Sunday, January 26, 2014

I've become famous - Interview with!

Tim Eisenmann: Stanford GSB Student, Blogger, and World Traveler

By - Jan 26, 08:15 AM Comments [0]
Stanford_MBA_TimHere’s a talk with Stanford Graduate School of Business student, Tim Eisenmann – a world traveler with a unique work history, set out to impact his surroundings and change the world! Read our interview below to hear about Tim’s experiences at Stanford, and then check out his blog, From PA to the World, for more info. Thank you Tim for sharing your story with us!
This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.
Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent job before you started b-school?
Tim: I was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany. Starting with my high school exchange to the US when I was 15 I have always put a lot of emphasis on changing the environment around me which has led to me living in Germany, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Poland and Rwanda.
Connecting people and facilitating transportation has always fascinated me, which was one of the reasons why I joined Lufthansa, the biggest European airline group, right after undergrad.
Most recently I was working on post merger integration issues and long-term sales strategy.
Accepted: On your blog you say that you’re searching for new inspirations for what to do in the future. Does that mean that you’re stepping away from aviation? Do you plan on entering a new industry? What do you plan on doing post MBA?
Tim: Honestly, I don’t fully know what I want to do. That’s one of the reasons I am at Stanford. Being with bright, motivated students from all over the world gives you exposure to a lot of different industries and functions. There are a few characteristics that my job after b-school needs to have though: international travel, a high performance team and the potential for large scale impact.
Stanford is doing a great job of providing opportunities in a lot of fields: be it through introductions to social entrepreneurs in Africa, meeting McKinsey partners for lunch or connecting you to VCs that might be interested in your start-up idea. I really feel that the world is you oyster in Palo Alto.
Accepted: Which other business schools had you considered? Why did you choose a U.S. program over one closer to home?
Tim: Education is free in Germany, so most of my friends questioned my decision to spend tons of money on an MBA from a US school. I still feel I am making the right choice though. With an MBA one buys a network, a brand name and generalist business skills. For me it was always clear that especially for the first two factors one has to get an MBA from a top school in the US, which is why I applied to HBS and the GSB.
Accepted: Why did you choose Stanford GSB? How would you say you’re a good fit for that program?
Tim: There really isn’t a “good fit” at Stanford. I feel that I am like no one else in my class, but still there is the desire to change the world we live in and to have a lasting impact that resonates with most of us in some way.
Once I had offers from HBS and the GSB I realized that most doors in my future would be opened and it boiled down to where I felt I could become a better manager and grow as a person.
Given the small class size, the collaborative atmosphere and the strong emphasis on leadership, I figured that the GSB was the right place for me. And the constant sunshine doesn’t hurt either.
Accepted: What’s your favorite class so far?
Tim: I am taking a course called “Design for Sustainable Abundance” at the design school this quarter. The design school focuses on human centered approaches to problem solving through design thinking. All classes in the have MBAs, engineers, med school students and scientists work together on real life problems. In our case it is redesigning parts the food system to be more sustainable. We get 24/7 access to a playground for adults including a craft room, movable walls for sticky note brainstorming sessions and a microwave for late night ramen noodles.
Accepted: Can you talk about your internship in Kigali? And do you have an internship lined up for this coming summer yet?
Tim: After quitting my job at Lufthansa I felt like something totally different before b-school. Stanford connected me to a social entrepreneur (also a GSB grad) in Rwanda who tries to fight malnutrition by developing mushroom cultivation through an outgrower model in northern Rwanda. I got to work on the export to Uganda and Burundi, as well as on forming a Joint Venture with a Spanish partner to set up a lab for mushroom tissue replication. Yes, fairly random, but immensely exciting and a great learning experience to work with a small team in a challenging environment. If you want to learn more: Kigali Farms is always looking for motivated interns!
Regarding next summer, recruiting is already at full speed on campus. I am currently thinking about splitting my summer between two internships. One more traditional one doing management consulting in London or New York and the other one exploring more opportunities in the food processing sector in East Africa. Maybe not mushrooms, but mangos this time…
Accepted: Looks like you’re passionate about travel – how do you plan on fitting that into your future plan?
Tim: Over the course of the last years I have managed to each year spend at least 100h on a plane. I really enjoy having time for myself during the flight, then exploring new cultures and meeting new and old friends. Optimally, in the future I have a job that requires me to travel, but gives me the free time to actually explore the place that I am in. But with family in Germany, an interest in East Africa and a network of friends all around the world I am sure that I won’t ever experience a lack of travel opportunities.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Tim: Since I don’t really have the time any more to write individual emails to family and friends I thought a blog would be right medium to keep everyone up to date. After a while I realized that I don’t have 1000+ friends, so there have to be some others that read my blog. It is great to know that my experiences can maybe help applicants or admits to make the right decision for themselves. I can only encourage everyone to check out my blog and leave a comment in case of questions. I’ll promise to answer them, because if they teach us one thing at the GSB it is that people development is the key to success and I’d be happy to see a lot of you at Stanford in the next couple of years.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Study Trip Wrap-Up and Coming Home

As you might have been able to guess, writing about the study trip is actually part of fulfilling our international requirement at the GSB. The school tries to make sure that we don't interpret those trips as vacation, but actually as an opportunity to learn and grow. Part of that learning is reflecting on the experiences via blogposts or essays. Well, I selected the blogposts.

Let me sum up the trip experiences:
(+) Met a lot of great people from my class
(+) Actually really got to know some people on a deeper level
(+) Learned about the Australian economy
(+) Made some meaningful airline executive connections
(+) Crossed off another continent

(-) Wasn't really challenged culturally (Australia is actually kind of like the US)
(-) Didn't get the time to venture out on my own
(-) Had only very few interactions with locals
(-) Spent much, much, much more money than I would have on a self-organized trip

After three more days (including Christmas) in Cairns it was time to say bye-bye to Down Under and the town with the countless bats and head back to California. Well, not exactly. Driving airfare down I decided to book a lot of my travel with AirAsia and include 3 stops on the way back: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Tokyo.

- Skiing in Hakuba and having sushi on the slopes
- Realizing that I visited 4 of the 10 most expensive cities worldwide on the trip (SIN, MEL, SYD, TYO)
- Having drinks at the Marina Bay Sands hotel, starting to dance and having the entire club follow us to the dance floor
- Staying at a classmates former housemates house in Tokyo (Thank, Li!)
- Being shown around Tokyo by another classmate and taking her to a Maid Cafe (if you know what that is you are really weird!)

I promise that the next post will actually be about business school again.

Until then
Cheers + bis bald,

Emperor's Palace in Tokyo

Japanese mid-skiing snack 
Me on the slopes in Hakuba
Hakuba's Happo-One skiing area

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Global Study Trip 3 - Cairns

After our stops in Melbourne and Sydney we headed towards the Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef to see what makes Australia one of the prime tourism spots worldwide. Besides coming closer together as a group while exploring the marine wildlife we also met with one of the most prominent thought leaders and activists in indigenous affairs in Australia: Noel Pearson.

Indigenous affairs have been handled very differently in Australia over the last centuries. Stories about for example the "stolen generation" have made it even to German classrooms where I remember heated discussions about how a government can put in place legislation so obviously harmful. It was interesting to see what kind of picture Pearson was painting compared to the CEOs we had met beforehand on our trip. Those CEOs were seeing the problems of Native Australians not really as a challenge for their businesses, but more of a PR vehicle to showcase their own corporate social responsibility. Pearson referenced a lot of political philosophy in his speech to us and it became obvious that he was an experienced speaker in front of big audiences. He was using his gestures and mimic much more than the business leaders we had met before. I don't think it is fair to compare Pearson's to MLK's style, but it actually seemed fairly similar.

If you are interested:

On a lighter note, when people hear Cairns they immediately think scuba diving and snorkeling. Activities I am not a huge fan of. Mostly because I am afraid of deep water and fish. Two things that are integral components of diving. Well, I snorkeled anyway. And I am still alive. But I didn't find my love for seeing fish and corals that close up.

Another interesting fact about Cairns is that there are a lot of bats all over town. Why? - I have not idea. But see for yourself in the pictures. It is actually quite scary at night and reminded all of us of Hitchcock's "Birds" movie.

Stay tuned for the wrap-up of the global study trip and my travels back to Stanford.

Cheers + bis bald,

Bats in Cairns
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef 
Boat ride back from the reef

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Global Study Trip 2 - Sydney

Hi there,

I know I am lagging behind with my posts a little bit. The new quarter has just started, consulting interviews are coming up and I have been coming back to campus with a cold.

Let me nevertheless briefly tell you about the second stop of my global study trip: Sydney.

Being much more urban than Melbourne, Sydney definitely had a big-city feel to it. Here we visited Westpac, Jawun, Saatchi and some start-ups.

I want to focus on our meeting with Gail Kelley, CEO of Westpac and according to Forbes the 8th most powerful women in the world in 2010. Gail told us her story of moving up the ranks from an ordinary bank teller to becoming CEO of one of Australia's largest banks. Having previously met with Jayne Hrdlicka, the CEO of Jetstar, it was interesting to see how those two women differ in their leaderships styles and their values. Gail seemed to have a lot more tenure, seemed calmer and less aggressive. One thing they both had in common was that they acknowledged the fact that being a women made it harder for them to thrive in their careers. It is sad, but at the same time shows the tremendous skill those two actually have. It might also be the reason why both of them mentioned leadership development as one of the key assets a manager can have. Because they might not always have been developed as well as their male counterparts they try to reverse that and create a better environment for that in their companies.

Besides the meetings we also saw the one place I was really excited about in Australia: The Sydney Opera House. I feel it is like the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge. Something one has seen so many times on photos or on TV. The building itself was nice, but nothing too special. I think the fact that it is so strongly connected to the image I have of Sydney is what made it interesting to see.

I am going to finish for now and try to write part 3 of the trip report in the upcoming days.

Cheers + bis bald,