2018 Best EMBAs: Markus Schueller, IMD

Markus Schueller


It is more important to do the right thing than doing things right.”

Age: 44

Hometown: Singapore

Family Members: Stephanie (wife), Isabella & Emilia (daughters), Max (cat)

Fun fact about yourself: I used to work as a DJ during my Apprenticeship and Army time to earn some much-needed extra money….but I “invested” all the money straight back into buying more records…

Undergraduate School and Degree: Certificate of Vocational Training (August 1990 to July 1993)

Where are you currently working? Hilton Worldwide, Vice President – Food and Beverage Operations Asia Pacific

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

Founding member of the CR Committee, with activities including

  • Organising of fund raising activities
  • Leading local projects to give back to the community
  • Plan events to be held during Global Week of Service
  • Leader of the annual Cambodia housebuilding trip
  • Plan, organise and execute annual housebuilding trip for 30 pax from the Singapore corporate office

Building of 2 houses as well as time spent with children in the local orphanage

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? With all the commitment required to study for the EMBA programme, whilst continuing to fulfil my professional duties as well as family ones, I am proud to agaiin organizing the annual Cambodia housebuilding trip in November 2017.

Being able to build and donate two houses to families that have never(!) lived in a house before gives me a deep sense of fulfilment personally. Those trips to Cambodia also allow me to illustrate to my daughters how important it is to give back to the community and to put one’s own grievances very much into perspective.

Looking back, I am actually just very grateful for being in the fortunate position to be able to give back and make a difference.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Following the triple disaster that struck Japan in March 2011, I volunteered to be part of a task force and be on the ground with our regional team & hotels.

The first priority was the health and safety of our guests and team members and to ensure business continuity. As part of the task force, I took the lead on all matters related to Food and Beverage and worked closely with the local team members.

Especially during those early days, when the situation was still very fluid and uncertain, it was very important to show to our team members that our actions spoke louder than our words.

Looking back, I am proud having supported the team members in Japan, playing an important part in this, which helped me, in turn, to become a better leader.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I will have to cite two professors here, namely

  • Professor Stefan Michel, for not only making his classes so engaging, but for instilling in me again that real sense of learning, which became a guiding principle for me over the last 18 months. He also encouraged me to have a voice in such a large group, which, looking back, was invaluable!
  • Professor Goutam Challagalla for making his classes always so engaging, high energy, rich in content & learning and not least of all, fun!

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? The Strategy stream was by far my favourite course, as it had (and still has) real life applicability in my role and I know it will also help me in my future career growth. The famous saying “What the hell is going on here?” is burned into my memory and I can catch myself now using it in my professional life as well!

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I attended a programme at IMD in 2007 and was impressed by the content, delivery and faculty back then, so when I had to decide which schools to apply for, the choice was clear. Also, IMD’s focus to ensure all learnings also have real life applicability, made the choice the right one.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? It was the fact that I was able to learn so much by interacting with my fellow classmates. Such an incredibly diverse group of people that provided me with so many new viewpoints and learnings….I will be forever grateful to all my classmates for this!

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Being able to motivate team members and to make them share in a common vision not because they have to, but because they want to.

Making people believe in you or your idea without formal authority is very rewarding and also helps to achieve a better results as more voices and viewpoints were considered. Bringing this to life at work now is a new and very enriching experience.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Even though I went into the EMBA programme knowing full well the requirements and sacrifices that were needed, the reality, however, did hit me a little harder than expected.

The realisation came very early on, that I had to find my own way on how to ensure that work, family and education got their fair share of voice. For me personally, it meant many (very) early starts in the office to allow me to study before the actual workday began and on the weekends, to be home latest by lunchtime to spend quality time with the family.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? The best advice I can give is to ensure that all key stakeholders at work and at home are briefed upfront and to ensure all parties keep in perspective that the EMBA programme is only 18 months out of a lifetime.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The fear of perhaps not being as knowledgeable as the rest of the class on some subjects and to be called out in front of the class, but then realising that everybody is in the same situation and the spirit of collaboration is by far greater than the one of competition.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My answer would need to be two-fold.

First, it would be not spending enough time with each of my classmates to get to know each one better and to perhaps learn something new.

Second, it would be not being able to shake off that nagging feeling of not having spent enough quality time with the family.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire?

Wilbert van de Ven, for deciding to go back to school, even though he has a PhD already. More important, it was for always being a voice of reason, level-headed, thoughtful and able to add to a class discussion or group discussion in a meaningful way!

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…ever since I attended a week-long IMD programme in 2007.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…very unhappy about not having had this incredibly rewarding experience!”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal would be to have an opportunity to lead an entire organisation from the front and to be able to shape its culture and strategy.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A person who gave back more than he received.

Favorite book: John Wood: Leaving Microsoft To Change the World

Favorite movie or television show: Sherlock (TV Series, BBC)

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • The first item on that list will be to have my parents see me graduate from IMD, as I come from very humble beginnings, so to share this very special moment with my parents in June will be an absolute highlight.
  • The second item on my list will be to take my two daughters to Cambodia to help to build a house there together for people that never lived in a house before, to teach them the value of giving back and to always strive to give back more than you received.

What made Markus such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Markus is highly motivated to learn and move out of his comfort zone. At the same time, his gentle nature encourages others to do the same. One teammate wrote in their peer feedback that “Markus is the one that I learnt the most from in my team. He is an amazing group mate to have”. He constantly strives to provide constructive criticism with the aim of improving everyone’s experience – including the EMBA management team. He has met with senior IMD personnel to share his ideas and experience with sustainability efforts at Hilton in an effort to reduce waste on campus. He has also provided valuable support to the EMBA logistics teams for hotel selection, standards and delivery expectations without being necessarily “Hilton-biased”.

Markus is an accomplished executive who is respected within his organization, his industry and also by his classmates. He is very much at ease in this highly diverse group of 58 professionals – with an average age of 40 years old. He embraces a strong set of values which are transmitted through his supportive, modest and professional manner. His passion for sustainability and creating a strong, healthy professional culture is evident beyond his words and into his actions – such as his engagement in Cambodia with his family as well as his colleagues. Markus embodies the qualities of a responsible leader striving for improvement and positive impact within his organization yet also within society at large.”

Terry Akitt

EMBA Director of Program Delivery


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