OneMBA Global Residency Europe
The second Global Residency for the 2017 OneMBA cohort took place in March. This time, Europe was the location, with Rotterdam and Warsaw as our host cities. ‘Hey, I read your blog!’ was the first thing I heard from one of my friendly peers from Brazil when checking in at the hotel. A great start to the residency on Sunday afternoon in Rotterdam. Later that evening we all met for dinner on the Speedo boat. We cruised on the river Maas, from which we had impressive views of the many 18th century windmills at Kinderdijk, and later on stunning views of the immense port of Rotterdam.. what a beautiful contrast!
Many interesting sessions were in store for us lead by renowned faculty and company speakers. Among others, Jan-Peter Balkenende, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, who gave us his insights on the social, political and sustainable challenges and opportunities in Europe. He had already chatted informally with a number of students in the bar the night before.
Both in Rotterdam and in Warsaw there were a number of company visits to choose from. My group went to Ism eComany where Tim Beyer, the COO, gave an inspiring presentation about how the company manages to sustain their impressive growth. Afterwards, we were treated to a tour of the repurposed Van Nelle factory (formerly a coffee, tea and tobacco factory), a UNESCO World Heritage Building and one of the many architectural highlights of Rotterdam.
On Wednesday, we flew to Poland, where we saw a different side of Europe. There was a new line-up of top speakers that gave us different perspectives and insights into the history of Poland and the transformation Central Eastern Europe has been going through since joining the EU. Strong women speakers were well represented at this residency. Grazyna Piotrowska-Oliwa, currently CEO of Virgin mobile and former CEO of state-controlled oil and gas company (PGNiG), told us about her experiences running private and state owned companies in Poland.
On Saturday evening, we had a tour of the beautifully restored Royal Castle of Warsaw. Afterwards, we enjoyed the closing dinner in the magnificent castle vaults. Our host, the Gdansk Foundation for Management, excelled in organising a very memorable evening; tasty Polish dishes, live music and dance made for the perfect ending to an intense week.
Interesting questions again from my kids when I arrived back home: did you misbehave and get punished by the teacher (no!) and did you have gym classes like we do at school? More exercise during the residency is in fact a great suggestion, with so much good food and drinks ‘till late at night in the bar. Not much exercise, but we did all treat each other to a massage. Lucky me.. my Chinese peer turned out to be a qualified masseur!
Unfortunately, the threats and social tensions in Europe we had been discussing, became very real. On Tuesday after the residency, Brussels came under attack. As many peers were still traveling it was a relief to hear everybody had made it home safely. We will all be watching the situation in Europe closely and I hope this tragic event will not be divisive, but instead will help to bring people closer together.