2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Linus Haferkemper, IESE Business School

Linus Haferkemper

IESE Business School, Munich Campus

Age: 36

“Customer-focused and strategic problem solver, combining business and IT knowledge…and a good human.”

Hometown: Zurich, Switzerland and Hamburg, German (where is home really?)

Family Members: Married.

Fun fact about yourself: I discovered sports during the EMBA (how did I even find the time?)

Undergraduate School and Degree: BA in Business, Management and Administration (a double-degree program, studying in parallel at the Euro-Business-College Bielefeld, Germany, and the University of Sunderland, UK.)

Where are you currently working? Sherpany, Zurich as Vice President, Customer Success

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: While doing the Executive MBA, I organized shopping for the elderly people in my area during the pandemic. In our EMBA, I consider myself as the culture carrier, someone who is responsible for representing our class well.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of an assignment I completed for the Strategic Leadership module/course. The assignment helped me understand how to leverage my network, not only for myself but also for the benefit of others. I also used it to give my fellow female students exposure to successful female leaders in my network.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my very recent career move to Zurich to join the scale up company, Sherpany. While still finishing the EMBA, I was able to start a senior role with a large remit and responsibility (VP, reporting into the CEO). I am proud of this also because I have been able to apply the learnings from the EMBA not only to the new role, but also to myself.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I find it challenging to pick just one and will therefore stretch the rules and pick two professors from the Entrepreneurship Department: Thomas Klueter and Christoph Zott. Why? They taught us about mindset – something which I now take as a one-word-summary for this executive MBA.

This entire program is all about mindset. How do I stretch myself, go out of my comfort zone, how do I achieve the impossible? How do I establish a feedback culture in the EMBA team that is future proof? It is all a question of mindset. Getting it done is also down to structure and discipline. But the number one ingredient is mindset.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose the IESE executive MBA program primarily because it is the leading school in Europe, as well as its focus on teaching by the case method, its alumni network, and the diversity of the class. I also appreciate that the entire course is in English.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Again, this takes me back to the question of mindset. This program taught me the importance of putting myself into the right mindset for every conversation, every meeting, and every interaction with my team.

I know that if I approach every difficult and challenging situation with the right mindset, I will be able to solve big challenges ahead.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? During the executive MBA, I wanted to give my father a once-in-a-lifetime experience: a wine tour through the Napa Valley combined with flying business class (two of his life goals). To make that happen, I returned from a tough business trip in New York to attend class in Munich. I then went to the airport that Saturday, met my beloved dad, and then took a work trip to San Francisco where I combined work over there with giving him a great experience. I was personally exhausted after those 2.5 weeks. But what stays in the memory are the great classes I had on “Analysis of Business Problems” at IESE (with Thomas Klueter, mentioned above) and a once-in-a-lifetime-experience with my father. I will never regret a second of sleep I lost during that trip.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? You need to learn how to learn. To some extent it is a challenge, but it is more about being able to organize yourself correctly…

What was your biggest regret in business school? I missed out on quite a few important family events.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Waldemar Faltenberg. I admire his selfless attitude towards everybody in this EMBA class and his incomparable discipline and commitment to the program and for his family.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? In-class learning is faster and more impactful. In addition, you have a greater ability to grow your network through the program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to inspire as many customer-facing colleagues as possible to purposefully bring value to their clients, while achieving their professional goals and experiencing growth.

What made Linus such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Linus is an eager learner and brings with him the skills, behaviors and attitude that allow for a deep, personal transformation during the program: openness, humility, curiosity, passion for learning, and a willingness to listen and reflect. It was a pleasure to have him in class.”

Professor Christoph Zott
IESE Business School


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