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Alumnus of the month of July 2013

Oliver Stahl, who graduated from the Master of Advanced Studies in Business Administration, is delighted by the creative learning atmosphere and the close contact to the lecturers at the University of Liechtenstein. Today the entrepreneur successfully runs Snack- und Früchtebox Express and is pursuing his Executive MBA in parallel.

“I have everything I need here.”

Oliver Stahl, who graduated from the Master of Advanced Studies in Business Administration continuing education programme in 2012, is delighted by the creative learning atmosphere and the close contact to the lecturers at the University of Liechtenstein. Today the entrepreneur successfully runs Snack- und Früchtebox Express in Bendern, Liechtenstein, and is pursuing his Executive MBA in parallel.

Oliver Stahl, in 2009 you started your own business called Snackbox Express. What exactly was your business concept?
We offer large and small snack boxes containing 130 and 70 sweet, salty and healthy snacks respectively. We deliver these to our customers at their workplace and also replace them on a regular basis.

How much of a risk were you taking back then? 
To start with, my business partner and I wanted to test how our idea would be received by potential customers in Liechtenstein and Eastern Switzerland. The feedback after the test phase was extraordinarily good, so we had no worries about launching Snackbox Express in 2009.

Six months after launching Snackbox Express, you signed up for the Master of Advanced Studies in Business Administration at the University of Liechtenstein. Why?
As time went on, I found I was able to manage the company and that I had a good relationship with our customers and our staff. However, the accounting side of things was a source of frustration for me. In other words: How could I systematically document the changing value of the company? How could I calculate the profit from these figures? How should operational statistics look – what makes sense and what doesn’t?




Is a Master’s degree necessary for that?
There were also other, completely different questions involved, for example: What is a marketing mix? And what do I need it for? How do I build a close relationship with my customers? All these aspects are best compressed into and covered by a Master’s degree in Business Administration. And so I started looking for a suitable educational establishment in the region.

... and ended up at the University of Liechtenstein.

Back then, what is today known as the University of Liechtenstein was still called Hochschule Liechtenstein. Local proximity only played a subordinate role. The educational programme was much more important to me. And it was precisely this continuing education programme from the University of Liechtenstein – with its scope and the time involved – which seemed to be tailor-made for me.

How did you manage working and studying at the same time?
The lectures and modules always took place on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Completion of the degree programme involved passing several exams and creating a sophisticated business plan for one’s own company. I completed the course last year.

But you haven’t left the University of Liechtenstein completely.
That’s correct. In February of this year I started the follow-on programme, the two-semester Executive MBA. This entails one semester of lectures and seminars and one semester writing a Master’s thesis. Here I want to place the focus on customer care, i.e. customer relationship management in our company. Later on, I can apply the insights gained to Snack- und Früchtebox Express.

What exactly do you find interesting about it?

Currently I cater for a total of more than 1,000 customers in Liechtenstein, Eastern Switzerland and Zurich. What interests me is: How can I satisfy each customer? How do I build and maintain a close relationship with my customers? I want to have my Master’s thesis successfully completed by February 2014.




How much does your MBA help you in your daily business?

I’m grateful for the theoretical background. Of course, the theory does not always fully translate into practice. However, there have certainly been quite a few situations where I was able to draw on the knowledge I have gained.

What situations come to mind?
This year we were rather late with our tax return. My accountant and I met early in the morning and went through the figures. There was one figure that I just didn’t understand, and I asked her whether it shouldn’t be subtracted instead of added – and she agreed that I was right. It’s in moments like these that I am very thankful for the thorough training. 

How would you describe the atmosphere at the university?

The staff-student ratio at the University of Liechtenstein is very good. There is a creative learning atmosphere, where it is possible to build a good relationship with the lecturers and fellow students. Networking also plays a large role. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have imagined studying here. That feeling is long gone.

What would have stopped you 10 years ago?

When you’re young, you want to discover the big wide world. Today, I still want to, but I can do it in my free time. I have everything I need here. In fact, the degree programme has generated some great synergies for new projects.

Can you provide us with an example?
A while ago, I was asked whether a few business administration students could develop a reporting/controlling tool for our company. I was happy to support the students in this project and was very impressed with the results. So one thing can lead to another.


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Oliver Stahl 

(born 1976) is the Managing Director of Snack- und Früchtebox Express AG in Bendern, Liechtenstein. The company currently has 10 employees. After finishing school, Oliver Stahl did casual work in France for a year and a half, before studying French and History at the University of Fribourg. He then worked as a French teacher at the MPA Berufs- und Handelsschule (Vocational Business School) and the International School Rheintal in Buchs. 

In 2009, he founded Snackbox Express. A year later he founded Früchtebox Express. In 2012, he completed his Master of Advanced Studies in Business Administration degree at the University of Liechtenstein.


Websites
www.fruechtebox-express.com
www.snackbox-express.com

Snack- und Früchtebox Express on TV
– Cash-TV (SF2, 13 November 2011): www.videoportal.sf.tv/video?id=74f54354-8139-474a-811c-e87e221f7252
– Sara machts: www.saramachts.tv/sendung.php?id=332