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Student Spotlight: Demian Gass

Born in Germany, Demian Gass spent the first five years of his life in Switzerland before his family emigrated to Zambia in 1999. He currently lives in the capital city, Lusaka, and is enrolled in ACU Online’s Master of Science in Management (MSM) program.

While earning his Bachelor of Science in Integrated Environmental Studies at Jacobs University Bremen, Germany, Demian “became fascinated with the positive impact a business can have in society. I realized I wanted to be at the intersection between business and technology. However, to better understand the business stakeholder(s), I needed a business education that focused on people,” he recalls.

Finding His Way to ACU

In May 2017 when Demian was about to graduate from Jacobs University, his sister was studying at ACU. He recounts, “Before my graduation, I was already looking to enroll in ACU Online’s MSM program. My interaction with the admission advisor demonstrated ACU Online’s focus on people.” Additionally, Demian valued that the MSM program is AACSB-accredited and therefore, academically rigorous.

When asked if ACU’s faith-based environment was important to him, Demian shares, “Over the years, my faith became more important as I began to see the need for it in my life. It helps me to focus on what is necessary and keeps me in line with what is most important in life.”

Demian began the Management graduate program in August 2017, three months after earning his undergraduate degree. He finished all of his MSM core courses in June 2019. But Demian’s not stopping there. “I’m part of the MSM-to-MBA bridge program, so I’ll remain a student until I’ve fulfilled the MBA admission requirements. I aim to finish my MBA courses by the end of 2020,” he states.

An Important Internship Inspires Demian’s Career Goals

In 2018, an 8-month-long internship for Haufe-umantis in St. Gallen, Switzerland provided Demian with the chance to balance working full-time and studying simultaneously. It also helped him solidify his career focus.

“I had the opportunity to join a talented team,” Demian says, “and explore the many areas of product management for a software company. I’ve had a fascination for technology for as long I can remember. It just so happened that I joined the company at a pivotal time, as they were looking to build their next-generation product, People.OS. The system would enable companies to understand their organization and employees in order to most effectively navigate the increasingly unpredictable world.”

Demian explains, “I joined a team in Stuttgart to help them develop solutions for a client. Once we had developed a click dummy, I had the chance to lead a part of the prototype-testing phase with the various end-users. I enjoyed it so much that I want to focus my career on being at the intersection between people and technology.”

Demian’s Experience as an Online Graduate Student

The experience at Haufe-umantis was invaluable for Demian as it reinforced what he was learning in his MSM program. “Being a student at ACU Online gave me the opportunity to not only study business concepts, but apply what I was learning in the workplace. Additionally, the flexibility of the online environment allowed me to study on my own schedule while taking advantage of the freedom to work full-time.”

Demian asserts that, ultimately, the faculty and staff of ACU Online have been the highlights of his experience thus far. “It’s so amazing to see what impact ACU’s professors have on a global and local scale. For the longest time, I dreaded having to do the MSM accounting course. But the professor and my facilitator made it one of my best performing and enjoyable courses.”

He continues, “One thing is clear—the faculty and staff of ACU Online are gifted and have found their vocation. My student services advisors were always available for me every time I needed them. My advisors helped me grow both academically and personally during my studies and beyond. I am eternally grateful for the time they invested in me and the friendships that grew out of those interactions.”

Demian found the challenging coursework he was seeking as well as the vocational support he wanted. “Not only does ACU teach a lot of material, but they also provide an environment where you can develop your own impact and value-oriented management identity. Through this process, I’ve discovered that it is my mission to bring about meaningful change. More specifically, I want to bring people and technology closer together in more meaningful ways.”

When asked if he felt learning online from such a distance posed any problems for him, Demian replies, “In many cases, my relationships with my professors and facilitators were much closer than to the professors at a physical undergraduate university. In my experience, the professor engagement at ACU Online is fantastic. This environment helped me to focus on performing and learning well in my courses.”

What Does the Future Hold for Demian Gass?

Demian reflects on how he sees his studies supporting his career goals. “The ACU Online degree will help to strengthen my business acumen and credibility. Furthermore, it will open more doors for me to apply myself in a variety of different business environments. Ultimately, my MSM degree will enable me to understand each stakeholder (users, employees, management, investors, etc.).”

With an eye toward working abroad “as it presently offers better opportunities that push me forward both professionally and personally,” Demian is pursuing his MBA with determination and confidence.

In closing, Demian expresses gratitude for everyone who’s helped him along the way. “I would like to thank my family for supporting me through my studies and for giving me this opportunity to study. I would also like to thank the ACU faculty and staff for all their time and effort that they have provided me over the past two years.

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