Alumni Accomplishments

I am worth more now

How OU's Executive MBA program broadened Michel Friedhofer's professional horizons

icon of a calendarOctober 18, 2023

icon of a pencilBy Patrick Dunn

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With a successful 20-year career in engineering and financial analysis, Michel Friedhofer says his choice to enroll in OU's Executive MBA program was about more than just getting a pay raise.

"I definitely had expectations about what kind of doors an MBA can open career-wise, but there was also a very large chunk of it that was motivated by the sheer curiosity to learn things that I hadn't learned before," he says.

When he started the Executive MBA program in 2019, Friedhofer had worked a combined 11 years at Auburn Hills-based Continental Automotive and its spinoff company, Vitesco Technologies, climbing the ranks from engineer to project manager to controller. The Executive MBA program made perfect sense for him because it's tailored to the needs of busy, experienced professionals, offering a 21-month program with classes on alternating weekends.

"The alignment was fantastic," Friedhofer says. "It's very compatible with somebody who has a serious professional life that they need to attend to."

Friedhofer, who describes himself as incessantly curious, was immediately fascinated by the new subjects he delved into through the program. He praises the "adult-to-adult interactions" he had with highly experienced faculty members, such as Professor Jennifer Cordon Thor, who teaches Law, Ethics, and Leadership for the Executive MBA program.

"I'm an engineer, currently working in a finance capacity, and I found myself wanting to take more law classes because of Professor Thor," Friedhofer says. "It was that level of admiration for her."

Friedhofer speaks with similar respect for his fellow students. The Executive MBA program employs a cohort model, so that the same group of students completes the entire 21-month program together. Friedhofer says that was helpful in building rapport among a diverse group of professionals. He quickly gravitated towards three fellow cohort members with whom he repeatedly worked on group projects.

"We could split the tasks and we were sure that whatever was assigned to one of these group members was going to get done, and was going to get done with the expected level of seriousness and professionalism," he says.

Friedhofer also appreciated the program's full-service model, which provides textbooks and meals for students.

"Time is a very limited resource for the typical attendee of this program, so these little parcels of assistance really go a long way," he says.

Since completing the Executive MBA program in 2021, Friedhofer has been promoted to controlling manager at Vitesco.

"I am worth more now," he says. "That can be read as that I'm worth more money to the company, but it really goes beyond that. I bring more to the table now. Discussions go further and they become richer. That's the difference that it makes."

Michel Friedhofer - Vitesco Technologies talks to a coworker

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