Haworth Europe’s Lydia Kirchel had high expectations when she enrolled in EMScom; today, as a graduate of MScom 11, Kirchel says she gained much more than a superior post-graduate education in communications.
Kirchel, a German citizen, is Corporate and Marketing Communications Manager Europe with Haworth, a world leader in the design and production of easy-to-integrate office environments.
“When I was at the University of Hannover 10 years ago, my main subjects were marketing, media science and production. At that time, you couldn’t study communications as you can now,” Kirchel explained. “I always wanted to do public relations, so I went into that area via sales, marketing support and corporate communications.”
Kirchel’s communications career path began with Tokyo-based Konica Minolta, where she worked as a corporate communications specialist – later advancing to senior specialist – at the group’s European Headquarters. She joined Haworth in 2006
“When I joined Haworth, I took over a five-member team in marketing communications in Germany. To strengthen the European marketing network I took on a newly created position in 2007 to build strong links with the U.S. HQ,” said Kirchel, who is based in Bad Münder, near Hannover. Today, she is a member of Haworth’s Global Marketing Council.
Kirchel first heard about MScom eight years ago after completing a PR consultant degree.
“I immediately knew, ‘This is something for me!’ because EMScom focuses on the communication topics relevant to my career and has an international orientation,” she explained. “I decided right then that I would start putting some money aside so that I could do EMScom.”
When she decided to take the plunge and join MScom, Kirchel had high expectations.
“It was important to me be able to step outside of my focus on immediate responsibilities and get a broad view of corporate communications. I wanted to gain insights and tools that I could bring back to my job with Haworth,” she said.
Now a graduate of the program, Kirchel said EMScom exceeded her expectations.
“It was only when I was looking back at my EMScom11 experience that I realized how much confidence I had gained during those 18 months. I’m much better prepared to explain and defend the role of communication as an element of strategy,” she said.
Behind that newfound confidence are MScom learning experiences that help Kirchel shape her company’s success.
“In my role with Haworth, I’m involved in branding, internal and external communications and new media,” she said. “Since MScom touches on so many communication disciplines and topics, I was really able to bring valuable information back to the workplace.”
Further evidence of EMScom’s value is the credibility it brings to participants.
“Our Vice President of Finance at Haworth’s US headquarters recently asked for my input into our 2011 strategy, and I told him about MScom and was able to offer some perspectives on strategy,” said Kirchel.
In addition to the demanding EMScom coursework and discussions in Lugano, Kirchel was impressed by the two-week management session at the Anderson School of Business at UCLA in Los Angeles, Calif.
“Those two weeks were an amazing experience both in terms of everything we gained from the UCLA faculty and our visits to Mattel and the Getty Museum. For example, the Head of Corporate Communication at the Getty took time to talk with us about how his team works,” Kirchel said.
Another highlight of the program was the strong bond among EMScom11 degree candidates.
“I made many friends in EMScom and one in particular with whom I’ll be friends for the rest of our lives. That was a pleasant surprise. I think the EMScom network will be important to me well into the future,” she said.
“In addition, I appreciate the value EMScom puts on lifelong learning by allowing alumni to attend future EMScom sessions anywhere in the world free of charge. I see myself as a lifetime learner, so this really brings added value to my EMScom experience.”
Kirchel’s advice to anyone considering an EMScom education?
“If you want to move ahead with your communications career, you have to do EMScom,” she said.
Text based on interview carried out in December 2010.