EMBA unlocks leadership role for alumnus at Medtronic

IMD alumnus Reinhard Krickl credits the EMBA for allowing him to progress from a managerial role to program leader at Medtronic, the medical technology company where he has been working for 11 years.

He has now taken over the full responsibility for the Ardian business unit in Germany, a Silicon valley start-up for catheter-based therapies that Medtronic recently acquired.

Krickl, who has a scientific and technical background, had occupied various positions in sales and marketing in his native Austria and in Switzerland, when he realized that to develop his business acumen, he needed to learn to speak "the language of finance."

"I needed to go from intuitive operations into some better prepared strategic execution," he said to explain why he was the first to enroll in the IMD program when Medtronic offered the possibility to selected individuals.
But the EMBA, he soon realized, was not just about learning the rules and tools of business, it was also about acquiring the understanding.

"This came as a great surprise," he admitted, one that completely exceeded his expectations of the program. The leadership stream, he said, "aims to allow you to first understand yourself, understand how you influence others and how you get your work-life balance in order."

This in turn led him to better understand the culture of others, a process that turned out to be very valuable for his own development. "I don't think this happens in other MBA programs," he added.

Understanding, not just acquiring knowhow, was the key to leadership, he discovered, a principle that he also learned to apply during the discovery expeditions.

The trip to China, he said, broadened his horizons by allowing him to understand that business is conducted very differently there and that "you can't just export your business model."

"You need to scrutinize your strategy and completely rethink how you engage with people."

As for the trip to Silicon Valley, little did he know that he was to gain the insight that is valuable to him in his current position at Ardian, a startup that the EMBA class of 2010 visited before the Medtronic acquisition. His job, at the interface of a multinational and a start-up, is to develop a good idea into a real business.

"To be able to breathe the start-up culture for one and a half weeks gave me a much better handling of what I do now, which is to bring together people with good ideas in certain areas with people who have the expertise in production."

Being able to rely on the support of a small group of fellow alumni both from a business and private perspective has also been extremely positive, Krickl said.

"We continue to meet either physically or on Skype and enjoy exchanging and challenging each other."

On a larger scale, he also appreciated the momentum that was sustained by the continued discovery expeditions, giving as example a trip to India organized by another of the program's alumni.

"It allowed us to combine the discovery of an interesting country with having a lot of fun, since a number of participants came with their families."

The EMBA, Krickl observes, is a steep learning curve, but the advantage is that you can immediately apply the next day what you have learned the night before. He completed the program in 2009.

"The key is to drive executive decisions based not only on learning, but on the understanding that has been gained," a form of leadership that, in his opinion, creates win-win situations.

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