Interview with Irene Christen

The University of St. Gallen (HSG) interviewed Irene Christen about her education at HSG and careerpath. cereneo’s Managing Director finished the Executive Master of Business Administration at HSG in Switzerland, after finishing the European Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. Read more about her curriculum in the interview below.



Please tell us more about your professional background. What were you doing prior to embarking on the Executive MBA HSG?


”People and working with people have always fascinated me, which has led me to work in the healthcare sector. In 2012, I started working as an occupational therapist at cereneo Schweiz AG. cereneo, the Center for Neurology and Rehabilitation in Vitznau (LU), is a rehabilitation and research facility dedicated to a unique concept for the rehabilitation of patients following a stroke and other neurological diseases. It was particularly interesting for me to work in a completely new clinic and to participate more and more in its construction. The combination of clinic building, patient work and the opportunity to work scientifically in a multi-professional research team allowed me to further develop my strengths and passion. Over time, I have assumed more and more responsibility in the areas of leadership and organizational development.


During my tenure as Head of Therapies, I gained experience in Human Resources and Clinic Management. Working on projects such as the construction of an outpatient rehabilitation clinic in Dubai (UAE) has also challenged me and broadened my horizons. Starting in 2018, I finally took over the management of cereneo Schweiz AG.”


Why did you decide to do an EMBA programme? Why did you choose the EMBA HSG?


”My motivation in the area of business organization and management, which has grown over the years, has encouraged me to further my education in business administration. The timing, the potential network and the reputation of the university were decisive factors for choosing the programme. The Executive MBA at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) convinced me in all three aspects.”


How has the EMBA HSG programme changed you personally?


”The EMBA has enabled me to have more confidence in my own strengths. The exchange with my peers has given me orientation as to where I stand personally and where I want to develop in a focused way. The Executive MBA started at a time when I had just taken over the management of cereneo Schweiz AG.
During this time, the EMBA programme helped me to find my own leadership style and to question it if necessary.”


How has the EMBA HSG programme made a difference in your career?


”The EMBA HSG program did not directly change my career per se but actively accompanied and supported the change. I deliberately decided to do the EMBA programme due to the upcoming career change. This gave me a toolbox and a valuable network to successfully master the tasks as Managing Director.”


What did you appreciate the most about the EMBA HSG curriculum?


”The facilitation of practice-oriented knowledge of a high quality is one thing, but even more important for me were the contacts I was able to make and the individual conversations with various people from different industries. This has broadened my perspective. I also greatly appreciated the opportunity to intensively discuss very individual questions from my own work context with lecturers on the course or 1:1.”


Was there a particular course that you enjoyed most, and why?


”The course weeks have all inspired with different peculiarities. The Controlling course week with Dr. Torsten Truijens was certainly a highlight. He impressively integrated the participants’ different levels of knowledge into very exciting and, in my opinion, instructive days and was able to generate enthusiasm for the subject of Controlling and Finance. For me, this was an example of a lecturer’s outstanding teaching, motivation and expertise and correspondingly a very instructive time for me.”


What advice would you give potential participants who are looking to do an EMBA HSG?


”I recommend all candidates interested in the EMBA HSG programme to visit and sit in classes. This gives you a feeling of the atmosphere, the level of teaching and professional input as well as the composition of the course groups in order to assess whether this is suitable for you personally.”


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