German native finds a new family at Daniels

Simon Heid feature

Simon Heid

Simon Heid has wanted to return to the U.S. since 2014, when he was a high school exchange student in Oregon. The German native left Mainz for Denver in September 2022 and hasn’t looked back. At the University of Denver, he found more than just a challenging, innovative master’s program. He found “a family” at the Daniels College of Business.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to combine doing my MBA with study abroad in the U.S.,” Heid said. “I’m in the full-time, on-campus Denver MBA program. Everything is in person, which was very important for me.”

Between his U.S. stints, Heid participated in a dual-study program in Germany. While earning a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from DHBW Heilbronn, he worked at Europe’s largest retailer, Lidl. After graduation, he became a district manager for Lidl and worked there for two additional years.

“The experience I had with Lidl was awesome. I was able to grow into a management position with employees and revenue I was responsible for. The most important characteristics in that role were being a good communicator, being ambitious and being well-organized. And Daniels helps me to further develop those skills,” Heid said.

When researching master’s programs, Heid was intrigued by Daniels’ challenge-driven MBA program that would offer him the opportunity to create a startup company, incubate a social good project and solve business issues—all while he earns his degree. He liked what he learned about the University of Denver, the faculty and the campus.

His transition to the U.S. has been challenging, but has many positives. Heid enjoys the variety of barbecue and Mexican food the region offers. But first, he had to manage the logistics of moving 5,000 miles from home.

“You need to organize before moving to a city you’ve never been to before, figure out health insurance and the whole visa process. It’s difficult and sometimes challenging because it is very bureaucratic,” he said. “Of course, leaving your family, friends and job behind is another challenge. But what really helps is this great community here. At international student get-togethers, we talk about different challenges we all face and how we can get over them.”

The onboarding process with his MBA cohort helped Heid find his footing when he first arrived at DU. As a group, they spent three days at The Nature Place in Florissant, Colorado.

“We hiked together, did rock climbing and, with compasses, we tried to find a way through the forest. It was all about making each other stronger, not being better than somebody else. That’s very special, especially for a business school,” Heid said.

The momentum carried into his first quarter at Daniels. Some of the academic highlights were a strategic leadership class taught by Teaching Associate Professor Lowell Valencia-Miller, Professor Lorenzo Patelli’s accounting class and many networking events.

Heid’s previous time in the U.S. has helped him avoid a huge culture shock, but there were surprises.

“In Germany, we have better infrastructure in the public transportation sector. Denver is about the size of Berlin, where you have a fabulous public transportation. If you want to go to Boulder, it’s nearly impossible without spending two hours one-way. And I was shocked to see so many people living on the streets in Denver,” Heid said.

He’s turning that shock into action as part of the Entrepreneurship Challenge, the first of four core business challenges in the Denver MBA program curriculum. Heid’s team took on homelessness and is preparing to present a potential solution.

Next summer, Heid will intern at the KPMG in Frankfurt, Germany. He secured the role with the help of Daniels Career Services. Lynn Rooney, the associate director and a career coach, guided him to improve his resume, successfully interview and network.

In the meantime, he’s eager to explore Denver and the Rocky Mountains.

“Denver is a diverse city with all different kinds of nationalities, which makes it so fun. We have a beautiful campus, great professors and the Rocky Mountains nearby,” Heid said. “I would definitely choose to come here again. I’ve never regretted it for even an hour. Daniels feels kind of like a big family where we’re all about making each other stronger.”