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execMBA in Europe: Introducing Blogger John Fowler [International Residency]

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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.

We checked in with blogger John Fowler for his pre-residency thoughts just a few days before the cohort departed:

Preparing for Europe

This will be the first time I have traveled to Europe in 23 years. The summer prior to my freshman year of high school I participated in a young scholars program associated with Truman State University called the Joseph Baldwin Academy. Along with a handful of students from the Midwest, I spent three weeks studying European art and architecture. Some of the major cities we visited were Amsterdam, Cologne, London, and Paris, where I celebrated my 14th birthday. It was a great experience for a kid who grew up in a small farming community. Since that time, my overseas travel has been comprised mainly of beach vacations in Mexico and the Caribbean. In 2012 I traveled to Asia for the first time with the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program. During the two week trip we visited Hong Kong, mainland China, and India.

Needless to say, I am very interested to see how Europe has changed over the past two decades. The European Union was created shortly after I made it back to the U.S. in 1993. The Czech Republic, while not a communist state at the time, has seen over two decades of democratic rule. To my surprise, one of the 30 pictures I took during my visit to Stonehenge actually had me in it! This was definitely well before the age of “selfies,” or – as one of my execMBA classmates has perfected – Snapchat. I am sure that, as a 36-year-old, I will have a much better appreciation for the countries we will be visiting.


Excitement and Concerns

I have no apprehensions about the International Business course, the travel, or the time spent in Prague and Munich. During my time in sales I have become accustomed to spending many hours in airports and hotels.

I do, however, have two major concerns when we are overseas. The first is the balancing act I need to play between school and work. The second, and most important apprehension I have, is on a personal level. This will be the longest I have been away from home since my son JJ was born. It is challenging being gone on a two-day trip for work, let alone over a week. I know I am not alone. Many in the program have kids and/or a significant other. We would not be able to go on this trip without the support of those closest to us. I am going to miss my first Father’s Day, which I am extremely disappointed about. It’s a good thing there’s Skype and Facetime! I will be able to manage these issues, but they will be at the top of my mind.

Overall, it will be an exciting trip! More to come. M-I-Z…

John Fowler, Class of 2017John Fowler grew up in Unionville, a small town in northern Missouri just south of the Iowa border. He graduated with a BS in Agricultural Education from the University of Missouri in December 2001.

He started with a job in customer service with the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturer, PotashCorp, and has since held several positions of increasing responsibility with the company. After almost a decade in sales he was promoted to the position of Director, Product Management – Nitrogen.

He lives in Chicago with his wife Sara, and they have a lively three-month-old son named JJ.




Featured photo credit: Kathryn Lucchesi

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