August 3, 2012

European Field Seminar, Spring 2012

Post By:
Tom Cantwell
PEMBA, 2013

Team members from the trip getting to know each other at the welcome dinner
Right after Memorial Day Weekend, 20 MBA students traveled across Europe for the European Field Seminar.  Led by French native Professor Frederic Brunel, our trip brought us to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Budapest as we gained a breadth of knowledge on the impact of European culture and government structure on a variety of industries.  Having led a number of seminars in the past, Professor Brunel provided a great context for business in the European Union, and made an exceptional tour guide during our brief moments of downtime.  Kristen Fischer from the GPO joined us as one of the group leaders as well, ensuring that the group was both organized and safe!  Our class was a mix of both full-time and part-time students with a range of different cultural backgrounds, and graduate concentrations, which provided a great opportunity for everyone to deepen their personal and professional networks.

Monica at the Audi plant in Hungary
Inside the European Commission
Through exposure to a multitude of companies, we learned about many of the unique impacts of both European culture and government on different industries.  In Amsterdam, we witnessed how the efficient nature of the Dutch had an intrinsic impact on operations at Flora Holland, the largest flower auctioneer in the world.  At the Audi plant in Brussels, we learned how plant manager’s general concern for worker safety inspired line workers to drive innovation in the workplace.  We were impressed with the analytical capabilities of the workforce in Budapest, and had the opportunity to learn how financial firms like Morgan Stanley are positioning themselves to develop and maintain a direct line into the emerging Hungarian talent pool.  

Team members posing in Budapest
The timing of the trip was especially unique as we were in Europe during the thick of the Greek debt crisis.  During our visit to Brussels, we were able to meet with economists, financial sector leaders, and members from the European Commission throughout the trip to get their perspective on contributing factors to the crisis, and requirements for a sustainable solution.  We also gained a deeper understanding of how our own economy is interlinked with that of the European Union.

Team members in Paris during the weekend
In front of a windmill outside of Amsterdam the weekend before the trip 
As a member of the Leadership and Organizational Transformation concentration, I personally gained the most in learning about leadership in different European cultures.  In many of the companies we visited, I observed how leaders adapt their styles to get the most out of a European employee base.  Through this observation, I learned that leaders were using the same leadership frameworks that we employ, however they were adapting them to the culture of the organization that they were leading.  The importance of situational leadership has now grown on me, and I have been able to carry apply many of my observations in subsequent leadership coursework. 

Tom is a Manager in Process Improvement at Liberty Mutual Insurance.  He is expected to graduate from the Part Time Evening MBA Program at BU in 2013 with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Transformation.  

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment