When one enters an MBA institute what they are really looking for is to network with peers, alum and professionals, to learn from the vast experience of industry stalwarts and professors, to hone their skills, to land in their dream job, and of course to gain an international perspective.
To have an understanding of the different business cultures is important nowadays because, as future managers, we would be working in Multinational Corporations, enabling organizations to enter into new geographical and cultural regions and gain a global presence. It is with this perspective that the Top B-Schools are establishing relationships with each other to allow for Student exchange programs to take place. SJMSOM provides these opportunities, along with many others, by having tie-ups with various foreign institutes to achieve this end.
A group of 12 students travelled to Telecom Ecole De Management, Paris on a 15-day study tour. I was one of the 12 students and it was one of the most enriching, intellectually and culturally, fun-filled, exciting and wondrous experiences I have had.
The story begins not from the day when 8 of us boarded from Mumbai for Delhi, where we were joined by the rest of the gang to travel to Frankfurt, but from the day the 12 of us were selected to travel to Paris on a study tour. If the one-month long trip was memorable, the month long planning and preparation phase was just as fun – deciding what all places to visit, learning neat tricks for affordable and clean accommodation bookings, getting the visa, shopping, packing the suitcases with all possible food and all the activities before going on such a long journey, I remember how I took everything extra till that airline weight limits stopped me from carrying more things.
After too much planning, excitement and anticipations, the day finally arrived when we landed in Frankfurt. We were charged up from the moment we landed trying to enjoy every second and every single thing we came across so much so, that while appreciating the transportation system, one of us suddenly realized that his laptop bag containing his passport was missing. Yes, on the very first day, we were running to the Indian Embassy and police station to get him a temporary passport. Given the circumstances everything was managed smoothly and now the story is one among our favorite memories, to be laughed about every time we relive the best moments our journey.
We expertly maneuvered our study tour at Paris perfectly between two legs of our trip. Before reaching to Paris we went to Prague and Switzerland from Frankfurt and the rest of the Europe was to be conquered after the Winter school. We then travelled to Paris for our 15-day stint at TEM Paris.
The Winter School at TEM was taught by leading professors in the field of Management, Information and Communications Technologies. In the power packed two weeks we had sessions on diverse topics like Supply Chain Networks by Professor Sam Dzever, Introduction to European Economy and its history by Dr. Michel Berne and the French Perspective on Human Resource Management by Prof. Bhumika Gupta (our POC for arranging the study tour).
We also had comprehensive workshops on Negotiation and Conflict Management taken by Dr. Thomas Guedj and User Interface Design. We also had interns from Allianz and Alcatel Lucent to come in and talk to us about their companies and their internship experience. We substantiated our classroom learning about the European business and cultural environment with field visits to Linagora, an open-source software start-up, UNESCO, Paris, European Commission Brussels and European Parliamentarium – Visitor’s Centre, Brussels.
At Linagora we got the amazing opportunity to interact with the enthusiastic employees and the founder of Linagora – Mr. Alexandre Zapolsky, who shared with us the current progress and his vision for the future for Linagora.
At the Parliamentarium, through innovativeness and advanced technology, the history of the foundation of the European Union and the role of the European Parliament in the decision making process was explained. At the European Commission, we were given a better understanding of the processes and policy decisions taken by the Commission.
The visit to UNESCO office was an introspective journey into the dire need to recognize and mitigate the worsening environmental conditions through steps taken by individuals, organizations, countries and the world at large. During the intense discussions with the officials we also touched upon the topic of women empowerment and progress of information technology and UNESCO’s initiatives on the same.
While in the morning we were stimulated by the discussions with the students of TEM and lectures by the Professors, in the evenings we enjoyed the chilling walks in the streets of Paris, admired the architecture of Notre Dame and enraptured by the view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. On the weekends we furthered explored the delights of Paris, visited the Palace of Versailles and relived the joys of being a child at Disneyland.
On the final day at TEM we were addressed by the Dean of TEM – Chris Wert and Dr. Bhumika Gupta. We left TEM with new friends and better understanding of the international business environment.
From Paris we further explored more of Europe and admired the craft and beauty of the Moreno glass and enjoyed a twilight Gondola ride in Venice, traversed the happening streets of Milan, leaned against the Leaning tower of Pisa, crossed bridges in Florence and finally basked in the bloody yet glorious history of Rome and the Vatican City. 7 countries, 11 cities in 1 month. It was one of the most memorable experience with a set of amazing people. I take this opportunity to thank you guys for the wonderful time and advice everyone that going on such study tours doesn’t just impart technical knowledge but it also bonds you with people in ways that well I am still figuring out.
About the Author:
Ms. Richa Garg is a student of Master of Management, Class of 2017 at SJMSOM, IIT Bombay.