Local business degrees get jobs

  • 1999-07-08
  • Anna Hanks
TALLINN - In corporate Estonia it isn't necessary to have a graduate degree in business. But it helps. And depending on who you talk to, having a master's in business administration from an Estonian university may be even better.

"Probably, even though Estonia is different from other transitional economies, an MBA from another transitional economy is more relevant for similar economies than one earned elsewhere," said Chris Lemke, director of the Foreign Language Institute for the Estonian Business School. Lemke thinks that unless the degree was granted from a particularly prestigious foreign institution, that a degree from an Estonian university is best.

"My guess would be that unless it is a prestigious name-Chicago, Stanford, Kellogg-that otherwise it probably would be more attractive to have someone who has studied here and knows the Estonian legal and market conditions."

According to Marini Birova of the Ministry of Education, there are four Estonian universities that offer MBA degrees. Of these four schools, two are public and two are private. The two public institutions are Tallinn Technical University and the University of Tartu. The private institutions are Concordia and the Estonian Business School. In the world of Estonian corporate hiring, the MBA degree is an asset, but perhaps more so with foreign employers than with Estonian employers. "If one is working for a local employer, it is results that matter," said Kiira Kure, human resources director for Cola-Cola Beverages Eesti. Kure earned her MBA in 1998 from the Estonian Business School. "For everyday, it is not so practical as something you learn to do with your hands, like welding. But it expands your understanding of business life."

But not all foreign companies follow the same pattern of MBA hiring. Some companies grow their own MBAs rather than hire them from outside. For example, Ericsson Eesti, the Estonian branch of the Swedish telecommunications company, generally doesn't hire people based on MBAs.

"We usually recruit people with a technical background. We get students who are three or four years into their studies. We then provide topics for diploma papers," said Mall Kohv, head of human resources for Ericsson Eesti. It is not uncommon for employers in Estonia to pay for their employees to attend MBA programs.

"It depends on the person, and how strategically important they are for us. At Ericsson we support learning very much." said Kohv. "We give them vacation time if they need it."

Kohv said of the approximately 60 people at Ericsson Eesti, 10 of them either have master's degrees or are studying for them. "Estonian companies are sending people for MBAs and paying," said Kure of Coca Cola.