“You will find a critical mass here for anything you want to do.”

In Eichstätt, the small Bavarian town where Andreas Jaegle grew up, the Jäegle family managed a fleet of more than 180 buses, a family-owned business they had run for over 100 years. “But I wasn’t under any pressure to run it myself,” Andreas says. “Instead, my parents encouraged me to explore and find my own path.”

Interested in “pushing myself into more challenging environments,” Andreas went to an international boarding school at age fifteen, then, rejecting an opportunity to study law in Germany, pursued his undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. There, Andreas discovered an appetite for leadership, becoming president of the student-run Business Society in his second year, in which he “organized more than sixty events, including a trip to New York City.”

After graduation, he experimented with investment banking at a top-tier bank in London, which proved to be an awkward fit, then found a more rewarding environment with McKinsey in Munich. “With investment banking, you look at operations from a distance,” Andreas says. “I wanted to get into the reality of actual operations. What strategies make sense? Is this company operating in the right markets?” In addition, McKinsey exposed Andreas to a variety of industries in a broad range of locations – including tourism in Germany, financial risk management in Nigeria, and pulp/paper strategy in Sweden – and gave him the flexibility to obtain a masters degree in Financial Economics at Oxford. When he returned, he took on his favorite assignment yet, “a four-month project for a car manufacturer advising them on their China strategy – a great way to see the real challenges faced by multi-national corporations.

A full-time, holistic experience

Andreas came to HBS to get a “broader management perspective,” but confesses he had low expectations regarding the content of the courses given his previous education and training in these fields. “I was proven wrong,” he says. “The case method is extremely applicable. It’s always about difficult situations with no easy calls; there are always multiple arguments for different paths you could take. You have to be very well prepared with your own arguments, because you will be challenged by peers who are equally well prepared. You can’t bluff your way through – yet it’s a risk-free environment where you build strong and meaningful relationships.”

Another surprise for Andreas: “I did not know how big entrepreneurship is at HBS,” he says. “It’s not just the Rock Center, not just in the electives, but integral to the core curriculum already in the first year. You’ll find a critical mass here for anything you want to do.”

“I didn’t expect HBS to be so much work, such a full-time experience,” Andreas admits. “But I get so much out of this holistic experience: academics, clubs, sports, friendships. It’s all-embracing, all-encompassing. Yes, it takes a lot of energy, but it gives a lot in return; I get so much out my day, every day. Here, you learn self-management skills, because the opportunities are endless.”