After leaving high school and qualifying as a banker, Maurits Weigand decided to attend university in Germany’s financial hub, Frankfurt. He graduated from Frankfurt School of Finance & Management with a Bachelor’s degree and then went on to earn a Master of Finance degree – both while working full-time. After working in Commerzbank’s Forex Trading division for several years, he moved into management consultancy, and has been working in PricewaterhouseCooper’s Asset Management division since 2011. In his spare time, Maurits Weigand travels around Hesse as a referee for the SV 07 Heddernheim football club.
To what extent did your course at Frankfurt School prepare you for the challenges of your current job?
For one thing, the course gave me a thorough grounding in the various specialist areas and aspects of the financial sector; for another, I acquired analytical skills to advanced academic standard, and these have been extremely useful – especially when devising specialist concepts, describing processes and presenting results. Learning how to formulate compelling arguments is something you’ve generally perfected by the time you finish your Master’s thesis!
What influence did Frankfurt School have on you as a person?
Frankfurt School influenced my views of networking and international attitudes in particular. By networking with fellow-students and alumni during my degree courses, I built up a network of contacts that extends far beyond my day-to-day business activities – extends far beyond Germany, in fact – and this has been immensely useful to me. Frankfurt School’s international outlook, coupled with the obligatory semester and internship abroad, enabled me to familiarise myself with Australian university culture as well as the corporate culture in Chile. These challenges gave me invaluable experience for building my own career.
What’s your favourite memory of your time at Frankfurt School?
As I’ve already mentioned, I have very happy memories of the time I spent abroad during my degree course. I spent a semester in Sydney and completed my internship in Chile – two countries with very different academic and corporate cultures. These experiences go far beyond the merely academic, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to miss them.
I also received tremendous support for my Master’s thesis from both Frankfurt School and Commerzbank. Because the business school is so closely linked with the finance industry, I was given direct access to the people I needed to interview for my empirical study.
What was your biggest challenge while studying?
Combining my course work with my job was a major challenge. I spent three days a week in the office, and three days a week at university – over five years in total! Even when I was under intense pressure at work, I couldn’t allow myself to get behind with the ongoing revision of my course content. That kind of thing trains you to be able to work under pressure, as well as giving you good time management skills. Anybody who’s chosen to do a parallel-study course knows about the dual stresses involved.
Thinking back over your time as a student, what advice would you give to people studying at Frankfurt School today?
At the time, I benefited enormously from the experiences of older fellow-students. I would urge all students to approach fellow-students in higher years, as well as former students, and engage in some serious exchange.
It’s also important to focus on your own strengths – albeit with a healthy dose of self-awareness. While I was studying, I was often advised to concentrate on my weak points and try to improve them. But over the past few years, I’ve learned that sometimes it makes more sense to invest in your strengths. On a scale of 0 to 10, it’s easier to increase a strength from 8 to 9 than shift a weakness from 2 to 3.
To what extent are you involved with Frankfurt School now?
As a student at Frankfurt School, I was given a lot of support and encouragement; Frankfurt School opened many doors into the world of finance for me. I’m grateful for this, and would like to give something back. So together with colleagues from Frankfurt School, I’m organising an annual event in Frankfurt for Bachelor fellow-students. It’s intended as a social get-together for maintaining and strengthening our network, rather than as an “official” event. Otherwise, in my role as PwC’s University Relationship Manager, I’m also in a position to give students at Frankfurt School practical assistance with finding internships and recruitment opportunities, true to the motto “Life is all about maintaining a balance between give and take”.