International weeks: “A once in a lifetime experience”

Is there a better place to organise an international week for the On-Campus track Digital Business elective than Silicon Valley? “I suppose not”, says Japanese Shizuka Pohl (45) currently working as Senior Fund Oversight Officer at Danske Invest in Luxembourg. “It was a truly impressive week because of our fantastic 13 nationalities-strong team, the vibrant digital business environment and entrepreneurship culture of Silicon Valley and the many interesting speakers.”

 

Students widely consider the international week as the highlight of their MBA journey, the icing on the cake, so to speak. Traditionally the international week is filled with lectures, interactive sessions, group assignments and of course entertainment, food and fun. This years’ editions were surrounded by uncertainty because of constantly changing travel restrictions and requirements. “We literally entered the US the very first day the border was opened for EU-tourists,” says Shizuka. “It was however wonderful to travel again. The week required a lot of preparation, but the reading material was very interesting, with lots of links to more interesting stuff, all very up-to-date and spot-on the digital transformation topic.”

Feeding your brain

Erik Vrijens (32), Policy Coordinator Smart Mobility at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Watermanagement looks back on an exiting week. “I felt relieved to break free after two years of home office, and it’s good to feed your brain in such an exciting location. Topics we elaborated on were for instance the different mindset on entrepreneurship, starting a business, failure and interpersonal skills. It was interesting to notice cultural differences in addressing the various topics.”

 

Shizuka and Erik agree that the most appealing session was the lecture of Andy Barkett, CTO of REX, who worked at Facebook, Google and the Republican Party. Shizuka: “He touched upon the tipping points in the history of digital business and its future. He had a true technical insight from both the private and the public sector.” Erik: “I experienced a very divers and interesting week. The first two days in the agricultural region of Davis (CA) we had sessions by doctors, veterinarians and health directors who talked about human and animal health. Then we were informed on the IT and corporate aspects and lastly on the strategic aspects.”

In the meantime, in Barcelona…

The On-Campus MBA Responsible Leadership & Sustainable elective was organised in Barcelona (instead of South-Africa due to the corona pandemic). “There’s something about Barcelona that just inspires creativity. Maybe it’s the vibrant cultural heritage, the maritime spirit, the lively streets, its cuisine and spice or the colourful façade of EADA school in the city centre. Being there and learning new insights was a truly inspiring and unique experience”, says Croatian Matija Posavec (31), living and working in Hamburg as Business Development Manager at Albis Distribution GmbH &Co.

Silent games

Hazal Demirci (31) from Turkey, working in Düsseldorf as senior manager at Vantage Towers. “It was amazing to travel again, especially to Barcelona where we had excellent weather, food and people. It was indeed an international week, considering we were with 16 people from 12 different countries with very diverse backgrounds. One of the sessions I especially remember is the cultural difference lecture in which we played card games in total silence. After every game we had to change tables, and every table had new rules. I noticed that each of us had a different perspective and way of communicating. I really enjoyed that the diversity of the group and this MBA learns us to quickly and efficiently adapt. This means that our mind is getting more flexible and open with diversity.”

 

How to become a better leader

“The topics that were discussed were quite diverse but all addressing the same focal point: how to become a better leader”, says Matija. “This included the theoretical framework and the discussions on team performance and motivation, conflict management, how to lead transformations, cultural diversity and negotiation strategies. All interesting topics, especially in today’s fast-paced world and in the light of having to cope with the effects of the global pandemic. The session that struck me the most was the one about leading transformations. It reinforced my belief in the necessity of knowing and onboarding the people in our organisation. You might be a visionary, but if you don’t get people on board, you won’t get results.”

MBA on a whole new level

All students look back on a great week, many took the opportunity to add a short vacation to their stay. What words come to mind looking back on the international week? Erik: “It brings the MBA to a whole new level.” “If I could do it again I would”, says Shizuka. “Many thanks to the fantastic staff, especially Prof. Rudolf Müller and MBA Captain Boris Blumberg and of course my fellow classmates.” Hazal: “The international week in Barcelona was a once in a lifetime experience! I learned, enjoyed, shared, connected and will never forget this week and my Amigos.” Matija summarizes the week in three words: “Inspiring, insightful and memorable.”

 

 

This article displays the student insights and experiences of our On-Campus MBA International Week modules of both electives. Our On-Campus track has an on campus learning format and is part of the executive modular part-time MaastrichtMBA programme. The programme has a Triple Crown accreditation and is aimed for professionals with at least 5 years of working experience.

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