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Kirsten Ratzlaff (27) was awarded her Bachelor degree in International Business Administration by Frankfurt School in 2012. She went on to complete a Master of Finance degree at the business school in 2013.

Kirsten Ratzlaff currently works as Executive Assistant to the Executive Board for Finance and HR at Lufthansa Cargo AG. She previously worked for the company as a risk management specialist. But Kirsten Ratzlaff started preparing the ground for a career at Lufthansa while she was still studying for her Bachelor degree; she took part in the trainee programme “st.i.p. (study and intensive practice) finance” organised by Lufthansa AG in Germany and gained experience of various finance-related activities in the Lufthansa Group during a series of work placements and internships.

To what extent did your academic studies prepare you for the challenges of your current job? What did you find especially useful?

First, my studies gave me specialist knowledge I’ve been able to use as the basis for understanding how the company works, hence for my current activities. But my degree courses also encouraged me to think critically: you learn to look for the true reasons behind simple facts. When I embark on a new activity and ask about the processes involved, the reply is often “because we’ve always done it that way”. So people don’t always stop and think about activities and processes analytically. While studying, I also learned to concentrate intensively on my work and prioritise issues accordingly – this ability to focus is especially helpful during stressful periods when I’m keeping many balls in the air at once.

In my current position, I have to prepare a lot of talks and presentations. So the fact that during my degree courses, I not only learned to prepare content properly but also learned to illustrate and present it effectively by using a common theme, is something that’s useful to me on a daily basis.

Looking back, how important was your time as a student at Frankfurt School in the greater scheme of things?

My time as a student was a very formative period. It’s a stage in your life when you acquire a lot of knowledge, depending on your interests – when you test yourself and find out what you really want to do, for example on work placements. For me, it was also a time when I worked together with many different people from various cultures and we all gained a better understanding of our different ways of life. I still benefit from that experience today, whenever I work in international teams.

What’s your favourite memory of your time at Frankfurt School?

What really stood out for me was the very high level of motivation among my fellow students. During my Master degree course in particular, I was really inspired by the totally committed way we worked together in groups and the enriching discussions we used to have. I’ve rarely encountered such a concentrated sense of “drive and inspiration” since then.

How important are alumni for a business school? What do you think alumni can do for their alma mater?

On the one hand, alumni act as living advertisements for their university; within our companies, we can be ambassadors for Frankfurt School and especially for the high quality of the education there. On the other hand, alumni also represent a link between the university and the companies and industries in which the alumni are working.

What’s your favourite motto?

Nobody’s perfect, but we can only make progress if we have the confidence to do things. So my favourite motto is: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to always be afraid of making a mistake.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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