Such lovely weather and such lovely things, as observed by a commuter from the suburbs

I can see green grass everywhere now – with some yellow and brown leaves in between and pink and white flowers on the side – and it makes me smile, wide. The once cold and dry ride from Rockville, MD to Tenleytown, DC has inconspicuously turned into a beautiful escape I look forward to everyday. I think there’s nothing quite like the nature of nature – ever changing, abrupt, lovely yet dangerous, and the DC metro area roads definitely have one of the most scenic botanical topography for the suburban commuter. For any AU prospective student or anyone looking to move next year, I highly recommend exploring the greater metro area, especially if you drive. My recent relocation to a new place has been nothing short of great.

With AU’s great geographic and meteorological position, I was thrilled to learn about the launch of the new Master’s Degree in Sustainability Management. I truly believe that the risks and rewards resulted from the environment will dictate the financial future of our generation. Mother Nature giveth, Mother Nature taketh. We’ve been brutally hit by natural disasters one after another in the past few years, as the depletion of natural resources continues at an accelerated rate. A friend laughed hard when I recently told her I am a “parks and mountains” type of person. But, I can’t help but think about the impact of my energy consumption every time I reluctantly pay for the bolting gas price to fill up my economical 2001 Corolla after I hit the I-270, I-495 or my favorite route MD 355.

The onset of the lovely weather has also stimulated my social life in the past month. It’s amazing how weather impacts my mood. I confess I have been somewhat anti-social during the first three months of the semester, primarily due to the cold weather (it is a good 20-30 minute drive to DC), work, and relocation (may I add HW?). The impact of de-socializing has been so significant for a social butterfly like me. I miss the stories I had intended to collect in between the intersections of Kogod hallways as I mentioned in my last blog. I felt a large vacuum in a very important part of my life.

In the past month, I signed up as an Admission Ambassador for the MSA program and I am already listening to a whole new set of stories from the incoming students. I attended a “Dish with the Dean” event where I got to meet Dean Durand personally for the first time. The interaction with my fellow students and Dean Durand elated my student experience at Kogod to another level.

I taught myself to not head straight to the Katzen parking lot after class. Instead, I have learned to look up events taking place on campus in the evening. Separating from the MBA crowd has definitely compelled me to re-think my socialization strategy.

Attending Graduate Business Association events in the evenings has also helped me reconnect with my peers. I am also making a conscious effort to change and re-adjust as a commuter from the suburbs and it has worked out perfectly. Completely unplanned, the semester is winding down on a beautiful note (so far).

As all of us are wrapping up the semester, I hope the summer brings in gentle waves of luck for each one of us as we embark on our internships or jobs; and joy for our lazy summer days with lots of lager beer around a pool; or whatever else we may find interesting.

Signing off, Sudipa

Global Innovation: Paris and Prague

 

Global Innovation at the L'Oreal Plant in Paris

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend their spring break in a classroom. Unless that classroom is in Paris.

When I signed up for the IBUS course on Global Innovation, I did so for a few reasons. First, the class is the only at Kogod’s international business department that has a European focus (the subject of my undergrad degree). Second, the course includes travel. Third, travel meant spending spring break and Paris and Prague.

We all know that one of the highlights of Kogod is the international atmosphere here, which is augmented by the many opportunities to take short study trips abroad. Whether it’s Brazil, China, Argentina, South Korea, or Europe, twice (or even three times) a year you can take a class that not only teaches you about doing business in a foreign country, but actually exposes you to engaging with business in that country.

For me, going to Paris felt like it would be a homecoming. Having spent all of my life since age five studying French, all of my college years studying French history and language, and four months living abroad in Paris, I felt like the first leg of the trip would be a piece of cake.

How very wrong I was.

Seeing Paris with Professor Tomasz Mroczkowski was like seeing an entirely new Paris for the very first time. Our group of 22 — mixed full-time/part-time MBAs, SIS grads, SOC grads, and some undergrads — was folded into the renowned European business school, ESCP. Apart from taking class with incredible professors, we went on a whirlwind tour of French companies to study innovation at France Telecom, NYSE Euronext, and finally, L’Oreal. By the end of the trip I was exhausted (and craving steak frites), but ready for more in the Eastern European city of Prague.

Having never been to Prague, I first thought I would be completely lost. I didn’t know a word of Czech (I now know how to say hello, please, thank you, beer, and water), and I certainly didn’t know the city like I did Paris. But Prague exceeded my expectations, and quickly took the top spot in my personal list of most beautiful cities. The academic portion was incredibly enlightening, and extraordinarily impressive. Our meetings were with the leaders of each featured company: the directors of strategy for the Czech energy company Cez; marketing, customer service, and PR executives of Vodafone Czech Republic; the leader of the US Commercial Service in Prague; and the CEO of GE-Walter Aviation.

Despite moments of exhaustion (it’s amazing how much you can fit into a day…), the trip was constantly eye-opening, and incredibly inspiring. Now back in class in DC, I find myself many steps ahead of where I was before the trip. The exposure to different cultures’ approach to business has changed the way I think about business, and has made me able to take the theories in class at Kogod and synthesize them in a way I hadn’t been able to before.

So in short, spending all of spring break in a class room wasn’t half bad. Let’s put it this way: I want to do it all over again.

 

 

Stories of our lives

Spring Break, and I finally have time to make the numerous phone calls I need to make. The pace of life is hectic, unbelievably hectic. The parents 7000 miles away try to comprehend my art of routine management but the lines I sketch via the Skype calls somehow never give them a clear picture. My brothers do a better job of understanding and relating. I miss them yet again in between the deep sighs I manage to take in between expectations and deadlines. Such is life at times for a first year graduate student at Kogod.

NOW, don’t get disheartened J, the adjective I am trying to get to here is “intense”. I cannot emphasize how critical time is at this particular phase in our lives. Naturally, there is so much to absorb through the course works and the discussions in class. However, I specifically cherish the exchange of ideas outside the partitions of the textbooks and the tedium of power point slides. I somehow manage to steal time from myself to catch up with people because I like to listen to stories from different intersections of life; and this is probably one of the most valuable aspects of being a student at Kogod. Despite being one of the smaller business schools in the DC area, Kogod surprises me with its supply of a highly diverse student body, a true reflection of how the world is shrinking. The stories from China, Thailand, Colombia, Armenia, and Bangladesh are riveting. The next day, the stories from Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida entertain me equally.

So, with the onset of the second half of the remaining first semester, I hope to listen to the other stories that float at Kogod and I hope to share mine. I mean, one of the first things we learned here was the elevator pitch, which in itself is an executive summary of our life stories. And at Kogod, it is ensured you have this essential story-telling skill in business, whether it be 7000 miles away via Skype or at one of the cafes right here at AU.