EBS Head of Master’s Studies Jim Seltenrijch: “At EBS we can help you take the next step either as a top-level expert in your field or a leader in your organisation.”

Jim Seltenrijch
Jim Seltenrijch
In this interview, Estonian Business School’s Head of Master’s Studies Jim Seltenrijch gives a detailed overview of the EBS master’s programmes. He will also share some new information about our nanodegrees and reflect on business education in general.

What challenges do you see in education/business education at the moment? Is the business master’s programme doing well? 
As with many university programmes in Estonia and around the world, the biggest challenge for higher education is to provide value. In EBS, when it comes to business education, we need to make sure that our students get the necessary skills and knowledge applicable in their jobs. We are constantly searching for the right balance between theory and practice so that we remain relevant and create an impact. When this balance is off, we create graduates that either have only theoretical knowledge but cannot apply this, or graduates that have only practical skills but lack a deeper understanding. As you can imagine, neither of these situations is favourable for us and our students, and therefore we are working hard constantly to find this golden middle way.
Is getting a master’s degree in 2021 relevant? Do you mainly see young people who have just finished their bachelor’s degree apply to the master’s programmes or people who have already built up their career and want to learn more? What is the best way?
Having done three master’s degrees myself, it would be difficult to argue that a master’s-level education is not relevant anymore in 2021. Considering the increasing competitiveness in the job market, a master’s degree is an excellent way to distinguish yourself from the competition. Personally, I took the road of immediately doing my master’s degrees after my bachelor’s. However, I also see a lot of value in obtaining work experience and then returning to the university for a master’s-level education. Whichever path you decide upon, make sure that you take the most out of it during your education. I believe that this is the beauty of the master’s studies. You are now in charge of your own education and should align this with your personal and professional interests. This way you make sure that your master’s degree brings immediate value to you and later on to your career.
You can choose between three master’s programmes at EBS. Please describe the different programmes and point out the main differences and target groups.

At EBS, we provide MBA degrees, one or two years, and a MA degree.
When it comes to the MBA degrees, the main difference is that in the one-year MBA we develop you as a leader. We expect you to have extensive work experience and already have a master’s degree in a non-business-related field.
On the other hand, the two-year MBA degree will also prepare you for a leadership role, but in addition to that, we offer the opportunity to expand your knowledge by taking different nanodegrees. You should have at least a bachelor’s degree and some years of relevant work experience for this programme.
Finally, in our MA programme, we provide the opportunity to become an expert in a specific field. The MA degree is offered both in Tallinn and Helsinki and allows you to specialise in Marketing, Finance and Accounting, or Management and Leadership. The specialisations are offered to you in the form of nanodegrees, thereby making sure that what you learn is also applicable in the professional context. For enrolling in this programme, you should have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field of business or economics, and working experience is an advantage but not a requirement.
To sum up, if you are a high-level specialist and want to become a leader, the MBA is for you. The MA degree is for you when you are a specialist and want to become an expert in your field.
Similarly to other organisations, EBS has directed its focus towards the circular economy as well as digitalisation. The circular economy lead Kerli Kant Hvass also joined the university’s team this year. How is this reflected in EBS’s programmes?

Like any other organisation, we cannot ignore the world around us and the ongoing trends. At EBS, we see that the future of business and business education is all about digitalisation and circular economy. The former part, digitalisation, has always been a focus of our university, and it is a prominent part of our master’s programmes. Since the beginning of this year, we have added the focus of circular economy, and I am very glad that we have an expert such as Kerli Kant Hvass to lead this. With the already existing EBS staff, Kerli has been building up our understanding of the circular economy, which resulted in our first nanodegree in this field. In addition to that, we are infusing the core courses with circular economy thinking to make sure that we prepare future leaders of organisations. Finally, as our university’s two main focus points, digitalisation and circular economy, will play an essential role in further developing our programmes.
EBS is the first university in Estonia that offers nanodegrees for professional development. What is a nanodegree, and what is the purpose of this study form? Who is the target group?

You asked the right person to answer this question! Nanodegrees are specialised learning modules that consist of 15 ECTS / nine weeks of classes. You can take a nanodegree separately, as part of our two-year MBA programme, or within our MA as a specialisation. The goal of our nanodegrees is to provide the learner with theoretical knowledge and practical skills, which are taught by practitioners and academics combined. Therefore, our nanodegrees are not only relevant for EBS master’s students but also for professionals that want to update their skills or learn new skills. A great example of this is the nanodegree in digital marketing which is provided by us in cooperation with Google.
Our offering is constantly updated, and we are committed never to run the same exact nanodegree a second time. In other words, we make sure that the nanodegree is continuously developed and considers the ongoing trends in the world. For example, last year, we had several nanodegrees that focused on the COVID-19 situation and how to manage this. This year, we see nanodegrees that are searching for new opportunities after the COVID-19 situation has ended. I believe that nanodegrees are an answer to the constantly changing demands on the job market and are part of the future of education in general.
As mentioned before, nanodegrees are short and focused learning modules that take place over nine weeks. In the autumn of 2021, we provide nanodegrees in two separate blocks, which means you can take a nanodegree from August to October or from November to January. This short period allows you to focus during the nanodegree and apply the obtained knowledge and skills in your organisation afterwards. Currently, we have nanodegrees in five focus areas: data management, communication and marketing, sustainability and green economy, finance and accounting, and management and leadership.
Please describe in one sentence why people should choose to study at EBS.
As you have probably seen from this interview, using only one sentence is difficult for me but let me give it a try anyway! I would say: “Do not forget to invest in yourself and your future; at EBS we can help you to take the next step either as a top-level expert in your field or a leader in your organisation”.
And one additional question. You are the Head of Master’s Studies and the Head of Entrepreneurship in the Digital Era programme, Junior Research Fellow, PhD student and lecturer at EBS. How did you find your way to EBS? And do you have any good tips on how to do time management?
Great question! I found my way to EBS in the autumn of 2016. While working in an Agile environment, I noticed that I had an increasing number of questions about the Agile framework being used in organisations. At the same time, I did not find any answers that satisfied my curiosity. This sparked my interest to find those answers myself and led me to enrol into the EBS PhD programme researching the topic of Agile in organisations that do not have software as their core product.
During my PhD studies, I discovered that I really liked to teach and work with students. So when the opportunity arose, in the summer of 2020, I decided to join EBS full-time. Since then, I have been busy developing and running a new bachelor’s programme (Entrepreneurship in the Digital Era) and updating our masters’ studies primarily by evaluating our core courses and developing new nanodegrees. Besides that, I continue to do my research into Agile and the impact on organisations.
All these tasks take up a lot of time. Therefore, my tip when it comes to time management is to prioritise. Ask yourself, is the thing I am working on really the most important thing? And do I have to finish this today? By prioritising my tasks this way, I manage to focus on the most essential thing and spend my time wisely.
More information about the EBS master’s studies is available here and about the nanodegrees here
Also, take a look at the virtual information session broadcasts:

All admission related information can be found here.
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