Personal MBA Journey | Josip Šaban

Photo Josip Saban

Josip Saban, MSc

Personal Profile

Name: Josip Šaban

Company & Position: Erste Digital, Senior Data Expert

Education: Master of Science in Computing specializing in database theory (University of Zagreb), multiple certifications (SAFE4 SCRUM master, SAFE4 Product Owner, Project Management (PMP), ITIL Foundation v3, CompTIA Project+)

Homepage: https://jsaban.github.io/, opens an external URL in a new window

Personal Highlight: After university I started as a developer, but after a couple of years, while working with some amazing team leaders and project managers, I was assigned to a project managed by a very hostile and unprofessional manager that made every mistake a manager can make. After significant people turnover and client complaints, she was replaced, but stress and conflict caused by her work moved me to the path of management research. In the beginning it was academic, but after a couple of years I got an opportunity to lead my first team, and, unlike most IT operational people, I really liked it. People development, project management, client relations and strategic planning became more challenging than operationally building software. I cannot give an exact answer, it was more organic development that moved me to management, and though quite challenging at times I would not go back...it became something I do for more than money.

Personal Motto / Favourite Quote: I always use one from Suits, from Harvey Specter (my favourite series): “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

MBA program: MBA Innovation, Digitalization & Entrepreneurship (Start June 2021)

MBA Journey Take-off Interview

Though Austria offers multiple MBA programs, I wanted to stay close to IT. Since TU Wien is a "brand name" in IT education, I did a deeper research on possibilities of further education, and this one seemed ideal. Other options were either a general MBA, that would bring less benefits to my career as an IT manager or specialized MBA studies, for example automotive industry, that is not connected to my industries, which at this moment include mostly finance and insurance areas. 

I wanted MBA studies that will give me more than formal managerial knowledge but additionally a curated list of students and professors that will know challenges in today's and tomorrow's IT industry. Since TU Wien is primarily a leading IT university, my assumption on application was that I will get specific insights that will shape me for challenges of IT industry, which, at this moment, relate to new ways of working, engineers personal development and change in company's structure in a world that is connected, but with significantly changing role of management. After the first course, I was not disappointed.

There are three expectations - knowledge, networking and a prestigious degree, all three equally important in years to come. Since my career path lies in management, I would like to present myself as a person that invests in continuous education and cherishes knowledge that can be gained both in books and in real-world experience of MBA participants. With this program I hope to gain all of this.

Main message I would send is that management is a game with many faces, and if you are doing it for money or prestige without knowing how to do it, you will be like the person from the beginning of my story - somebody that has a role but is not capable of managing people and, consequently, bring projects to successful conclusion. Like everything else in life, you have to have a piece of talent but invest a lot of hours and prepare to fail on multiple levels. But if you get great at it, and create efficient and productive teams, there are very few things that can give you better work satisfaction.

You need to set clear lines, especially in times of hybrid work when this line is more blurred. Sometimes you have to work more, but when you don't focus on other, sometimes more important things. If you are judged only by the hours you put in, then reconsider how and where you work. There is no disconnect between education and career - if you are in IT and you do not deeply understand this, you will not last long on the market. And when work/education are done, they are done - it is time to focus on private life. Balance is everything.

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