Lucas Philipp Hell started studying for a degree in Business Administration at Frankfurt School in August 2013, in a work-study arrangement with Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen (Helaba). He was awarded his Bachelor degree in February 2017. He is currently working in Helaba’s Credit Risk Management Restructuring/Workout division and is due to embark on a Master in International Finance degree course at HEC Paris in September 2017.
What made you decide to apply for a Bachelor degree course at Frankfurt School?
While I was still at school, I was already very interested in business issues and read widely on the subject. As a sixth-former, I started volunteering for internships at various financial companies such as savings banks, major retail banks, private banks, brokerages and asset management firms. This was the moment it became clear to me that I wanted to work in this industry at a later stage. The internships gave me some initial work experience, and I was keen to build on this after leaving school. But after getting good results in the school-leaving exam (Abitur: 1.0), I also wanted to give myself a solid academic grounding, so I started looking for a degree course that would allow me to build up my practical experience without short-changing the theory. While I was visiting a jobs fair, I came across a stand manned by a Frankfurt School representative. It didn’t take him long to convince me that a degree course in Business Administration was the way to go, supported by a work/study arrangement with a business partner. This would be an ideal combination of theory and practice, a semester and internship abroad, small study groups and personal support by faculty staff.
How well did your academic studies at Frankfurt School prepare you for the challenges of your current job? What did you find especially useful?
Studying at Frankfurt School helped me strengthen my analytical skills. Even now, the tight integration of theory and practice (I trained as a banker in tandem with the course) helps me examine problems from various angles and develop appropriate solutions. While I was studying, there was also a huge emphasis on teamwork. From our very first semester, we were working on presentations and case studies together, finding solutions together – sometimes in international study groups. A readiness to tackle new things and a sense of humour when working with other people were also essential. Conversely, we also had to be able to deal constructively with negative feedback and take responsibility for our mistakes. These soft skills help me enormously in my current work in an international environment. Finally, being close to the financial world both professionally and geographically is an enormous advantage and provides plenty of opportunities for networking. This is how I was able to build up my professional contacts at an early stage in my career.
Looking back, how important was your time as a student at Frankfurt School in the greater scheme of things?
My time as a student at Frankfurt School was a very important stage in my life. I made many close friends and started to build my first network, and at the same time, I acquired a wealth of skills and knowledge. The degree programme is incredibly flexible, allowing students to set their own priorities and pursue their personal interests. Above all, I loved Frankfurt School’s “internationalism in practice” – a lot of the faculty members and fellow students came from abroad. I also spent a semester in Vancouver (Canada) and worked for an NGO in Kigali (Rwanda) for my internship abroad. My personal development at Frankfurt School definitely played a part in the success of my applications for a Deutschlandstipendium scholarship and – later on – a German National Academic Foundation scholarship; the same applies to my application to study for a Master’s degree at HEC in Paris.
During my internship in Rwanda, I also became aware of the concept of microfinance. Frankfurt School has extensive expertise in this area, so while I was still studying for my Bachelor’s degree, I successfully completed the six-month online course to qualify as a Certified Expert in Microfinance.
I’d also like to mention the excellent work done by the Career Services team in providing support and advice for job applications. When they select events to host, they always make sure that the various career options open to graduates are as clear as possible. Currently, many of the events focus on startups in general and fintechs in particular; I’ve attended quite a few of them, and will continue to do so as an alumnus.
What’s your favourite memory of your time at Frankfurt School?
One of my favourite memories of my student days is of an event featuring Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), which I organised at Frankfurt School in the autumn of 2016. After I’d taken the initiative to enquire at Mr Lindner’s office about whether he’d be interested in giving a lecture on business startups in Germany, and he’d given me a positive answer, Frankfurt School gave me a lot of help in organising and delivering the event. Knowing I was able to organise such an event, with both the latitude but also the support I needed while doing so, contributed to one of the best experiences of my time as a student.
What advice would you give to prospective Frankfurt School students?
Before you embark on a degree course at Frankfurt School, you should be aware that it will be very tough to start with. And when you start studying in earnest, you quickly realise that it’s even tougher than you thought! But you’ve just got to persevere, persevere, persevere – after all, we managed to do it! And always stay curious, never stop asking questions. Because these are the key personality traits that will serve you well throughout your personal and professional life.