The execMBA class of 2017 will spend nine days on an international residency in Prague, Czech Republic, and Munich, Germany. Two execs have volunteered to chronicle their trip as they take a deep dive into global business and contextual intelligence.
Here’s Christine’s take on some of the activities the cohort did in Prague and Munich:
Arriving in Prague
One of the best parts about our cohort is the diversity among the class. Everyone brings different backgrounds, talents, and experiences. Some travel frequently for work. Others are experts in their fields. For instance, if you pass out on a plane and they page doctors on the plane to help out, our cohort is covered (thanks Dr. John!).
We made a quick pit stop in Amsterdam to change planes. Some of us ventured into the city during our layover for some solid Dutch Apple Pie (my sugar consumption went through the roof, but it was totally worth it). The trip across the Atlantic was a great time to catch up with the class, laugh, chat, meet spouses that were accompanying on the trip – good times. We finally landed in Prague, got to the hotel, showered, and started to tackle our jet lag. The agenda balanced company visits with free time so (for me) it didn’t take too long to adjust. I had some of Prague’s most beautiful cocktails while out and about in the city, so that definitely helped!
Prague was outstanding. We visited the University where we received an overview of history and business in Prague. There was an emphasis on bringing business to the Czech Republic and it was great to understand the ‘why’ behind that. We also visited Skoda and Agrofert which were both companies with large local presence in this relatively small country of around 10 million citizens. On our last night in Prague, a few of us went on the most beautiful dinner cruise through Prague. This was a great way to close out our time in the city.
On to Munich
We then ventured by bus into Germany. Some folks in the cohort had visited Germany multiple times before our class visit, on military duty, business, vacation, etc. For others it was the first time. We stopped for lunch in historic Regensburg on our way to Munich. We did a quick tour of the city and got to explore downtown including St. Peter’s Cathedral. It was amazing to see so many buildings that dated back to medieval times and survived catastrophic events such as WW2. One of my favorite parts about Germany was learning about the efforts made to preserve historical landmarks throughout the centuries and events that came with them.
We rolled into Munich after a day of travel and were ready to hit some company visits after a good night’s sleep. We learned it was best to check out the beer gardens as they had just the right recipe to ensure a good night’s sleep… and is Munich on point with the beer garden game!
We visited BMW, General Electric’s Research Facility, and Lowenbrau Brewery. They were all great and provided insight on the industry and strengths that Germany has. I especially loved hearing about GE and what they are doing at their German research center. They are, of course, a global company and one of their main reasons for expanding their locations across the globe was to ensure they were sourcing diverse, top talent while appealing to their global customer base. Some of the spaces that GE is playing in right now include aviation and oil & gas. It was really interesting to hear how that company has re-invented itself time and time again – adapting to the technology, markets and customer needs around them.
After GE we did some sight-seeing in Munich and ensured we filled up on sausage, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and plenty of German beer! I loved having the group together for meals—always sitting with a new group and hearing about different perspectives, reflections and recommendations from the cohort!
On our last day of company visits in Munich, we went to BMW and to Lowenbrau (owned by AB InBev) Brewery to wrap up our company visits. At BMW we were able to see the ‘Welt’ where customers can pick up their newly manufactured vehicles. It was an amazing showroom floor that also showcased the Rolls Royce and Mini brands that they own. We then toured the BMW museum where we saw many years of history that BMW has contributed to. Whether it be building plane engines, motorcycles, or fine luxury cars like what we know today, they are strongly rooted in Germany (hence the name Bavarian Motor Works).
Lowenbrau brewery was a great way to wrap up the company visits. Many of us were comparing production at Lowenbrau to that of what we know with Anheuser Busch in St. Louis. This brewery has such a deeply rooted history in Munich. It was very interesting to learn about how they have been able to preserve the brand, perception, and quality over the years.
Many of us did different activities on our free day (last day in Munich). There were so many events going on (including a major soccer tournament and Britain voting to leave the European Union) that it wasn’t hard to find something fun to do. We’re off to go explore, so I’ll touch base when we all make it back stateside!
Christine Mathews built her career with AT&T, rotating through various roles in the leadership development program. She spent time in marketing analytics, customer care ordering, and retail sales management. Later she moved up through positions in the Digital Life Operations department including Project Manager, Chief of Staff, and Field Ops Market Manager. In 2014, she took the opportunity to serve as Director of Training for AT&T University Operations Training.