Faculty spotlight: 15 questions to Prof. Jacky Baltes

Today in conversation with Prof. Jacky Baltes, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg (Canada) and faculty member of the MSc Program Engineering Management

What do you think is special about the master program?
The EM program presents relevant and challenging topics from the unique perspective of both technology and management.

To what extent do you think distinguishes the postgraduate studies at TU Vienna from other programs?
Traditionally, programs usually focus on either the technological aspects or the business aspects of different methodologies. The EM program exposes students to both views and thus makes them better prepared to deal with issues from different view points.

What is so special about a postgraduate program?
A postgraduate degree presents students with the opportunity to develop deep expertise in several relevant and challenging topics. They can develop their technical and analytical skills as well as their understanding of business processes.

What can you tell future students about the program?
Students should obviously be highly motivated to enter a challenging program such as this. However, I also think it is important to use this opportunity to network and get to know your fellow students. Your fellow students can help, encourage, and provide insight from their perspective not only during the time of your studies, but also during the rest of your career.

What are the key aspects of your lecture?
I focus on two or three important technological problems whose solutions methodologies are widely applicable. I include analysis of these methodologies from a business perspective.

What is the special challenge of teaching in a postgraduate program?
The greatest challenge is to adapt the course content to the wide variety of backgrounds of the students to make it meaningful and relevant to them.

Which (innovative) methods of teaching do you use?
I focus on solving analysis and similar problems in business and management using programming.

How would you describe the students of this program?
Most of the participants have successfully established themselves in their career, but are looking to enhance their skills and knowledge to attack new challenges. The student body is highly motivated,

Do you also somehow benefit from teaching postgraduate students?
It is interesting to interact with students that have already a solid career path and to see their viewpoint on topics of current interest in the technological and business fields.

How is the contact with the students?
The time frame of the program is highly compressed, since many students are working full time. In spite of this, the high stress environment makes it easier for students to connect with each other and the professor.

What do you think are the prospects of graduates on the (international) labor market?
Most of the graduates have already a proven track record of technical experience, but are expanding their career options by including a business perspective. This rare combination will make them highly desirable for companies that are looking for people that judge the business impact of their technical work.

Women and Technology – which advice could you give interested females?
Women are discouraged from technical fields in some cultures. This has no basis in female’s technical skills, abilities, and aptitudes. You should not let the expectations of others limit your dreams and desires.

Is the content of the course applicable internationally?
The student body and the professors all have a very diverse background, so the content are clearly internationally applicable.

Do you think this postgraduate program is internationally recognized?
I believe that the TU Wien in general has a good international reputation.

An economic education at a technical university - what do you think?
I believe that this is a timely and important initiative. One of the most common reasons cited by companies for the failure of software projects is that software developers lacked an understanding of the repercussions of their technical decisions on the business side.

(Interview of October 21, 2013)

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