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by Ryan Kris

This winter I was lucky to migrate north of the border, spending three weeks in Denmark studying for my final MBA elective during an abnormally warm Nordic summer. I attended Aarhus University for their Summer University program, undertaking a subject called Using Digital Technologies for Competitive Advantage.

We got a free AU Summer Uni beach towel too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a techie at heart with a passion for business, this subject delivered. Over a two-week period, we started with an overview of IT concepts and systems thinking. From here we delved into how digital technologies are transforming the business landscape.

A tech subject taught low-tech: No powerpoint slides - chalk and blackboard the preferred written communications method for Prof Varun Grover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital and strategic thinking were the core of the course. We explored a number of frameworks used to assess a company’s digital capabilities (or lack there of) and how these could be used to capture market opportunities and establish competitive advantage.

These concepts were tied back to fundamental economics. We studied different business models currently used by market leaders (Amazon, Netflix, Motley Fool) and looked at why many digital businesses failed during the dot com crash in the early 2000s – and the lessons learnt since.

Our contact time for the course was 9am-noon daily. The assessment for the subject consisted of two case studies, an online tech quiz and the final exam. The exam was three hours and conducted online. It was scheduled one week after the course was finished and all students take it at the same time. I completed the exam when I was in Stockholm as I had travelled there from Aarhus after the in-class work was over. The online exam was a first for me, but I managed to stay focused and got the job done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before and after. My online exam which I completed in my friend’s kitchen in Stockholm

Living in Aarhus
In Aarhus I had my first Airbnb experience. Airbnb lets everyday folk rent out their personal homes or spare rooms online for anyone to book from around the world. Rooms are generally cheaper than a hotel but a step up from student and hostel accommodation.

I booked a private room in a three-bedroom apartment which turned out to be right on the main strip in town along the river – the Åboulevarden. In my apartment I lived with two local Danes who become my hosts and city guides. I even got some Danish language lessons. With three extra vowels in the Danish alphabet – å, ä, ø – I needed help if I was to pronounce the street names around me.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tough life. My balcony in Aarhus over the Åboulevarden

Getting around town was easy. Everyone bikes, so I was quick to hire one to get me from home to university each day. The town was safe and living was easy. Cafes and bars were a plenty, and night times were electric as the World Cup streamed on outdoor TVs and bars across town. We even had a jazz festival on during my stay, so there was live music on corners and streets throughout town.

That’s so hygge
In Denmark, the world’s happiest country, I encountered the concept of ‘hygge’. There is no real direct translation for this in English, but it is a cosy feeling with a social aspect. According to this definition, “Hygge has more to do with people’s behavior towards each other. It is the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality and contentment rolled into one”.

It is generally applied to many situations or experiences. Lunch with friends at the park or a nice dinner at home with family. It usually involves, food, drink and friends coupled with games or music or both. I was lucky to experience much hygge with my fellow students thanks to the great social program that Aarhus University put on and the people I subsequently met.

Our first event was a city walking tour where we learnt more about Aarhus and its history. On the tour, I met people from all the continents. A group of us soon formed as we downed our first beers at the closest pub after the walk. Our group came from all corners, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, America, Canada and France.

Our student crew enjoying some drinks on the balcony – so hygge

In addition to the many BBQs, World Cup matches, picnics and beer drinking we went canoeing along the Gudenåen river in the Silkeborg lakes and took a car trip to Skagen, where the Baltic sea meets the North sea. Between study we certainly had a full itinerary.

Planning our trip to Skagen where the two seas meet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My time in Denmark was an experience I won’t forget. The study was intense but complemented what I had learnt through my MBA studies in Adelaide. After the study period I was lucky to head off to Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands for a well earned break.

Being able to combine study and doing some overseas travel is something I’d certainly recommend to anyone else going through their MBA studies here in Adelaide. If you’re considering Aarhus, Denmark as your study destination, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll share all the insights.

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The Business School will hold an Adelaide MBA Pre-Application Briefing Session on Wednesday 22 October 2014, at 6.00 pm. This session will be held at the Adelaide Central Markets, Level 1 Private Kitchen/Dining Room. Entrance via Lifts or stairwell next to Zuma’s cafe (look out for MBA Banner on ground floor).

Attend to learn more about the Adelaide MBA program and the pathways available.

You will also have the opportunity to:

  • Meet current students and alumni of the Adelaide MBA and hear about their experiences, insights gained and the real benefits
  • Have an informal presentation on what you need to know about the program
  • Meet academics and professional staff working on the program
  • Ask specific questions and determine ‘personal fit’
  • Enjoy light refreshments with others considering undertaking the program.

Register now

Register now for an Adelaide MBA Pre-Application Briefing Session.

Alternatively, if you have specific questions, please contact Daniela Cirocco by email daniela.cirocco@adelaide.edu.au.

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by Anthony Roddam

Monday, 23 June – Week 1

Before commencing the European Summer School of Advanced Management (ESSAM), I spent a week travelling to a couple of cities in Europe; making the most out of the long flight across from Adelaide. I was glad that I arrived in Europe several days before the course commenced as this enabled me to relax after a busy period at work so that I could completely focus on my studies as well as acclimatising to the different time zone. The majority of students arrived the day before the course started and suffered the first few days from jet lag. After arriving in London, I caught a short train ride up to Loughborough where the first week of the program was held. It was a small university town, an hour north of London.

On our first day of classes at Loughborough, we began with a buffet breakfast with all of the traditional English favourites. We then moved into the lecture theatre which was in a large function room within our hotel accommodation where we were officially welcomed to ESSAM. Following this, our first lecture was given by Dr Cheryl Travers of Loughborough University on the topic of Understanding Self and the importance of Self Awareness. This was followed by a lecture on Understanding Others which discussed strategies to identify and interpret the behaviour expressed by those with whom we interact. Cheryl was a terrific lecturer and engaged the class from the outset and throughout her two sessions. Whilst some of the content was revision, these topics are always good to have a refresher of as you can get caught up in your everyday life and can lose your understanding of self and those around you. It was also valuable to hear about challenges some of the cohort were experiencing in their workplaces from an international perspective. Our final lecture of the day was given by Dr Angelika Zimmerman, also of Loughborough University. She discussed key cultural differences and the importance of understanding this to avoid conflict and working effectively in multi-cultural teams. Although a lot of stereotypes were discussed, I learnt that it is important to understand how different people behave and interact and that no one way is the right way. Angelika has also worked in many different countries so it was great to hear of her first-hand experiences, working with different cultural groups. After our lectures had concluded we met in the hotel restaurant where we had a 3 course dinner (something which was consistent throughout the program) and some social drinks with the other ESSAM participants.

For my elective, I completed Emotional Intelligence and Leadership with Dr David Tipton. We had 12 sessions over 3 days and I found this class incredibly valuable. Not often do you have the opportunity to spend a concentrated amount of time focusing on yourself, building on your understanding of self and developing techniques to manage your behavior. I really enjoyed the open discussions we had as a class and learnt a lot from their stories and experiences. David was a very captivating lecturer and was candid about his personal and work-life experiences. It was probably the most dynamic class I have taken part in so far in my MBA studies with various presentation media used including videos and surveys as well as a large component of class discussions. The individual assignment for this subject requires me to focus on a current area of my emotional intelligence which is deficient and will force me to challenge my thoughts and behaviours. I am excited to get this underway as I expect what I have learnt will have tangible benefits for my personal and professional life.

Following the week in Loughborough, we travelled to London by coach and we then spent two nights in London’s Olympic Park. Here we had various lectures and were given time to work on our group consulting projects. For my group consulting project, we had to investigate what business support should be provided to businesses in the east end of Glasgow to assist with the regeneration of this disadvantaged area. The regeneration of this area, called the Clyde Gateway was a key focus for the Scottish Government in the wake of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was a very interesting project and in the two days in London we also had the opportunity to see how the 2012 Olympics had regenerated a deprived area of London. Whilst completing our project, we met with local businesses and key stakeholders in both London and Glasgow to help us complete our research and develop our recommendations.

After leaving London, we travelled by train to Glasgow and this was the highlight of the program for me. To be in a University which is over 550 years old and walk the grounds was an amazing experience. It was graduation time for the local students when we were visiting and the University was full of students dressed in cloaks, celebrating with their families which was great to see. We spent our time in Glasgow predominately working on our projects which included a number of working dinners and late nights as we were all very committed to the task and producing something that would be taken seriously by our sponsor. We did however manage to squeeze in a site visit to Linn Products who make high end music systems and local Whisky tasting. It was great to visit Linn, their factory was incredibly advanced with widespread use of automation and robotics. After the site tour we were taken to their client space which was fitted out like a home where we had a product demonstration and free time to experience the speakers in different rooms of the ‘house’. It was one of the best examples of sales and marketing I have seen.

Our last day of the program was presentation day. A lot of hours were spent preparing for this day, however it was well worth it. I really enjoyed working on the project as I traditionally work in an analytical role and this helped to develop my strategic skills. It was also great to watch the other students’ presentations and learn about their topics. The day ended with a formal dinner on the University campus and some traditional Scottish dancing which was another highlight.

I am really glad I made the decision to go to ESSAM. I had the opportunity to learn from international lecturers and an international cohort. I met a lot of great people, who through linkedin and facebook I can now keep in touch with.

I really encourage others students to incorporate an overseas program into their MBA as it is a great opportunity to learn in an intense environment, free from the distractions of your everyday life, which increased my commitment to the learning experience.

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By Paula Michelle The 6 weeks from 01 June to mid July 2014 ranks among the highlights of my life so far; no mean call for a ‘mature’ student with more than a few life experiences under my belt.  Fortified by the wisdom of 11 MBA subjects, I landed in France on the last Sunday [...]

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by Suzana Bogosavljevic I’ve wanted to study overseas for a long time and when I realised it was possible within the MBA degree I was determined to take up the option. Then finding out that I had a chance to study in the UK, going from Loughborough to London to Glasgow as part of ESSAM, [...]

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By Roger Sexton I attended ESSAM in the UK  in June 2014 to complete the final two subjects of my Adelaide MBA. It was an excellent experience and probably the most interesting and enjoyable 2 weeks I have spent in a long time. The initial days of the course offered a range of big picture [...]

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By Mark Mathers Half way through my MBA I had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel and study abroad at EBS University in Wiesbaden, Germany. Located a short train ride from Frankfurt, Wiesbaden is a wonderful city and is located in Western Germany. Known for Riesling Wines, Schnitzel, and Castles overlooking the Rhine River, [...]

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The University of Adelaide Business School’s Family Business Education & Research Group (FBERG) is hosting a Family Business Australia event on ‘Adapting to Change’ on Tuesday the 17th of June @ 6pm. Chaired by Dr. Jill Thomas (Research Fellow of FBERG), this session provides a great opportunity to learn from Toby Bensimon of Shiels Jewellers [...]

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Week 1 – Bohdan Wojewidka The first week of the EBS summer program has resulted in us entering into a long weekend.  Many of the attendees are taking advantage of this and have embarked on travel within Germany and Europe. The EBS summer program comprises students from Argentina, Canada, Hungary, the United States and, of [...]

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Damian Scanlon is the current Adelaide MBA Director. Damian has had over 15 years senior executive experience working for major Australian publicly listed companies mainly in the aviation (TNT/Ansett) and mineral processing industries (Adelaide Brighton Ltd & FCT Ltd), with short stints in the banking (ANZ) and oil (Amoco) industries early in his career. Positions [...]

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