After 25 years of working in the same sector, it takes a lot of courage to decide it is time for a change.
Luckily for scientist Annett Koenig, taking opportunities and turning them into success has become a habit.
Armed with decades of learned experience and a suite of new skills acquired while studying an MBA from QUT Business School, Annett is now searching for an exciting new challenge.
Annett’s career began in her native Germany, where she obtained a degree in Biomedical Science. She worked in the neurophysiology sector for many years before heading to Australia on a short working holiday in 2009.
“I initially got a job in Sydney working in epilepsy services and saw what a huge opportunity there was to do some exciting work in Australia, so my holiday quickly turned into a permanent stay,” Annett said.
After a year in Sydney, she moved to Queensland, taking up an education role at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital before a number of years in Mackay. On her return to Brisbane and the Mater Hospital in 2015, her leadership, advocacy and stakeholder engagement skills were put to full use as Lead Neurophysiology Scientist.
“I had the opportunity to spearhead the development of the Advanced Epilepsy Unit at the Mater Centre for Neurosciences,” she said.
“This ground-breaking initiative resulted in the establishment of Queensland’s first dedicated Level 4 Epilepsy Centre. It was an incredibly rewarding role that involved life-changing treatments for our clients.”
Despite her many achievements since arriving in Australia, in recent years, Annett has been looking to diversify her career and take on new challenges, which eventually led her to the QUT MBA.
“I built a good career and network in Germany and then essentially replicated it in Australia over the last 15 years,” she said. “But I am always looking for new challenges and would love to take on a more senior management role or transition to an entirely new sector.”
“Doing the MBA is important to supporting that transition, and I hope it will give me the skills that can be applied in any sector.”
Annett started the MBA in September 2021 and expects to graduate later this year.
One of the key takeaways from the program for Annett has been a greater understanding of herself as a leader, particularly the cross-cultural differences between German and Australian leadership practices.
“As a mature age student I think building a deep understanding of how and why leadership skills work is something that will be incredibly valuable in the next stage of my career,” she said. “It was particularly interesting to learn how I could adapt the learned leadership skills I picked up in Germany to a more Australian style.”
“Having a framework to understanding those differences and applying them in a team environment was incredibly insightful and has definitely changed the way I will approach roles in the future.”
The skills learned have also allowed her to take on two board positions with the innovative German-Australian Business Alliance (iGABA) and Indian education charity, the Bodhgaya Development Association (BDA).
“The roles I do in these organisations are only possible because of the skills I have picked up doing my MBA.”
Annett has found the short module structure of the program a great way to learn with all of her focus able to go on to a single topic.
Each QUT MBA unit of 6 credit points is delivered in a seven-week module (six weeks of teaching with final assessment in week seven) with a short break between topics.
“I find the modules are a great way to dive into a topic for six weeks and really immerse yourself in the learning process,” she said. “Once one module is done, you move on to another one, which can be completely different, so there is a real sense of excitement at the start of each teaching period.”
“The electives are particularly exciting, and there is a huge variety to choose from. I have done an Agile Project Management program through Harvard, been back to Germany to do an International Business program and will finish my electives with a module on global business and technology trends.”
The most surprising aspect of the program for Annett has been the friendships she has built throughout the shared experience of trying to balance work and study.
“I have made a couple of really great friends with people from very different career paths and ages, and it has been great to have that support and be able to lean on each other to make sure we get the best from the MBA, even when it is really hard.”
For more information on the QUT MBA, please visit https://www.qut.edu.au/study/mba.