Career Story: Markus Ber, MBA, Miba Friction Group

Global Executive MBA Alumnus

Markus Ber, MBA

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?
Two important things come to my mind, and both involve taking over responsibility for others. First, when I became a father and took over responsibility for my family with (by now three) children, and second, when I became a Managing Director of Miba Sinter Austria GmbH and took over responsibility for the well-being of hundreds of families in the region where I live.

Did you originally want to pursue a career in a different field? If so, why is it that nothing has come of your plans?
To be honest: I pursue the career of my dreams. When I was in primary school, I already knew I wanted to study automotive engineering and work in this field. However, I have never followed a specific, predetermined career path. Rather, I have always seized the opportunities that opened up to me along the way.

How and why did you come to work for Miba Friction Group?
At first sight, you could think the move from managing one of Miba’s 20 production sites worldwide (I became a Managing Director of Miba Sinter Austria GmbH in July 2003) to being the COO of Miba Friction Group happened because there was a vacancy on the one hand, and a suitable internal candidate to fill it on the other. The fact that I have been with Miba Friction Group since April of this year illustrates the effectiveness of our company’s strategic human capital programs. During my almost nine years as a Managing Director of Miba Sinter Austria GmbH, my most important task was to increase the plant’s performance. My second most important task was to form a strong and focused management team built on common values and goals.

At Miba, task achievement is accompanied by state-of-the-art personnel development tools. Succession planning, for example, means that as a manager you are responsible for the development of both your management team and potential successors. In line with one of our core values—lifelong learning—I made the decision to attend the WU Executive Academy’s Executive MBA program. I wanted to refresh and update my knowledge and, at the same time, broaden my personal horizons. As a result of all this, I was well-prepared for potential career changes. Joining Miba Friction Group was a logical consequence.

What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals? What concrete career opportunities have opened up for you?
Apart from my proven track record as a site manager, the MBA degree was a key factor in my becoming COO of Miba Friction Group. The MBA program offers a wide range of theoretical knowledge of cutting-edge leadership and management topics. Moreover, your interpersonal skills will get better as you interact with professionals and executives from different cultures and nations. The residencies to Russia, Asia and the U.S. helped me learn more about these economies. The virtual team project helped me learn how to organize myself when working with team members in different time zones. All the assignments helped me understand how to best manage complex tasks.

What was your biggest professional/personal success?
Seeing people I have supported, led or coached achieve their goals. This applies to our three children as much as it does to my employees and all the people I have worked with so far.

What are your goals for the coming year? Your goals in general? Is there still something you absolutely want to do?
My goal for the next year is to learn more about those international markets and economies in which the plants I am responsible for operate in. Another goal is to develop a successful, global management team. In general, I have always set my goals in such a way as to achieve constant improvement. Each and every of my steps was made in preparation for the next one. Whatever it may be, I will find a way to improve it.

There is nothing specific that I feel I absolutely must do. I simply want to stay alert and make the most of any and all opportunities that the future holds in store for me.

What do you consider a “great luxury”?
Loving what I do and being able to do what I love.

What was the last book/film you really enjoyed?
The movie “Keinohrhasen” with Til Schweiger.

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership? Has it been influenced by a leadership role model?
For me, leadership has always been about having a vision, sharing it with others and making it a common goal. This involves providing guidance and support; setting up guardrails, as it were, and giving feedback; accepting responsibility; communicating clear expectations and demanding performance. My leadership philosophy has always been influenced by the feedback I receive—be it personal feedback or feedback as to how well I achieve my goals—and by observing other leaders or managers.

How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?
I have learned to enjoy the moment. Whether I am with my family, meet friends, do sports, listen to music or savor a delicious meal: For me, the important thing is to always celebrate the moment. Years ago, for example, when I had three small children and a demanding job, I saw in a newspaper that a travel agency advertised one-day flights to the Greek island of Kos. It was October, and the temperatures in Austria were already dropping. I immediately knew that this was exactly what my wife and I needed—take a day off and fly to Kos. I still remember how great it was to lie in the sun, swim, and simply breathe that late summer air. We weren´t disappointed that we were not able to stay longer; we simply enjoyed those great hours.

When I’m away on business in time zones different to the European one, I now turn off my mobile phone during the night. I don’t answer any calls, nor do I read any e-mails. I’ve learned to value some hours of sleep.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
I don’t want to change places with anyone.

Why would you recommend the Global Executive MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?
In addition to what I have mentioned earlier, I am convinced that the Global Executive MBA is a great learning opportunity. No matter how many years of experience you have gathered or how many trainings or seminars you have completed, this international program—with its density of learning, its residencies and the virtual team project—challenges you, provides you with immediate feedback and allows you to make friends all over the world.

Looking back, I liked the variety of topics and the structure of the program, which required you to stay focused, best about these 14 challenging months. In order to be able to complete the different assignments we had to work together, ask questions, listen to each other and deliver. The three residencies to Russia, Asia (China and India) and the U.S. rounded out the learning experience.


My motto in life…
There’s always a solution out there. Find it!

Things that make me laugh…
I laugh every day.

Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook…

Remnants of toothpaste in the sink. 

I would spend my last money on…
In 20 years I will…
Enjoy another moment.