Sebastian Flatau

Sebastian graduated from the MSc in Architectural Project Management with distinction in 2013. As chief architect he now leads a design team on a complex retail and office project in the heart of Hamburg.

Can you tell us about your current job?

I work as a chief architect / project manager for one of the largest architecture offices in Germany – GMP (von Gerkan, Marg and Partner). After working as a junior project manager on a large airport project in Frankfurt, I’m currently leading a design team in a complex retail and office project. The project is located in the absolute centre of Hamburg and includes conservational issues as well as highly complex technical solutions due to the location in the dense and historic city entre context.

Why did you decide to study Architectural Project Management at Heriot-Watt over other places offering similar programmes?

I chose this programme because I wanted to keep working full-time in the office and Independent Distance Learning (IDL) provided the necessary flexibility. I had just been working for about 2 years when I decided that I needed additional academic training to understand many of the virulent explicit and non-explicit issues I experienced during my work on architectural mega-projects. I did not want to stop the valuable learning on the actual job while gaining the necessary academic training. There was no comparable programme available in Germany.

What was your experience of doing a postgraduate degree at Heriot-Watt University?

After having spent a year in the US and a year in Argentina during my academic career, I enjoyed the intercultural aspects of studying at a British university. Many issues and theories are looked at differently than in Germany which enabled me to gain a critical and profound view on the building industry at home. Although IDL is an ambitious form of studying that demands a high level of discipline from the student, I found the flexibility in course and exam structures that I was hoping for when choosing this programme. I enjoyed the valuable academic dialogue with professors and staff.

Do you think your Heriot-Watt postgraduate experience gave you an edge in your chosen field and why?

The studies improved my technical and managerial skills for international building projects as well as large and complex project structures. In my experience it is often the project team that can lead a project to success or failure – well trained personnel is looked for by planning firms, contractor and clients. The possibility to now register with the RICS is another benefit to me.

What advice would you give to a postgraduate student considering embarking on their studies at Heriot-Watt?

As mentioned above, the student needs to have a precise intention on what he/she wants to achieve when choosing the IDL route and already bring the basic academic skills learnt on a traditionally taught first degree. I would encourage IDL students to visit the campus and meet staff during the first semesters to break the ground for an efficient online learning and communication.