Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Global Study Trip I - Melbourne

A (very much appreciated) part of the curriculum at Stanford is the "Global Experience Requirement" (GER) that can be fulfilled by various international activities such as study trips, internships abroad or exchange programs.

I decided to make use of the Stanford connections and travel with a group of about 25 students to a country I have never been to. Through a lottery system I got to go on the trip to Australia which was focused on "The Two Speed Economy" and incorporated meetings with Australian leaders from business, politics and society.

The next four blog entries will each be fairly short and focus on a different location we visited:

Melbourne (December 15 - 17)
Even before the official start of the trip our group had lost two members due to visa issues. A couple more students got their visas literally last second. My own trip via LAX, TYO and KUL was long, but fairly uneventful. I tasted both Japanese and Malaysian cuisine and arrived on the evening of December 14th in Melbourne, stayed at a hostel and joined the group the next morning. Soaking in both the culture as well as the local brews we wandered around town and concluded that Melbourne is both beautiful and expensive (think 10 USD for a beer). Our meetings in Melbourne included:

David Peever (MD Australia, Rio Tinto)
Leigh Clifford (Chairman of the Board, Qantas)
Jayne Hrdlicka (CEO, Jetstar Group)
Ian Anderson (CFO, Australian Football Leagues)
James Sutherland (CEO, Cricket Australia)

It was interesting to see the perspective of two Australian airlines on the local aviation market and the issues they have to fight with. Jetstar was established by Qantas to tap into the low-cost market. A move very similar to Germanwings being built up and strengthened by Lufthansa. Some issues that resulted in endless discussions (e.g. Which IT system to use? Whether LH managers should join Germanwings) were discussed by Jayne and it became obvious that Jetstar is a different company to Qantas that in only very few aspect shows ties to its mother company in order not to dilute the low-cost approach. I am excited to see (and actually fairly skeptical) whether that will or won't happen to Lufthansa as well. The multitude of manager going over to Germanwings, the high-class low-cost product as well as LH requiring Germanwings to mirror some IT applications seem to go into the wrong direction.

Overall, Melbourne was great, especially because we talked about airlines, got to the the cricket stadium and went to a few interesting bars!

Stop in Tokyo
Stop in Kuala Lumpur
Having a drink by the river in Melbourne
Cricket Stadium
Visiting Qantas
Bars in Melbourne
View from Qantas Office
Visiting the AFL - Apparently Australian Football is more better than American Football

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Good and The Bad

Let me wrap up the first quarter. Final exam wise it is not fully wrapped up yet, but I assume that my priorities after the last final on Wednesday will be more focused cleaning my room, packing and running last errands. 

The Good
1) I have met some people that I connected with and that I feel can become really good friends. Applying the German (or maybe European) concept of friendship one actually has to get to know another person in order to really be friends. With some people I think I am on a really good way.

Thanksgiving Trip to Big Sur
German(-speaking) Connection
2) I have never been more in shape than right now. Ok, it has actually been quite chilly over the last couple of days (luckily Stanford warns us about ice on the streets), but usually it is no problem to go running in a T-Shirt and shorts. Given one of my first post about the "ripped Americans" I actually feel that I might catch up. Even though the arms of some classmates are still thicker than my legs (Kevin, Clark) I see potential. 
Winter in California
3) I have figured out a couple of things that I care about: 
Food, food processing, developing world, leadership topics, organizational design, big companies, transportation

4) I have figured out a couple of things that I need in order to like a job:
Competition, visibility of my work, significance, strategy, future- orientation
Welcome to Business School!
5) I feel totally secure about my future. I have a feeling that all doors are open and I simply have to pick. There are numerous fall-back options and I really don't have to be afraid of anything. Well, besides getting my teeth punched out by Dutch students that can't take that they are not from Germany.
I wish I had been joking…
The Bad
I have once more realized that even with numerous scholarships people still come from financially well-off backgrounds (which doesn't mean they are jerks, it simply means there might be a lot of poorer people that are overlooked). The application process is costly (and chances are low to get in), tuition is enormous (and chances are low to get a full ride) and the cost of living is one of the highest worldwide (and one doesn't want to sit home and eat toast all day). Stanford will have eight full-ride scholarships for low-income African students next year, which is a start to bring in more low-income internationals. I don't know how to further accelerate that process though...

Even though professors are better than I have seen them anywhere else, they still have the problem of evaluating learning in a way that contributes to the academic experience. We just had our Global Strategy Final. Open book, no clear understanding of what would be on the final. Few people studied, everyone googled the questions, wrote something as an answer (copy&paste not even an option, because we had to write. On paper. With a pen. Like in the middle ages. Can you imagine?). And in two days we will have forgotten everything. I have very rarely encountered professors which found ways to objectively evaluate ones learning while manifesting that learning somehow. Sadly, Stanford is no exception here.

--> Not that many more bad things. NICE! And when I am really sad, Kevin makes me apple pie:

Thanks Kevin!
(Look at the arms, that's what I mean)
What am I up to over break:
Global Study Trip
Christmas on the Beach
SEA City Hopping in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur
New Years in Tokyo
Skiing in Japan

… yes, it's pretty cool!

Cheers + bis bald,