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.

 

 

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Big decision: Go full or part-time?

In my experience as a Kogod Ambassador I’ve noticed that some of the most popular questions among prospective students relate to their decision about going full or part-time. They wonder about the main difference between both programs, and what they could miss if they chose the latter. To them, here’s my answer, and know that I’m fully writing from my personal experience since I’m a full-timer while my husband is a part-timer, both at Kogod…

By comparing my husband’s experience with mine, I can tell with absolute confidence that the learning experience as well as the ability to network and make friends is exactly the same. Professors demand as much from part-timers as they do from full-timers, with the only difference that part-timers take fewer courses per semester. As for the interpersonal relations, it’s true that part-timers meet in class less often; however, their class is smaller so they share all courses, which allows them to get to know each other more quickly.

The main difference between you becoming a part or full-timer relies on (1) the time you spend on campus, and (2) the extent to which school becomes your main focus. Of course going part-time will require you to spend less time at school, since you will be working simultaneously and taking only 6 credits per semester as opposed to 12+. Plus, work will probably continue to grab a big part of your attention, since there’s a reason you didn’t leave it in the first place, this being: the need to continue getting an income, the potential of growing within the organization, the risk of quitting and having to look for a different job later on, etc.

No one program is better than the other per se; it all depends on what YOU want to do, meaning what your interests and priorities are. Most international students for example, prefer to go full-time, looking for an on-campus experience that they probably lacked in their hometowns. Other people feel they want to become 100% students again: dress up comfy, grab food on the go, study at the library or simple sitting on the grass, and generally following an unstructured time schedule. Some decide to go full-time to graduate earlier and make that career switch they’ve been long waiting for. Others are willing to cope with only one type of stress at a time.

But everything is relative. For many people, working and studying at the same time proves less stressful than studying only, since it gets easier to set up time boundaries and become more productive. Plus, people may feel psychologically less pressured when taking care of several issues than when only focusing on one. Some others are career enhancers as opposed to career switchers, so keeping their job to capitalize on opportunities of growth within the organization makes more sense for them. Other people simply need their monthly income and are not willing to take on the risk of getting a new job in times of recession.

So… Who are you? What are your goals? What are your interests and priorities? Inquiring yourself can help you find out whether you would be happier as a full or part-timer at Kogod. Ask yourself:

  • Do I want to spend more or less time on campus?
  • Does having two focal points stress me out more or less than having one?
  • Do I want to have the 100% student experience again?
  • Am I a career switcher or enhancer?
  • How does quitting my job affect my career potential?
  • Can I afford to stop receiving a salary while studying?

Getting to know who you are and what you want is the first step to choosing the school and program that will fulfill you the most.

To know more about Kogod’s full and part-time graduate programs click here.

Tee it up again

FORE.

I remember my eleventh birthday when I got the 5-club set of junior golf clubs from my parents. Apparently Rawlings makes more than just baseballs (who knew?). The clubs looked like they were made from the same metal used in highway guard rails and they came in a sickly looking nylon golf bag. I couldn’t have been happier and I treated those clubs as though they belonged in Tiger’s bag (before all the “ladies” loved him). Going out to play that first round, my dad was constantly telling me to stop getting frustrated. “It’s your first time!” he said. “We’ll go practice and try again.” I like to look at Kogod as my next round.

Actual Size: My first set of clubs. Puh-thetic.

I’ve come to Kogod with a new sense of focus and determination to get more than just  a master’s degree. My experiences throughout school and work have made me want to strive for a better future. I’ve shanked a couple decisions, duffed others, and whiffed on a few. But all those decisions have honed my sights on something bigger for myself. Kogod’s the fairway and while I’m here, I’m going to bomb one right down the middle.

It took me a long time to realize that you don’t really lose in golf, you just don’t always do as well as you wanted to. The point is that you can always come back and give it another go as long as you’re willing to try again. I’ve found Kogod to be a great place to get creative and pull a few trick shots out of my arsenal and I look forward to the improvement it will make on my future and my career.

Nursing Home Orderly: Good news, everybody, we’re extending arts and crafts time by four hours today.
Elderly Woman: My fingers hurt.
Nursing Home Orderly: What’s that?
Elderly Woman: My fingers hurt.
Nursing Home Orderly: Oh, well, now your back’s gonna hurt, ’cause you just pulled landscaping duty. Anybody else’s fingers hurt?… I didn’t think so.”

Happy Gilmore – THE greatest golf movie of all time.

Opening day

My alma mater crew.

First day of semester two. Stepping into Kogod yesterday gave me a familiar feeling. I’d get the same rush of anticipation and excitement every time I’d walk back into the field house to start spring training with my baseball teammates.

Really says something about the connections I’ve made so far and to the team spirit we all bring to the table. So glad to be back!

First Semester Tips: PT MBA Perspective

The Part-Time MBA program at Kogod has thus far been a challenging, yet manageable endeavor. The hardest part, as expected, has been using my time efficiently while keeping my sanity and not losing touch with those people important to me. With the second semester around the corner, my head is still between my shoulders and I have not been ostracized by anyone. My “success” in balancing Kogod into my life is by no means worthy of a trophy, but a few tips from my first semester may help yours go a little smoother.

MAKE A LIST. If you’re like me, you’re flooded with “important things”; Google Calendar, the Blackberry, work email, work calendar, events I don’t even care about, and events that are so important that I forget about them. It’s an age-old technique, but writing down and prioritizing what you have to do in a single place for the day prevents the panic of “I have no time to do this because I have this other thing to do.” My experience as an engineer has taught me that while the type of steel used for a railroad track may be important, the track still has to connect in a logical way. Organizing your day in a concise and clear manner will help you get from A to B as smoothly as possible.

You could also take a trip to a water park. I was put in the back seat.

ME TIME. Try to budget yourself a good half hour for you to do absolutely nothing. Watch some YouTube, listen to music, or flip a coin enough times to find the elusive body between heads and tails. This time will allow you to meditate and realize that while school and work are important, you’re only human. When I’m running with a clear head, things always end up finding a way to work themselves out. A little relaxation keeps me crystal. Also, this time is expendable, so if you REALLY need it, you’ve got yourself an extra thirty minutes for that paper due tomorrow.

EXERCISE. This is separate from “me time” and perhaps more important. When I get lazy, so does my work. By keeping myself active, I sustain my energy level and am much more productive. Kogod charges a nominal fee for access to Bender Arena/Gymnasium which is paid for at the beginning of each semester. My advice is to take advantage of this proverbial freebie and keep yourself moving physically. I’m not saying to set lofty weight-loss goals during exam week or anything like that, but a few minutes of physical activity may have a great impact on your scholastic performance.

“You don’t want another Enron? Here’s your law: If a company, can’t explain, in ONE SENTENCE….what it does….it’s illegal.”

– Mr. Lewis Black