By Catherine Kennedy ’22
Christoph Wallner’s journey from Germany to Los Angeles is as original as it is inspiring. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, Chris was recruited by the LMU men’s cross country team, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he couldn’t turn down.
Now a scholar-athlete with a 4.0 GPA, Chris is pursuing an M.S. in Systems Engineering and an MBA as part of a dual-degree program that prepares engineering professionals for leadership positions in high tech companies. He chose to get his MBA because of LMU’s strong reputation in entrepreneurship and international focus. After completing a full year of systems engineering courses, Chris is excited to begin his MBA coursework this fall.
“I wanted to build upon my technical education and focus more on the big picture,” said Chris. “I’m looking forward to meeting my new classmates and professors and gaining exposure to their diverse backgrounds, industries and experiences.”
He’s also hoping to lead the LMU men’s cross country team to a NCAA national championship. In fact, Chris is always looking for opportunities to hone his leadership skills outside of the technical sciences. As a spokesperson for athletes at his local running club and a member of their executive board, Chris discovered a passion for working with people.
“Through organizing track and field events, negotiating and dealing with sponsors, and working as a student intern, I discovered a passion for business and a desire to make an impact,” said Chris.
Before he returns to LMU in the fall, Chris is spending the summer interning at Mercedes-Benz in Berlin within their innovative special-project department titled “Retail of the Future.” He is extremely excited about the position and expects to gain new knowledge and skills that he can apply to his MBA classes.
“We’re working to transfer Mercedes-Benz’s sales operations into a new model to streamline the sales process,” said Chris, who previously interned with Porsche. “A lot of departments are involved and there are so many systems, interfaces and components to align – basically a big systems engineering problem in an MBA environment.”
Chris has learned that working well with a team, having empathy and getting along with people is a huge part of being successful in business. He is always happy to share other lessons he’s learned.
“My career path is not typical. I chose to come to the US, which is a big deal as I will be away from home for two years or more. But my advice is to be brave, be prepared and don’t always choose the most convenient path. Never say no to opportunities, because you never know where they’ll lead you. Meeting people, collecting experiences and traveling the world have given me a greater perspective on life and have made me a better leader.”