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Sports & MBA ?!

12 Dec

I wish I could write this blog as a plan on what to expect from joining the Mannheim MBA program but the truth is that it is the unexpected that is the only certainty in the program, and trust me, that is a great thing! While there is obvious apprehension prior to commencing the program, leaving the professional world and embarking on a highly challenging journey, this feeling is soon put to bed once you understand that your teammates and soon to be lifelong friends all find themselves in the same situation. The mentality of all ‘being in it together’ is one that definitely lends itself to bringing the class close together from the very first meeting.
I’m writing this post three months into the program and looking back I really can’t understand where the time has gone. There has been induction, classes, exams, late night study sessions, projects, and the always entertaining group assignments! While I could give a run-down of the academic portion of the program it’s important to also describe another critical aspect of the program and that is the out of class experiences that are critical to our development as business leaders in a culturally diverse world. Two of these areas I would like to shed some light on is the social and sporting aspects on the program.
The question that is often posed to international managers is how to integrate a culturally diverse team? After three months of the MBA and being in a class that registers twenty three different nationalities out of sixty students, I think we may have discovered the formula and that includes equal parts sport, and as President Obama would describe it, equal parts ‘Beer Diplomacy’. You may question how important sports are during an MBA program but we quickly got this answer during the official introduction with Mannheim’s Business School President when he stated that our degree could only be guaranteed if we retained the Rowing Cup that last year’s group finally won after a long six year draught! To this point I still don’t know if it was a joke, but what is apparent is that the team is not taking any chances and we are all training like our graduation depends on it!
soccerOn the football field we have created a team that includes players from Europe, North American, South America, Asia, and Australia. After several days of arguing the true meaning of ‘football’ after lots of persuading of the American’s we are training hard for the annual indoor tournament held in Leipzig. What we have found really interesting in the team is that local sports from other cultures can come in very handy on the football field. We have an Indian that is using his cricket skills effectively as our goalie, and the American’s use their ‘American’ football skills to great effect in a defensive role. Again, no matter what the result, the training has continued to bond our group closer.The second part of the cultural journey is what can only be arguably the most fun part…. and that involves some beer drinking. While the cultural sensitivity and cultural diversity classes are extremely important, it is really amazing how an incredibly diverse group can find common interests and very lively conversation over a local German Bier or Glühwein! As a group we have taken trips to a variety of cities including Berlin, Heidelberg, Neustadt, Strasbourg, and Frankfurt, just to name a few. The traveling not only allows us to experience German culture first-hand (and practice our somewhat limited Deutsch skills) but it is a great way to get to know the cultures of our teammates, what makes them tick, and how they view the world.

Soon several us are going to be off to our exchange partner schools, therefore leaving our teammates for three months but the sports and socializing means that coming back together is something that we are all looking forward to with the assurance that the bonds we have developed on the playing field, in the bars, and on the road, will not be strained by distance. With the development of a ‘Culture and Sports’ club we have plans to try several new global sports, visit a variety of sporting events throughout Europe, and obviously part-take in some healthy competition during the World Cup.

-Geoffrey Mason-

Mannheim MBA Class of 2014

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A company visit

18 Mar

One hour in a bus! That’s how long it took to travel around the BASF plant in Ludwigshafen.

The trip to the largest chemical companies in the world, BASF, is just a walk across the bridge from MBS. Covering the entire expanse of landscape across the Rhine from Mannheim, the facility is the largest chemical plant in the world. True to its name, BASF is a powerhouse in the chemical field with products in almost every industry known to man! Their international associations and open innovation techniques are a source of information to most companies that want to achieve a truly ‘global architecture’.

The information session opened our eyes to the history, changes in the industry and challenges that the chemical industry faces in light of recent developments. Additionally the in-house consulting team and the HR provided us with insights on the exciting work along with the opportunities at BASF.

The beautiful sight of first snow along with a pretty long game of snow-fight with the amazing 2013 cohort made the perfect ending to the eventful day!

1,78,000+ employees in over 100 locations with a turnover of 58 billion USD..Three numbers that constantly remind me about the size of the BASF world.

– Anoop Thampy –
Mannheim MBA Class of 2013

Term 1 Highlights

7 Jan

Decision Analysis Class

scenario analysis

Football – Time to score

Football

The dream team 😉

Football Team

Surrounding

Man

 

MBS goes to Leipzig!

30 May

So, the past week, we completed our course on the Challenges of Strategic HRM; the crux of the lecture being that the strategic part of HRM is successful only when the functional line managers take an active interest in their team’s coaching and development needs and participate actively in mentoring them with HR playing the facilitator’s role. The role of HR needs to evolve into one where it permeates all sections of an organization and ensures that an organization’s competitive advantage is its People.

The weekend was spent in rowing practice for our upcoming rowing competition in July. We also walked around the local Stadtfest (City music festival) in Mannheim where a host of bands played all sorts of music; from the oldies to cover-versions of U2 and past German hit musicians. Today, we began with course no. 7 of Term3 – Global Information Management. The course covers the strategic part of Information Technology with an emphasis on implementation and managing information on a global level. It promises to be an interesting week ahead.

And finally, on the weekend, our class travels to Leipzig to participate in an inter-college football tournament. We have a fantastic team on hand that plays well as a team and that knows each other strengths and weaknesses. I am SO looking forward to cheering our team and having tonnnes of fun! Wish us tonnes of luck! 🙂

Which is what my year at MBS has had an abundance of; Fun. It sure has been one of the most intense, dynamic, demanding years of my life ever but totally balanced with ample fun, new experiences, new ideas and a bunch of the greatest people this side of the world! Couldn’t have asked for more.

till later,

Anita

2 subjects, a hike and a marathon race

25 May

Its been an eventful, packed past 2 weeks. My previous post was on the eve of our International Marketing course. The course was 5 packed days of an individual case-study, a group case-study and a computer-based simulation game on entering a new market. The thing with case-studies is, in my opinion that one needs to definitely read between the lines before one can develop one’s line of thinking and come up with meaningful recommendations. Grasping the intricacies of a case is like discovering new layers to a good book after each subsequent read. The cases were focused on deeper concepts like re-branding, market-entry into a new continent, pricing a new medical invention- the worst nightmare for a  marketer and the like. Via healthy class discussions, the course sharpened my interest in brands and what makes them tick. Here’s hoping to apply these concepts soon in the real world.

I had a guilt-free hike on the Saturday after the course, having had a good previous week especially since our team did a neat job during the market-entry simulation and more importantly, we had tonnes of fun! We visited the area called ‘Bad Dürkheim’, which is the spa-capital this side of the world. We hiked to a local monastery and enjoyed amazing views of the surrounding forest area over a glass of local wine. Post the hike, we had lunch at the world’s largest wine-barrel, that now houses a restaurant. Our lunch was authentic German food accompanied by a music from a local  musician and performances from our very own in-house guitar player. The highlights of the afternoon were  good food, good music, good views and awesome company, can’t complain 🙂

The previous week was the course on Strategic Leadership, which focused on our personal leadership styles and how we could develop ourselves to become future strategic leaders. Strategic Leadership, in a broad sense, ‘is a person’s ability to anticipate, envision, maintain flexibility, think strategically, and work with others to initiate changes that will create a viable future for the organization’. Examples of strategic leaders are Herb Kelleher from Southwest Airlines and Anne Mulcahy, the former CEO of Xerox Corporation. A key insight from the course was the emphasis on Authentic Leadership, that focused on being yourself, knowing your strengths and weaknesses and adapting your leadership style accordingly. This emphasis on being authentic ensures that you come across as a whole lot more believable which creates trust and you stand a better chance of building a long-term relationship with your employees. 

And finally, this past weekend, 21st May 2011 was The Mannheim-Marathon. 18 of us from MBS participated in various runs; the full marathon (42 km), the half-marathon (21 km), the duo-marathon and the team-marathon (4 participants). I participated in the team-marathon and our team completed 42 km in 3 hours and 43 minutes, pretty awesome, if I may say so myself. The best part, was that the Marathon began at 6.30 p.m. and we completed our run at 10.30 p.m. So it  was quite the party on the roads! Post the run, we went to our favorite watering hole, lol and celebrated. 

This week, we are studying the various Challenges of Strategic HRM via a mix of lectures, case-studies, debates and guest speakers. More posts on the other side of the lecture!

Till later,

Anita

A little bit of everything

26 Apr

The past 2 weeks have had a little bit of everything. Like I mentioned in the previous post, we had the Career Fair from 11-13th April, which has  led to some very interesting leads. I have my fingers crossed and hope to have my post-MBA journey charted out in its logical time. We also had the 1st Alumni Round-table, which was a semi-formal gathering of several of our alumni working currently in Germany and the full-time MBA class and the Program Management, Career Services and Alumni Relations teams. It was a fantastic event that have us an opportunity to have relaxed talks with the alumni over some awesome appetizers and drinks. 

Then we had several Workshops to help us approach Term3 and the career-search better. Note that I say career-search and not job-search. To me, the MBA is the ideal time to reevaluate your aspirations, skills and talents and narrow down better the type of career that you are meant for. Career-found, job-search is a piece of cake. We also had the monthly Stammtisch, where we reconnected with those of our classmates who were away in Terms1 and 2 on exchange-programs. My MCT; we spent the weekend in the company of a bunch of adorable kids. It was our day out, as part of the Social Project which was a great success  https://blog.mannheim-mba.com/2010/10/27/making-a-difference-in-our-own-way/. Details coming soon!

Also, Term3 Classes began last Sunday with Cross Cultural Management. Here, we learnt insights into why people from different cultures behaved the way they did, depending on the historical experiences and social contexts that they were a part of. For e.g. Indians are more conscious of ‘saving face’ and tend to avoid confrontations. An agenda and structure is critical to the German way of life. The hierarchy is respected heavily in the French context. Considering there were at least 10 different nationalities in class, it was a true cross-cultural experience.  The weekend ended with the beginning of the Easter weekend.

Some running along the river, a barbecue at the park, Easter-Sunday mass, coffee with friends and a lot of reading; both the fictional and non-fictional (read- course material) kind have totally recharged me for the coming week. We start with ‘States and Markets’- the role that the Government can, should and does play in regulating/ controlling/ improving the markets. Promising!

Have a great week ahead!

Till later,

Anita

P.S: Its 22 degrees; God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.

The 59th Mannheim International film-festival!

16 Nov

A real steal this one! The Mannheim International Film Festival enters its 59th year and is the biggest film-festival in Germany after the Berlin film festival. It takes place this year from 11th – 21st November and is a veritable feast of creativity from around the globe. I have already seen 10 movies; from Turkey, Sweden, The Netherlands, Phillipines, Italy, Chile, Argentina and France and can’t wait for the remainder of the week.

Till det som är vackert / ‘Pure’ from Sweden particularly caught my eye. It is based on this suburban girl who comes from a dysfunctional family and finds her solace in Mozart’s symphonies. She faces several challenges throughout but comes out a survivor. The actress Alicia is only about 22 and shows all the hallmarks of a future legend. Then, ‘Win/Win’ from Netherlands is an amazing debut. It talks about this financial trader who burns out eventually despite his inherent talent to make piles of money out of seemingly-dead-stocks. This movie resonated particularly well, since we just recently completed our Financial Accounting class. So ‘call’, ‘underlying’, ‘option’ did mean something to me, Lol. The Argentinian movie ‘Eva and Lola’ was a fascinating insight into the nation’s tragic political history. The most interesting part was the director’s take on such a sensitive topic, shot via such a practical, modern approach. Besides the movies, I have met several interesting people; actors, directors, producers, fans; all of whom are just there to be a part of the magic of films.

Besides which, the timing of the festival is like a God-sent; right after the Managerial Accounting exams and in the 1st week of the last 2 subjects of Term1 – Corporate Finance, Economics. So, I have the right amount of time to go movie-hopping and see the world through the eyes of another.

Till later,

Celebrating the festival of lights at MBS!

7 Nov

Besan laddoo (Indian sweet-cookies made of gram-flour and Indian butter), Atta ka halwa (Wheat flour based sweet) and Kheer (Milk-rice) were on the menu as part of the Diwali (The Indian festival of lights) at MBS. We came dressed in our festive best, distributed the sweets among our classmates and wished everyone the very best in the coming year. It came real close Diwali celebrations back home.

Post lecture 2 of Managerial Accounting, we left for the monthly Stammtisch event; Stammtisch is the name for the monthly meet-up of the full-time MBA class, the Executive MBA and the Executive Master of Accounting and Taxation,  along with the alumni on the 1st Friday of every month, at the local bar. The origin of the word Stammtisch is rather interesting; it denotes a group of several people, who meet regularly at a place (a bar /pub/ other restaurant) over drinks at a round-table (der Tisch). Besides being a lot of fun over drinks and food, the Stammtisch is also a great opportunity to network and build lasting relationships with fellow-students. So, Stammtisch we did; we met some of our alumni, classmates from other programs, members from the Program Management and some of our professors too.

Post the Stammtisch, the weekend went past in a flurry of bad weather, tonnes of reading in preparation for the Managerial Accounting lecture on Wednesday; 10th Nov, preparations for the 2nd Social event- by MSA (The Student’s association) also on the 10th and personal administration; read cook, clean, wash. haha.

We promised to be back on another Saturday for live-music and a taste of their tempting-Pasta.

For now though, it is back to the books; a couple of mandatory readings and I can crash. My next post will be after the exams and our party on the 10th! Wish us luck, for both!

Have a great week ahead!

Cheers,

Anita

Has it been a month already? :)

13 Oct

October 13th, 2010- 1 month old in MBS!

This day, last month, this year, we were just setting foot into the hallways of MBS; a bunch of 58 excited, anxious, nervous, happy students. For most of us, this was the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. The book, until now, has more than lived up to its expectations and is rather Booker-prize-worthy in more ways than one! 🙂

It’s had its fair share of ups and downs, highs and lows, anxiety and relief, sweat and success. It’s been a walk in the park at times, an uphill climb at others. It’s led to many sleepless nights but also a lot of sunny mornings, when we skipped to class with a spring in our step.

As part of the MSA (Mannheim Student Association), we organized a drinks-out at the local Irish pub O´Reilly´s http://www.oreillys-mannheim.de/home.html at 7 p.m.
Until then, we were busy in a mix of Marketing and Financial accounting all day long. As part of our Marketing consumer survey group-assignment, my team; we had chosen to compare 2 local book-store; 1 as our company and the other as the competitor. This was part of the 3-Circle project. Read more about it at http://3-circles.net/home.html and http://www.drrobertdavies.com/080130CIRCLESOFSUCCESS.pdf.There was a lot of debate and discussion on assigning the attributes to one of the circles, in a way, that would give us a clear representation of which attributes our chosen company would need to improve upon. Since most of us profess an undying love for the written word, this project was not ‘work-work’ but more a labor of love; well, almost. 🙂

As part of our Financial Accounting assignment, we are currently analyzing the IAS 38 and need to come up with reasons whether or not Company-A is justified in capitalizing a large part of its R&D expenses. Considering that only 2 out of 8 in the group had Financial Accounting before, it is A LOT of fun.

Needless to say, these case-assignments go a long way in clarifying theoretical concepts. However, the biggest take-away is in honing our group-work skills in an international setting.  I have learnt so much about coordination, time-management, handling different kinds of people, focusing on the task-at-hand and staying calm and composed these 30 days that I can see visible changes in the way I interact and handle things; and all for the better.

Anyways, post a long day at class; German classes, Marketing and Financial Accounting, we couldn’t wait to reach O’Reillys. This was also the 1st social event organized by MSA. The turnout was tremendous, the drinks flowed freely, the conversation flowed even more.

Here’s to a month of living our dreams!

Prost! 🙂

Mannheim, I am home.

12 Sep

As I write this, it is Sunday, 12th Sept 2010, 11.19 a.m. Mannheim time.

My journey to Mannheim started off on Saturday, 11th Sept; 18.30 hours IST in Mumbai.  Thanks to the direct flight and on-time flight at that, I reached Mannheim at 6.30 a.m. on 12th Sept. Thanks to the detailed instructions from the Program management, it was a breeze through the efficient German train-system( the ICE )  and 30 minutes later, I was at Mannheim Hauptbahnhof (Main station) at around 10 a.m.

I had quite the task of trying to carry my luggage on my own via the escalator to the main entrance. Imagine a little person with a laptop bag on her shoulders, walking with a 4-wheeler baggage combined with a handbag. Then dragging a 2 wheeler baggage combined with an overall on its pulley. Quite the scene! Anyways, I called up the janitor of my apartment, who thankfully reached on time and, check-in formalities completed; I was officially home at 10.45 a.m.

Now, first impressions first. My student-apartment is the coziest ever, in the city-centre! Its completely self-sufficient and furnished. Let me walk you through it as you step into the apartment from the door; there is a wardrobe to the right , an open cupboard to the left and a little further down- a bed right by the window. Next to the bed is my study-table, then a slight partition that neatly divides the kitchen-area from the rest of room. Here, a little dining table faces the window [This is where I see myself having scrumptious bakes and ginger-tea :)] a mini-fridge and the cooking range. A little to the right is the bathroom. Being one of those freaks who HAS to unpack immediately, unpack I did. 🙂

5 fridge magnets, A German-English dictionary, my dog-eared copy of ‘Anne of Green Gables’, my new copy of ‘Love in the time of Cholera’, greeting-cards from friends, snaps of the family my trusty Dell and the coconut-barfi from home, it felt totally homey 🙂

A hot water bath later, I made myself some Maggi, got the internet set-up done, logged on to the virtual world and was ready to settle in. A walk around the town made me realize it was a Sunday, so all stores were closed. I walked down to my college, just to get myself oriented, called home, walked to the station to get milk/ bread/ eggs, met an alumnus in the evening and made myself a very strange omelette/ scrambled eggs. The original idea was to make a boiled egg, which didn’t boil very well, so I scrambled it into an omelette with ginger-garlic paste. I packed my bags for day1 at college and slept off around 11 p.m.

Mannheim, I am home.