Christopher Kirsch‘s academic career is characterised by an unusual combination of subjects. Having previously earned a Bachelor’s degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Kirsch – who was born in the Rhineland – graduated from Frankfurt School of Finance & Management last year, as a Master in International Business (MIB). Since March 2014, he has been working in the Financial Services unit of global management consultancy Accenture.
In this alumnus interview, he talks about his experiences studying at Frankfurt School and explains why it’s more exciting not to be top dog.
To what extent did your course at Frankfurt School prepare you for the challenges of your current job?
I had very little experience of the world of business when I started my degree course at Frankfurt School, so the first thing I needed to do was acquire a basic understanding of economics. One of the classes I took focused on Consulting; that’s been extremely useful in my current job. And there’s no question that the name “Frankfurt School” opens many doors. Nowadays, the business school is held in high regard in the corporate world and has a great reputation.
What influence did Frankfurt School have on you as a person?
As you’ll realise from my Bachelor’s degree, my background is actually in the Arts. Combining this knowledge with business concepts and economic theories expanded my horizons considerably. I approach problems differently these days, because now I have a whole toolkit of problem-solving skills at my disposal. As you know, consultants in particular are expected to be able to map out unfamiliar territory in a relatively short time. You can only do this if you’ve got the skills to identify structures and make logical connections.
What’s your favourite memory of your time at Frankfurt School?
I have some unforgettable memories of our trip to Kenya. One of the key criteria for my decision to study at Frankfurt School was being able to choose a regional focus – Africa, in my case. And having the opportunity to observe theory being put so effectively into practice was a genuinely enriching experience. During our two-week stay, we visited companies in Nairobi and attended executive seminars organised by United States International University, a Frankfurt School partner. My colleagues and I took advantage of the weekend to go on safari in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.
What was your biggest challenge while studying?
Most of my fellow students already had Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, so they were familiar with the various subject areas. I wasn’t, however – I lacked basic knowledge of traditional things like Accounting. Of course this became very obvious at an early stage, and it took quite a bit of discipline for me to catch up.
What kind of ongoing connection do you feel you have with Frankfurt School?
Because I only recently finished my degree course, I still have quite a few points of contact with Frankfurt School, through friendships with former classmates, for example. But I also feel a certain kinship with the business school. Frankfurt School is an underdog, and I really like the whole feel of the place. Recent events in particular – the two accreditations, for example, and the new campus – all speak of an immense appetite for further development. It’s not particularly exciting to be top dog; it’s much more exciting to become one.
Thinking back over your time as a student, what advice would you give to people studying at Frankfurt School today?
If you work hard and stay interested, you can learn anything – I’m living proof of that! The point of going to university is to acquire knowledge and have the opportunity to try things out. For example, I took a “Financial Products” class while I was studying, in the full knowledge that I would find it really difficult. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t just choose subjects you’re comfortable with – every now and then you should step right outside your comfort zone.
What are you expecting from Frankfurt School’s alumni activities?
Alumni always have a bond with their alma mater. I consider Frankfurt School to be an important stage on my journey through life. In the United States, I realised just how important alumni activities can be. With commitment and mutual support, both sides can benefit enormously. So I’m expecting Frankfurt School to create the right conditions for this to happen!