Master’s student portrait finance

February 13, 2024 •

4 min reading

Student profiles: Jeanne Schlaefli dives into finance

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In an exciting new series of our Alumni Network Podcast we chat to EHL graduates who embarked on a bachelor’s adventure at EHL and then pursued master’s degrees across the globe.

Here’s a taster of the latest episode with Jeanne Schlaefli. After graduating from EHL in 2019, Jeanne went on to do a second bachelor’s and then a Master of Arts in Accounting and Corporate Finance, both at the University of St. Gallen (HSG). She is now a senior consultant at EY Switzerland.


A long-held goal

Even before she embarked on her bachelor’s at EHL, Jeanne Schlaefli always intended to do a master’s degree at the University of St. Gallen (HSG), a place she calls “a very special university”. However, her fascination with the hotel industry and her desire to study in an international environment led her to take her bachelor’s at EHL first. Afterwards, she returned to her ultimate goal of pursuing a master’s at HSG, however entry to the program required her to complete two years of a second bachelor’s degree, a big undertaking that she didn’t take on lightly.


What was the advantage of going to EHL first instead of simply doing your bachelor’s at HSG?

“For me, doing this bachelor's degree at EHL really made me grow personally, but of course also professionally. I wouldn't have been able to manage University of St. Gallen in a way that I did without the bachelor's degree at EHL. I think the reason for that is obviously the international context. You really learn how to work with different people in different environments. Also, not saying that EHL is high pressure, but sometimes there are stressful deadlines, a lot of group work that you need to manage. The same is true for University of St. Gallen, and having had this experience, I was much more self-confident, and knew that I was able to manage this.”


How much flexibility was there to tailor the courses at HSG to your particular career aims?

“You can already specialize in your bachelor's degree, whether you would like to lean more towards HR, more towards finance, strategy, marketing. Then in the master’s degree, it's even more flexible. There are only three compulsory courses, and the rest is all your choice. I would say in accounting and corporate finance there's one career path that you can take that's more towards the Chief Financial Officer role. They offer a lot of courses in that direction. But there's also a lot of students that would like to pursue a career in consulting or maybe investment banking or something similar. They also have a lot of courses that go a bit more into that direction. Or you can say, ‘I don't know where I'd like to go yet’, and just choose a different set of courses each semester.”

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You were already working at EY while doing your master’s – how did that influence you?

“I wanted to obviously take courses that deepened my knowledge in that field. But also, maybe when you start working you're already quite deep into one topic, and then it also makes sense to broaden your horizons a little bit. I did a mix of both; I did a lot of courses on financing, mergers and acquisitions, but then I've also taken a course in auditing, just to understand what other people do.”

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What was it like studying alongside working?

“Definitely one of the most beneficial things I've done in my life. I think I've grown immensely in the past two years just as a person, but also as a professional. But yes, of course, it's quite tough to really set your focus every day. Maybe within half a day you need to refocus between work and studies. You need to set priorities.


What’s your advice to EHL students considering a master’s at HSG?

“Don't be scared and don't think about it too long. I think when there is truly the wish for doing a master’s at University of St. Gallen, then just go and do it. It will be a long road, yes, but I had to think about it without knowing that I will be working next to my master’s, and now it all worked out exactly the way that I wanted it to work out. So don't be scared of the time that lies ahead of you because there will be so many doors that open along the way.”


What’s your biggest wish for your career?

“I would like to motivate more women to go into finance.”


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“It was a challenging decision. But once I did take the decision, I was really happy with it, and I'm still very happy with it. I think both [bachelor’s] degrees had their own value towards my career and my personal life.”
Jeanne Schlaefli, Senior Consultant M&A Lead Advisory at EY
So it's really difficult, especially in the beginning, to really understand where do I need to be now and where do I need to set my focus now? But I think this ability that I've created in the past two years will be invaluable to my professional career.”