Interview of Kai Hormann (first Academic Director of the programme)
What is the new MSc in Management & Informatics all about?
Every modern organization faces the problem of specialization: extremely talented managers work next to outstanding computer scientist, but they have a really hard time talking to each other. This new Master is designed to overcome this gap and to educate students with a background in both fields.
What makes this new Master programme so special and why should I choose to take it?
When I was a student of Mathematics and Informatics, the study programme was very much oriented towards theory. And although this kind of education is a good basis for a wide spectrum of careers, many of my study mates who started working in larger companies told me that they had a hard time in the beginning to learn thinking in a more business-oriented way. To put it bluntly, showing the existence of a solution to a problem is nice, but selling it is a totally different story. I wish these friends of mine would have had the chance to study instead our new Master in Management & Informatics. I am sure it would have been easier for them to adapt to the business environment.
Likewise, I believe that students who would otherwise follow a traditional programme in management or economics will benefit from this new Master, because they graduate with an increasingly important extra knowledge in information technology, which distinguishes them from their competitors during job hunting.
Could you mention the main strengths of the MSc in Management & Informatics offered at USI, compared to other similar Master's programmes?
The main strength of this Master at USI is its truly interdisciplinary approach, which is reflected by the fact that it is offered as a joint programme by the Faculty of Informatics and the Faculty of Economics. This guarantees that the programme was carefully designed with the expertise from both sides.
Moreover, due to its two different tracks in the first two semesters, one particularly tailored for students with a background in Informatics or similar, the other for students with a Bachelor degree in Economics or Management, this programme is open for a wide range of undergraduate students. In addition, this Master is taught exclusively in English, which is a valuable extra qualification when working for international companies.
What career opportunities are there for a graduate from the Master in Management & Informatics?
There is an increasing demand for graduates with a background at the interface between Management and Informatics by medium and large companies, as well as the public sector, both in Switzerland and abroad. So I believe the career opportunities are excellent in the near future and beyond. The particular job profiles range from project management to consulting, but I can also imagine some of our students taking the chance and using their acquired knowledge to come up with a successful start-up company.
What kind of skills and competencies should a student develop to start a successful career?
Besides the technical know-how, which is the foundation of any successful career, the most important competence is the ability to communicate. The best idea is worthless if nobody else understands it. The graduates of this Master programme are able to speak and understand the "language" of the management department in a company as well as that of the IT department, so as to successfully communicate at the interface between the two.
Professionals with this skill are required by many organizations in order to develop more efficient systems or products.
What do you appreciate about USI/ or what features make USI special?
USI is a small university with an excellent professor-to-student ratio and the advantage of getting to know everyone and everything quickly. Moreover, the faculties are truly international (e.g., in Informatics we have 20 professors from 10 different countries) and cover a wide range of interesting and up-to-date topics.
What aspects of Lugano do you like?
It goes without saying that Lugano is a a prime place to live, with the nearby lake and mountains and the Mediterranean climate and life style. I mean, some people spend lots of money to come here for their holidays! Hence, living and working here is a great privilege. Besides the spectacular scenery, Lugano also offers a large and diverse spectrum of cultural and sporting activities.
Is there any academic figure that especially inspires you?
Especially in the context of this Master, a name that comes to my mind is Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. To me, he is a prime example of someone who has the technological skills on the one hand to design and implement such a great Web 2.0 platform, and on the other hand knows about the essentials of Management so as to fully exploit the economic potential of this new web service.
What vision do you have for the future of the Master in Management & Informatics?
I believe that this Master will become very popular and will draw students from many different countries and backgrounds.
And I would not be surprised to see one of our graduates become as well-known as Mark Zuckerberg one day.