"There couldn't have been a better steppingstone."

The bachelor thesis as an accelerator for your career - interview with our graduate Tim Adler, who used his bachelor thesis as steppingstone for his own career.

A newly created position, a consolidated position as an expert in the company and a lot of visibility - this is what many dual students at HSBA dream of. Tim Adler and Felix Bernert, graduates of the BSc Business Administration, have achieved it: with their well-structured and coordinated final theses, they have created clear added value for their company, made valuable information from theory usable in practice and actively shaped their careers. This has paid off for them. How can this succeed? We not only talked to Tim Adler, but also interviewed Dr. Michael Schellenberg about the value of a good Bachelor's thesis. Together with Prof. Dr. Inga Schmidt-Ross and Prof. Dr. Ann-Kathrin Harms, he supervised both students. He also worked intensively for two years as part of a research project* on the question of how the potential of theses can be exploited, among other things, with regard to the use of the results as well as career opportunities for the students.

Dear Michael, you have long and intensively dealt with the quality and value of theses and have supervised and assessed numerous theses, so you are an expert in this field. How much impact can and should a (dual) Bachelor's thesis have in your view and can it be a decisive career accelerator?

Of course, it always depends on the scope and the topic, but: Bachelor's theses can be especially important for strategic and forward-looking topics that are often difficult or impossible to work on alongside the workload of everyday life. In this respect, theses, provided they also receive support and visibility, can advance concrete projects or answer company-specific, business-relevant questions and/or function as internal consulting projects. And they do so with a robust scientific claim, especially in terms of potential empirical data collection and analysis.

Increasingly, we see that by working on a specific topic, providing new insights and, in particular, coming up with actionable recommendations, students create their own steppingstone to a career and often ensure that a new job is created, projects are rethought and departments are reorganised following the Bachelor's thesis. In other words, students can actively shape their careers, while the Bachelor thesis can serve as the centrepiece. Tim Adler and Felix Bernert, both of whom I had the pleasure of supervising, have achieved just that. Congratulations!

"A major advantage of HSBA's dual study programmes is the close link between theory and practice. Knowledge acquired at the university can thus be applied directly in practice. Likewise, topics and issues from the company can be discussed academically at the university. This results in new perspectives and approaches that offer enrichment for practice. Mr Adler's Bachelor's thesis is a good example of exactly this. A topic was scientifically discussed that is highly relevant in practice. Here, findings from theory as well as from practice were included and linked with each other in order to work out a target-oriented solution."
Christian Prochel, Tim Adler's student supervisor at Hamburg Süd

Dear Tim Adler, first of all, congratulations from us on your Bachelor's degree! You wrote your Bachelor's thesis in close cooperation with your partner company Hamburg Süd and were able to deliver significant added value for the company. What is it about?

I worked out success factors for the implementation and optimisation of a lead management process in my cooperation company Hamburg Süd and its parent company Maersk. Lead management includes all processes from the generation of potential customers (leads) to the further development and qualification of these leads into profitable and long-term business relationships. Among other things, the set-up and cooperation of the marketing and sales departments as well as the use of suitable software were examined for optimisation potential with regard to the lead management process. The work is based on the latest scientific findings as well as qualitative research through expert interviews.

And how did you decide on this topic, did you work out the approach together with your company? Were there specific requirements or did you take the initiative?

From the beginning, it was important to me to work on a topic in which I could show real interest and in which I could develop my own skills while the company benefited from it. At the same time, my enthusiasm for sales and marketing had already developed during my studies. Therefore, I independently searched for a topic that met these requirements with my colleagues from the corresponding departments as well as with my professor Inga Schmidt-Ross. Lead management was the final topic, which was the focus at Hamburg Süd, had strong ambitions for further development and is also still very much in the early stages of research.

How important was it to you not "merely" to do research, but to truly create something?

For me, the concept of the dual study programme at HSBA is precisely designed to create something real through research and thus offer added value to the cooperating companies. This also had an impact on my Bachelor's thesis.

Due to the close connection to my company and the colleagues, it simply is great fun to work on an internal project and at the same time to conduct scientific research with the support of the professors.

In addition, of course, there is the impression you make in the company when you can actively drive a project forward and thus create real benefit. For me, this solution-oriented way of doing research is one of the main advantages of the dual study programme.

Can you perhaps give an example of the applicability of your work?

The results of my research help to promote an efficient further development of the lead management process in the company. For the colleagues from the departments involved, the well-founded scientific findings as well as the results of the interviews were very beneficial in order to also consider scientific perspectives in the further implementation. The success factors include close cooperation between sales and marketing as well as the targeted use of IT resources for CRM systems and marketing automation.

Does this open up new opportunities for you? Can you expand on your topic at Hamburg Süd?

I was able to expand my network within the Maersk Group many times over through my bachelor's thesis. This provided me with insights into departments and contacts with colleagues, which had a significant influence on my current position in Sales and Marketing. In my new role, I work with sales colleagues all over the world to turn leads into long-term customers. There couldn't have been a better steppingstone for this.


*Schellenberg M. and Schmidt-Ross, I., Concept for increasing the quality and value of theses at HSBA, 2018