Distance Learning Abroad: A degree in a digitalised country

Thanks to the IUBH Distance Learning MBA degree programme Heiko could fulfil his dream of living abroad: in 2017 he went to Sweden with his family, where this year he also finished his degree programme. At the same time, there was a job promotion. And a bunch of unexpected cultural differences.


For many years, my wife and I have played with the idea of living overseas. This fell to the wayside after both our daughters were born, but quickly came back to the forefront when my employer created new career opportunities abroad as a result of restructuring the business. I was offered the chance to take over personnel responsibilities and go to Sweden as Senior Manager in Account Management. We did not think twice about it, even though at this point I was still in the middle of my MBA programme at IUBH.


bicycle parking in a Swedish coffee bar

bicycle parking in a Swedish coffee bar

Equal rights and transparency: Top in Sweden

In the summer of 2017, the four of us moved from Germany to Stockholm with only a vague idea of what to expect. Sweden seemed to be very similar to Germany. In reality, there are many differences. The outstanding childcare in Sweden is almost proverbial. Part of this is a basic understanding that parents are not better than their children are, and accordingly, from the very start, children are brought up with respect and self-responsibility. As a family father, I think this a great concept. The equal rights of men and women is daily practice here: most public toilets are not separated by gender and fathers with prams are a common sight on the streets of Stockholm during normal office hours. Equal rights are also a part of daily life in companies: hierarchies have very little importance. Even the boss takes on tasks such as the rotating duties in the kitchen. This corresponds to a strong support for the individual. The Swedish federal financial aid for education, for example, is calculated independently of parents’ income.

What impressed me the most was the advanced progress and status of digitalisation in Sweden. It seems to me that the high level of transparency with personal data helps provide digital and personal services. Among other things, one’s address, date of birth and even the amount of one’s taxable income are mutually accessible to all residents living in Sweden.

SwedenCash-free payment anywhere, anytime

The resulting benefits are endless: although there are still parking metres in the city, we pay for our parking space only with a smartphone app from which one can extend or end the parking time without having to run back to the car. The billing is minute-based. I especially like banking with the smartphone. I can make transfers in 5 seconds, without even entering a single character manually: scan the invoice with the app, confirm by clicking a button three times, done. In short, cash is no longer common in Sweden. If you cannot pay with an app, you can pay with a credit card, even for a chocolate bar at a kiosk. The only reason I still need cash is for our daughters’ pocket money, since both of them do not yet have a smartphone or credit card.

Flexible and digital on the road to academic success

The fact that I have successfully completed my MBA despite my job and my family, is due, above all, to the flexible learning opportunities, motivated teachers and practical relevance of course content at IUBH. To complete my degree programme I did not even have to travel back to Germany. This demonstrate how digitalised and flexible the university is. Somehow a bit Swedish. J Thanks to the MBA programme, I am now able to grasp matters in a more structured way and generate more targeted solutions. The course work also helped me to improve my communication with customers and staff. The internationally recognised degree is a great benefit to me in our globalised economy and I think it played a role in my getting a recommendation for a job promotion. Nevertheless, I certainly would not have made it through without the support of my wife.  Throughout my studies, and without interruption, she gave me the strength and encouragement I needed.

Whether we want to stay in Sweden is not yet up for discussion since my overseas contract still runs for another two years. What we then decide together as a family, is still in the northern lights, but we cannot see them in Stockholm. So, things remain exciting for us and that is good.


Heiko is 46 years old and a native of Recklinghausen. This year, he completed the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme at IUBH Distance Learning. He enjoys spending his free time jogging, cooking and singing karaoke.

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