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Lars Graff

"The organization benefits from my acquiring the most up-to-date tools on how to effectively and successfully run a business.", Lars Graff - MBA, Senior Manager, ATP Tour, Inc.

When you decided to earn an MBA you were a successful tennis referee on the ATP World Tour and a manager. You had completed university studies and graduated from a military academy.

What made you do it?
I wanted to develop my skills further and working for an American organization had also made me realize that an MBA is essential if you want to get ahead. I also foresaw a future where I would no longer be a referee but instead focus on my role as manager.

How did participating in the SSE MBA program change you professionally?
Immediately upon graduation I was promoted to senior manager and relocated to the ATP headquarters in Florida. While I had a hunch that a promotion was coming my way I never expected it to happen that quickly. My new position involves more business responsibility, including budget and control issues. I also represent ATP in negotiations with the other major professional tennis organizations.

At work I now feel as if I am being listened to in a whole new way and my opinion carries more weight.

What did your employer gain from your participation in the SSE MBA program?
I was able to assume a greater degree of responsibility and the organization benefits from my acquiring the most up-to-date tools on how to effectively and successfully run a business. Applying techniques from the program I prepare analyses and reports for the board of directors, which are hailed as detailed and structured. I am also frequently being called on as an internal consultant on a wide range of issues.

Another tool, which I picked up in the financial accounting course, is a balanced scorecard that enables a systematic follow-up and control of costs and revenues pertaining to a particular competition. It has proved very useful.

What were the major strengths of the SSE MBA program, in your eyes?
The faculty as well as the external lecturers were highly competent. The research-based teaching allowed me to first study theoretical foundations and models and then put them into practice in individual projects.

The opportunity to meet and discuss with senior members from the business community face to face was also great and no online MBA can compare to being present in a classroom, learning and discussing.

The study visits to companies across the world, from Sao Paulo to Bangalore and Shanghai, were well organized and we always got to meet the management. Also, I have built a personal network of valuable contacts among not just the participants but among teachers and lecturers as well, which I can draw on whenever I need to.

The MBA offered a great opportunity to meet professionals from diverse backgrounds and industries. I actually learned a lot from my fellow participants too.

What would you say to someone considering an executive MBA?
Don't hesitate, just go for it. Whether someone is sponsoring you or you pay your own way, it's a rare opportunity for personal development.