Johannes Bulling

Johannes Bulling

Age: 33
Nationality: Dutch
Current position:
Executive MBA participant and Legal Corporate Attorney (Rechtsanwalt), Legal & Compliance, Corporate, Corporate Finance & Capital Markets Law, E.ON AG

Why did you want to do an MBA?

Lawyers can’t restrict themselves to legal issues, as we manage tasks within other company departments and need to know how business works. I decided to do EMBA six years ago when I was switching from legal studies into legal traineeship, after my first degree in law, in order to bridge legal work and business. My boss in the legal department saw the necessity of being able to manage the managerial tasks in the legal department, and the necessity of being able to ‘speak business’. This is why I’m being sponsored by my employer, E.ON.

I joined RSM to get management knowledge from a practical approach. What I like about the EMBA is we’re all sharing experiences. The programme is very practically-based, and quite different from the approach in Germany. It’s useful for me to study for an MBA in parallel with doing my job. I wouldn’t be able to quit the job to do a full time MBA.

What reinforced your decision to do an EMBA?

I wanted to develop my soft skills, and become truly international by sharing experiences with other people of my age with a different cultural background. And of course I wanted the opportunity of networking. I’ve had great experiences talking to fellow students, and the networking opportunities have extended beyond just me and my contacts. They have also included contact between my managers and the managers of fellow students.

With such an intense career, how does the EMBA fit into your schedule?

You have to be very organised, but RSM does a lot to support you. The programme and its surrounding activities are very well managed and supportive. RSM’s online study management system ensures you don’t miss anything and are kept well informed.

I get Friday afternoons off so I can travel to Rotterdam, and I’m lucky in that I can share the 230km drive with a fellow student. Of course studying takes a lot of time, but at least you have Sunday free in Rotterdam.  You really need that time after such a busy weekend.

Have you been able to apply what you’re learning in your job?

Yes, definitely. I’m involved in negotiations for contracts and E.ON funding for universities, so it’s interesting to know more about costs, structures and incentives. I was able to bring this knowledge into discussions with E.ON’s corporate development team. We are currently discussing a steering framework for business concepts and how our legal entities are structured. There’s a business model that underlies all these questions, and to know the legal side alone is not enough; we need to take the business side into our considerations too.

What is your PhD? It’s regarding the duties of information surrounding capital markets, and is closely related to derivatives and futures, so I already have some economic background. I was 27 when I finished it.

Why should I choose RSM for my MBA?

RSM is a university with good international reputation for its MBA programmes, and there are maybe only one or two at the most like this in Germany. So RSM presents a good opportunity for me to become more international and experience more international diversity. There are students from 24 nations in my programme – I wouldn’t find that in any equivalent German course.

How are the professors?

It’s great to have such internationally diverse professors teaching us, and it was something that I didn’t expect. I thought most of them would be Dutch, but they come from universities all over the world, in New Zealand, Canada and the US, for example, so we have very international teachers as well as international students. Most of them have some industry background, and all have practical experiences.

What do you think of the quality of teaching?

It’s very high, and I find it very interesting to see the professors’ different approaches, how they make you look at things in a different way. The studies are challenging, and that’s what you would expect. The professors are very keen to push things forward, as are the students.

What has been your most memorable moment so far?

It was probably visiting Hong Kong International Terminals, a leading port operator, during the international trip. It was then that I really understood that nothing works without solid mathematical databases, and I understood that programming and maths is crucial to a business like that. It opened my eyes.

How should I discuss my MBA aspirations with my company in order to get financial and time support?

First I asked the HR department if there was any possibility that my studies could be supported. I was reassured that there was, so I talked to my boss. It was actually him who had first suggested it, some time before. My employer covers a considerable part of the fees, and of course in return I have committed to work here for a further three years after completing the programme. I’m looking forward to working within the company after my EMBA.

Any advice now that you have experienced your first term?

You should be willing to go to your limits; all my fellow students do. It’s definitely a big challenge– even if you already have some knowledge – but that’s good because you get the great experience of two years studying at RSM and get to keep the knowledge that it brings. You don’t just get the letters after your name.