Real Humans of MBA Students: HEC Paris Executive MBA

HEC Paris Executive MBA

Tom Kinzel, HEC Paris, Executive MBA


My hometown is Erfurt, a beautiful city in the middle of Germany that retains much of its medieval charm, especially in the city center. Currently, I live in Leverkusen in the very west of Germany, and I plan to move to Berlin sometime this year.

Tom Kinzel, HEC Paris Executive MBA

Undergraduate Institution & Major:

I earned a Diploma in Chemistry and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Göttingen in Germany.

Pre-MBA Work Experience:

After a three-month internship at the Boston Consulting Group in Berlin, I moved to the US and did close to 3 years of postdoctoral research at the Chemistry Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, resulting, among others, in two publications in Science. In 2011, I joined Bayer Pharma in Germany and have worked for three years as Lab Head in Medicinal Chemistry, two years as Chief of Staff to the Head of Drug Discovery, four years as Head of the Innovation Center China in Beijing, and until now for over two years as Head of Open Innovation Center Europe. I am currently in transition and plan to join a mid-size company in Berlin soon.

Why Business School?  Why Now?

I decided to pursue an EMBA in August 2021 and started to look for business schools outside of Germany, because I definitively wanted international exposure.

Why did you pick your school/program? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?

I must admit that as a scientist, I did not know much about business schools. After quite a lot of research, I found HEC Paris was the best fit for me in terms of content, cohort, reputation, and feasibility. HEC Paris offers a broad education without too narrow of a focus on a single future career path and offers very interesting specializations. The cohort is extremely diverse in terms of nationality and industry and has an average of 15 years of experience. The EMBA at HEC Paris is consistently ranked high and will be of tremendous impact in the years to come. The fact of just having been accepted at HEC Paris already was received very positively when I interviewed for new jobs in December. Finally, the January intake, with its 5- to 10-day modules every two months is the most practical way for me to get the EMBA.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your graduating class?

Everyone in the cohort brings exceptional experience and knowledge to the class, which I find extremely stimulating. I can contribute with my scientific background, extensive knowledge about the Pharma industry, long-term experience in open innovation and alliance management, and advanced Excel skills.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?

My wife and I have three children from three continents: My older daughter was born in Göttingen, Germany, my son was born in Boston, and my younger daughter was born in Beijing.

Post-MBA Career Interests:

I will join the new company in a leadership role between science and business. With the EMBA, I look forward to impacting the business side of things more and more, and eventually move into more general management areas.

Advice to current prospective applicants:

If you’ve never done any formal business training, no worries; many in the cohort didn’t. Those who did are more than happy to share their insights and experiences, and even offer additional sessions to help beginners with, for example, financial accounting topics.

What is your initial impression of the school’s students/culture/community?

My impression is completely positive. I like to compare the atmosphere with the one I experienced at MIT’s chemistry department: Everyone is there to learn, everyone is very motivated, and everyone is open and helpful. Everyone has their unique special industry background with vast experience and expertise, at the same time everyone is a beginner at least some of the topics. It is not difficult to get in touch with each other, even when we are not physically on campus.

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