Finding your life compass in the SIM program

Oya Houalla didn’t just choose the Master in Strategy and International Management (SIM) for a career boost. Discover how her experience at St.Gallen in Switzerland helped Oya find her life compass and forge a professional and personal path into the future.

In short

A continuous learning experience in the SIM program

Not everybody has their entire career trajectory planned out ahead of them when choosing a master’s program. That was certainly the case for Oya Houalla when she arrived at the University of St.Gallen to pursue the Master in Strategy and International Management (SIM). Oya had previously studied a Bachelor’s in Math and Finance, which “was really interesting, but I was still super lost in my career.” (00:43

A generalist degree, the SIM program is a solid option for students who want to increase their job prospects. As we’ll see throughout this article, the benefits of a global network, an adaptable skill set, and immense personal growth are all excellent benefits of attending St.Gallen, one of Europe’s top business schools

The program prioritizes continuous learning and exposes students to theories, practical work, and internships. This multi-pronged approach gives students like Oya a range of angles to learn from rather than a one-size-fits-all lecture methodology. 

The SIM program is designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today’s global market, but it’s also about personal growth and self-discovery. “In the short term, I think I’m going to acquire a lot of very helpful skills,” says Oya. “In the long term, I’m going to have a really good understanding of who I am as a person and how I’m going to approach life from both a career standpoint and a personal and happiness standpoint.” (02:39)

St.Gallen centered its degree on strategy, leadership, finance, marketing, organizational behavior, and international management. However, it offers a range of workshops for specific skills and international experiences to supplement the course outside of the classroom. This gives students a broader perspective, which is ideal for students like Oya who have flexible plans.

Finding your life compass in the Master of Strategy and International Management

“The SIM is way more than just an academic program. It has a huge life focus,” Oya explains. “You really have the resources to self-reflect and look inside of yourself one step deeper. To really see ‘What do I want to accomplish in life and in my career? What is my life equation for happiness?’” (01:07)

One of the key elements of the SIM program is the opportunity to connect with other students and the SIM faculty. By bouncing ideas off others, you can gain the confidence and insights that can gradually fit together into a plan.

The school also offers a vast array of career services. The goal is to enable students to make informed choices aligned with their long-term career goals.

A community like no other: St.Gallen's tight-knit campus

The city of St. Gallen is a unique place, very different from Washington, D.C. where Oya grew up. It is surrounded by mountains, creating a cozy and homey atmosphere. Clearly, it isn’t the ideal place for those looking for a cosmopolitan city vibe, but Oya feels that the close, friendly community at St.Gallen is one of its strongest assets.

Despite its small size, the SIM program has a vastly diverse student body. As a Lebanese American with a background in French education, Oya fit in comfortably with the cohort of 52 students from 31 different nationalities. With such a varied array of perspectives on the program, the Master in Strategy and International Management offers more than straightforward course content. “We all have a very similar mindset and are open to learning from each other,” says Oya. “We’re all here to make very deep personal connections.” (02:20)

For Oya, SIM stands for “family” and “learning”, and the sharing of knowledge and experience continues after graduation too. St.Gallen boasts a thriving alumni network of more than 33,000 graduates. It organizes events worldwide and online, advertises jobs on an internal platform, and runs career-boosting courses.

The key to career success: fitting all the pieces together

In her time in the SIM program, Oya has gone from feeling lost in her career to uncovering her long-term compass. Her time at St.Gallen has opened up many doors, and Oya has developed massively through the course. From developing her business acumen and gaining internship experience to connecting with a robust network. “It’s a whirlwind of different experiences and people that completely open up your mind to an entirely new world.” (03:35)

If you’d like to hear more about the experience at one of Switzerland’s most prestigious institutions, you can speak to ex-students directly via the MASTERGRADSCHOOLS ambassador’s page.

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