Andreas Schaffer studied Applied Business Administration at AAU as well as Instrumental and Vocal Pedagogy at the Carinthian State Conservatory. He is now Director of the Gustav Mahler Musikschule Klagenfurt music school, as well as being a flautist and conductor of various ensembles. In an interview, he explains how he benefits from business administration as a musician, what he likes about his job in particular and why you should always have the courage to oppose other opinions and stand up for your own.
What did you study?
Applied Business Administration with a focus on Marketing, Controlling and Italian at AAU and Instrumental and Vocal Pedagogy at the Carinthian State Conservatory.
That’s an unusual combination. What influence has it had on your career and your current work?
Yes, you’re right. Even during my programme of study, everyone at uni and in the music world asked me: “Business administration and music – how do they fit together?” Today, however, I benefit tremendously from the combination. On the one hand, I work artistically as a musician myself – I am a flautist and conductor of numerous ensembles and orchestras. On the other hand, I need some elements of my business administration studies for my leadership role as Director of Musikschule Klagenfurt: employment law, industrial psychology, sociology, marketing, strategic planning, motivation, complaints management and so on. The thing that has really stayed with me from my programme of study is to analyse each problem first and then think about alternatives.
What is it that you like in particular about your job?
The thing I especially like is that no two days are the same. Sometimes I teach, sometimes I sit in on other tuition sessions. Musikschule Klagenfurt is the largest music school in Carinthia. We have 60 teachers who look after more than 1800 students. Problem solving is something I deal with every day in running our school and I hold a lot of meetings with students, parents and colleagues. My diploma dissertation was on ‘Quality of Service’ and I make use of it almost every day. However, I feel especially privileged because my career means both work and pleasure for me.
Are there situations where you think back to your programme of study?
I have a constant sense of déjà-vu. Situations from back then come to mind time and again. For example, we were often told that the level of entrepreneurship in Carinthia was too low. Although I haven’t established my own business, there is no denying that I have a general urge to shape things actively and to change the status quo.
Do you have any anecdotes from your student days?
Yes, I’ve got a funny one. In one of my first courses, Prof. Robert Rebhahn from the Law department said, “University is one of the biggest marriage markets in Austria. But that shouldn’t be the only reason why you do a degree!”
Do you still have links with AAU now?
Sometimes there are guest lectures which I attend, and some musicians from the academic world play in the symphony orchestra I conduct.
What advice would you give today’s students for the future?
Completing a degree is part of becoming qualified. But a CV should also show different kinds of education, which definitely includes trips abroad and foreign languages. You also need to have the courage to oppose other opinions, and different schools of thought.
What do you miss about your student days (at AAU)?
I’m not really one for nostalgia; I like to move forwards.
- A happy moment at AAU was… my graduation ceremony
- What have you kept from your student days? Pretty much all of my books and notes
- Who inspired you? Some professors and guest lecturers
- Your programme of study in four words: It has paid off!