to fast track this aforementioned lack of experience.

Let me say one thing straight away: The MBA programmewas no walk in the park, but nothing worthwhile comes easy. It was very long hours of very hard work, getting involved in every initiative I could, and relentless networking that made the difference in the end and can sit back now and say “It was worth it”.

CBS: What did you like best about studying at CBS?

Neil Jordaan: Clearly, the practical relevance. Many professors shared their industry experience with us in class and were able to illustrate dry theory with practical examples. I also liked the international atmosphere on campus.

CBS: How did your CBS studies prepare you for your current position?

Neil Jordaan: The internationality of the Cologne Business School prepared me well for working in a dynamic and international environment. Thanks to my commitment to student initiatives, I was also able to get used to hard work and the challenges of teamwork. These experiences have helped me to expand my network and soft skills. Both are indispensable for advancing in a large corporation.

CBS: Is advancement one of your most important career plans for the next few years?

Neil Jordaan: Yes, of course. I’d like to climb the corporate ladder even higher.

CBS: What would you like to give our students?

Neil Jordaan: Just by doing a degree at the CBS does not guarantee you a position in the working world. You need to put in the extra hours, do different internships, work part time during your studies if you can, and get involved in every networking event you possibly can. Also, gain the insights from your professors. They are easy and direct contacts into the professional world you seek to enter. It’s true what they say “It’s not what you know, but who you know”.

CBS: Thank you very much for the interview!

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