Football and ESMT Berlin

Football at esmt berlin

It was the last minute, a throw-in ball came in between two defenders. It was only the keeper that stood between the paths to victory. This was not a FIFA World Cup final, nor was it Ronaldo up against Buffon. This was just a bunch of exuberant, energetic master’s in management students from ESMT Berlin playing football. 

The energy was high and the passion intense as the ESMT MIM students tackled their way across the football field. I ran against the wind on the pitch, racing past defenders and succeeding to score. I was a thousand miles from my hometown, yet I felt like I was at home.

We quickly came together as a team, admiring and appreciating each other’s performances. It was as though we had known each other and played together for years. We gave each other generous nicknames, such as the “Pakistani Benzema,” the “Lebanese Bazooka,” and “Milan’s Pirlo.”

What makes ESMT Berlin speciaL?

It was interesting to see the talent that the different countries had to offer. I definitely amazed people who had thought that Pakistan did not know anything about football. Coming from a non-footballing country, I felt special playing with Germans, Italians, and Spaniards. This dream is made into reality at ESMT Berlin, where we have 39 different nationalities studying for the MIM 2017-2019 Program.

On the football pitch, I realized that the students from ESMT Berlin’s MIM Program are special. Not only are they focused on academia, they are equally involved in extracurricular activities. ESMT Berlin is a perfect mix of diversity in all aspects, yet somehow, together under one roof, we are all trying to reach a common goal and helping one another along the way. I think that is what makes ESMT Berlin special.

My First Month at ESMT Berlin

By Jack (Wen-Jui) Liu

I was adding to-do lists to my calendar when I realized that I moved to Berlin almost 3 months ago. Time flies and there are a lot of new things going on in my life. Before sharing my story with you, I would like to tell you why I chose to study at ESMT Berlin .

Why ESMT Berlin?

ESMT Berlin

Location

I have always been a city person. Compared to the other places: TIAS in Utrecht and ESSEC in Cergy-Pontoise, Berlin seems like a better fit for me. On top of that, as a person who does not speak any other European language apart from English, Berlin is a very international city where English is understood everywhere so that I would not have many difficulties living there.

Diversity Backgrounds of Fellow Students

According to the information I got from the school brochure and the interviewer, there are more than 30 nationalities in the program and they all come from different academic backgrounds. Due to previous experiences, I know that many sparks can be created in this kind of multicultural environment.

Chances to Gain Practical Experiences

At ESMT, we have to do at least 4 months of internship and one social impact project. Compared to other business schools, which are more academic oriented, I believe that I can gain more business knowledge connected to the real world.

Life at ESMT

After a very busy first month, I have noticed many differences from my undergraduate studies and I am very happy that I made the choice to come here.

“A LOT OF” Readings

In order to finish most of the courses before doing an internship, ESMT’s schedule can be intense sometimes. You might have to read 30 to 60 pages in preparation for the class. I am not going to sugarcoat this part. Sometimes you might feel stressed out and that you are not able to finish everything in time or you feel like you are “studying all the time”. However, after a month you will get the hang of it and realize that there is still some time left for you to enjoy your life in this amazing city.

Multicultural Hub

This is one of the main reasons I chose ESMT and so far, this is my favorite part of the program. We have 89 people with 39 nationalities in our class. Every time we are discussing something during the class or within the study group, I am amazed by how different our perspectives can be because of our different cultural and academic backgrounds. In the meantime, I am learning a lot from this environment and I am on the way to gaining a more international mindset.

Oktoberfest

Interactive Course

The professors at ESMT use very interactive teaching methods. Students are encouraged to communicate their own ideas during the course. As a student from Taiwan, I still remember the “shock” that I felt seeing 50 hands in the air after the professor asked a question. If you are not used to speaking in front of so many people, you might need some time to adjust, as I had to. At first, it was quite hard to force myself to raise my hand in class, but now I have managed to share my opinions a few times already.

Life in Berlin

Berlin is one of the biggest cities in Europe. It is a beautiful city with a very interesting historical background. Most importantly, you feel the vibes of the city and live like a “Berliner”.

Public Transportation or Bike

Cycling in Berlin

The Berlin public transportation system is convenient and very well connected. Even on weekdays, you can still catch some night bus to get home at 2am in the morning. Just remember to download an app called “BVG Fahrinfo” where you can find all available connections, so you get to where you need to be. The other common transportation that a “Berliner” commonly uses is the bike. Berlin has one of the most well planned bicycle lanes in the world. You just need to observe carefully the traffic signals for the bikers and you will be fine.

Accommodation

Finding an apartment in Berlin can be quite dreadful, especially if you do not speak German. The housing market is short in supply, so you have to compete with many other applicants. Alternatively, you can try out some international student resident housing for a start. Most of them have contacts who speak English. They might be a little overpriced, but if you want to save some troubles, it is a good option.

Night Life

I wouldn’t call myself a “party animal” but it is always good to go partying after a long week at school. Berlin is one of the biggest party cities in Europe. Besides, if you are a big techno fan you will feel like you are in heaven. If you are more of a hip-hop or pop music person like me, you can still find some places to go.  If you are not keen on clubbing, there are plenty of bars everywhere. The best part is the price of alcohol in Berlin, which is very affordable compared to London or Paris.

BE “WHO U ARE”

I think this is the most important thing I love about Berlin. No matter who you are, you can always find a place in this city and just be yourself. You might see people with more than 30 piercings or dressed up exceptionally on the U-Bahn, but nobody will give them a weird look. People mostly don’t care whether you are heterosexual or homosexual. You can just be who you are and feel totally comfortable.

I am very glad that I came to ESMT in Berlin. Although sometimes I still miss home and there are always some difficulties in life, which you have to deal with, so far, I am still very happy about my choice. I am 95% sure that I will still feel the same way after I complete these two years at ESMT.

 

Green Colleges promote agriculture, economic development in rural India

By Shruti Vasudev and Leonhard Fricke

It has been a month since Leonhard and I, both ESMT Responsible Leaders Fellows, have been in India working with Welthungerhilfe, and our journey has been nothing less than spectacular. In this past month, we have travelled to several places in India and worked with people from different religions, languages, and societal strata. GIZ has given funds to Welterhungerhilfe to set up “Green Colleges” across India. This initiative promotes sustainable rural development via capacity building and assistance in setting up and promoting microenterprises and other sustainable forms of income generation to control rural-urban migration. The project we took on places us as external consultants for Welthungerhilfe India, and our role is tripartite, wherein we first perform an impact evaluation of the project to date, then based on this we develop a business plan, and eventually assist with defining a brand strategy for scaling up the project.

So far about 15 Green Colleges have been set up in 5 Indian states, and we had the opportunity to visit one of them two weeks ago to get a first impression. We travelled to Aurangabad, a city in the state of Maharashtra, by means of a super comfortable sleeper bus, observing beautiful landscapes pass by. Upon arrival, we were received by our hosts, who are also the officials running the IIRD Green College in Aurangabad (the most recently established Green College). We had a series of field visits planned with them where they would not only show us the running of the Green College but also give us the opportunity to conduct focus group sessions with their staff and the past and current beneficiaries.

Several presentations and discussions later it was a true joy to walk into a running training session on goat rearing and watch almost 30 local villagers keen to make a living by perfecting the art. They were delighted to have us over; many of the villagers here are not educated above high school level but their determination to learn and apply their knowledge was clearly notable in their zeal during the discussions. They told us all about how they feel these courses support them as they set out to make a living for their families.

It was also a joy to see many women attending the sessions. Despite belonging to a predominantly patriarchal society, they were just as determined to contribute to their families’ earnings—perhaps an early sign of long overdue change and economic development in rural India.

We then visited the farm of two of IIRD Green College’s recent graduates who completed a course in poultry management and have even established their own microenterprise. As a result of their training, the two sons of a poor farmer who once relied on the unpredictable monsoon to support the family’s income through sugarcane plantation have now established a year-round sustainable income. Their happy faces, the pride in their father’s eyes as they showed off their new business to us, and the satisfaction visible among the IIRD Green College staff who took us on the field visit was truly a delightful sight.

Something that Leo and I learned that day was that no matter how small the impact you think you may be making, its effects are always magnified when done with dedication and commitment to the greater cause. We were also amused to see how hospitable the poor farmer and his family were—as soon as we arrived they rushed to bring us water and fresh fruit from their farm. Their big hearts despite their shallow pockets were admirable!

Next, we were taken to another village where the IIRD Green College staff along with other CSR contributors had established a water conservation project to support the village farmers. The village, run by its “sarpanj,” welcomed us in their meeting hall, where all the key villagers had gathered to witness our arrival and assist us in our project. A small ceremony was performed where Leo and I were each presented with a shawl and a coconut. We were told that Indians believe that “a guest is the equivalent of God.” That is why we were given this special welcome as guests of the entire village.

We were then taken to various village farms and shown the different drip irrigation methods employed by the farmers after training at the IIRD Green College. They told us about how their lives had improved because of the assistance of Welthungerhilfe and the Indian government. We conducted various focus group sessions here to understand the full impact so far and its potential future scope.

Overall, in the course of this one month, we have seen and learned a great deal about rural India, the efforts by the local governments and external agencies such as Welthungerhilfe to uplift the economy, and about the grassroot-level agricultural industry. Over the next months we will endeavour to travel to East India to study the impacts of the Green Colleges there through a series of field visits, case studies, focus group sessions, and surveys.

Along with our work schedule, we have also managed to establish a good sightseeing balance—each time we visit a new city or state we try to accommodate some exploration into the local culture, food, and architecture. For instance, in Aurangabad we had the chance to visit the famous Ellora Caves as well as the mini Taj Mahal known as the Bibi ka Makbara.

The Internship Experience

For me, the main selling point of ESMT Berlin besides its accreditation and rankings were the Internship and the Social Impact Projects. Since it was well placed in the curriculum for you to apply all that you learn and also notice the personal development as you progress. The internship so far has nothing but exceeded my expectations.

Finding Internships (Painful but worth the wait)

After some struggle to find internships, and all a bit of frustration of not being able to find one very easily, I am currently an intern in the strategic team of DHL Supply Chain in Bonn (small but beautiful city in western Germany). My job includes analyzing some key strategic focus areas for the group operations as well as analyzing some operational KPIs on a monthly basis. I work in a team of 5 people, all coming from different nationalities and culture, and thankfully my work is only in English.

Academics/Theory  (Stressful but Useful)

Before the internship, we had several courses which are quite helpful in my current role. Courses such as Operation Management, Strategic Analysis as well as Marketing Management were particularly helpful for me personally. I found the courses sometimes stressful but definitely useful. Most of the professors made an effort to make the theory as close to practical situations as possible. Overall, the internship really brings things that you study into perspective.

European Summer (Fun and Beautiful)

The timing of internship is right during the summer break, and that meant many events such as Barbecues and fun bar night outs at work. And the decent sized intern community at DHL really helped settling in. Additionally, I have been using this time to travel around Europe as well.

Learning and Experiences (Ample)

The internship gives you a lot of opportunity to have fun. But more opportunities to learn and use the theoretical background and to observe how its been used in the practical scenario. I have been pleasantly surprised at the working culture and the kind of responsibility that is asked of an intern. You are as actively involved in a summer party as in team meetings. I have particularly enjoyed the working culture at DHL and its emphasis on diversity and teamwork. To be able to witness the innovations and to learn more about supply chain in general has been a great start to the working life in Germany!

The best 50c I spent in the MBA

I stood in the middle of a crowded street, people weaving past me, their bags occasionally bumping into me as they hurried past. Around me chatter in Swahili from families and couples doing their shopping. I can hear the occasional vendor singing his inventory to attract customers. To the left of me, a man selling knives breaks into a demonstration for a woman and tells her, “Nothing sharper than this madam.” I could spend all week watching the people on Tom Mboya Street. Describing how every person is the heart of a business transaction, how the smart talking salesman can sway a person going about their chores and magically turn them into a satisfied customer when they never even knew the product they bought existed this morning.

To make this story make sense, I need to tell you a little about me. I’m in love with entrepreneurship. I’ve loved every chance to study it during my MBA program. From the International Field Seminar trips to London and Tel Aviv, to networking with founders and advising participants in accelerators and incubators, to classes on how to be an entrepreneur, investment rounds and venture capitalists, I have loved EVERY WORD spoken about Entrepreneurship during my studies, which since we are based in one of the best tech start-up cities is A LOT!! Unfortunately, I’d begun to associate all start-ups with technology. And even worse, I was beginning to frame successful entrepreneurship with models based in developed countries, I was beginning to think that a business that doesn’t disrupt an industry, or one that isn’t supported by government and infrastructure had no hopes of being successful. Till I was standing in Mboya Street. Something that at first looked so foreign and chaotic, began to look passionate, organized when instead of dismissing it, I used my training to I look at it from the business perspective. I could spend all day talking about the beauty of doing business in the underground economy and how elegant, delicate and endearing entrepreneurship is in Africa but today I want to tell you about my journey to Kiambu.

I’m only on Tom Mboya Street to catch a matatu to Kiambu. In case you haven’t been to Nairobi, look at the picture, (taken from my very terrible phone and google)

Tom Mboya Street, Nairobi

 

 

The roads are filed with matatu’s. These small minibuses are public transport. They are a private industry. While matatus get licenses from the government, the system of which matatu takes which route and when is largely regulated by the drivers and their conductors (conductors are the individuals who partner with drivers and are responsible for collecting money and getting customers)

This is my first time going and I have no idea how to get there besides vague instructions from a friend. I’m nervous to ask since my Swahili is all google translate based. But there is no need. The conductor approaches me. He asks me what I need. And here the businessman in him seizes the opportunity. “Where are you going my sister?”  He eases all the uncertainty I was feeling, and assures me, his bus is the right one. I enter his empty matatu. As I sit in the heavily decorated matatu, I realize the passion Matatu owners have. We often don’t see it as that in our daily lives… but take a look at the picture of the matatu I’m in… this man is clearly passionate about Kobe Bryant and his business. These matatus are often covered head to toe in pictures of an inspiring leader e.g. Bob Marley, Martin Luther King. Secretly, I dream of the day I see a matatu covered in pictures and quotes about me.

As I look around I realize there are other matatus filling up and leaving before ours. I stand up ready to search for another one, but the conductor catches me and convinces me to stay. He offers to show me where to stop and which road to take to reach my destination. He makes himself the best option and I sit down. Finally, the journey starts, I and 18 other passengers, fit in a 15-passenger bus. Somehow, he’s found a way to stretch his goals to increase utilization.

As I’m nervously checking the route, trying to find any of the landmarks my friend described I notice a police block. As the bus driver slows down to stop, the risk-taking conductor jumps out of the still moving matatu and goes over to negotiate the “penalty”. He’s back before I’ve even had time to count the number of police at the road block. (A story for another day is how I find in Zimbabwe police road blocks are where you find the highest density of government employees, but that’s for another day.) Before long we are now going up a hill, the car slows down and even with my basic understanding of car engines, I can sense something is wrong. I can feel panic begin to creep up me… until I notice the driver is turning into a gas station. He eases in and the conductor jumps out and gets the matatu refuelled. I realize the two-man team knew exactly when they needed to refuel, they had planned this journey up to the number of kilometres to the gas station. At this point the conductor calls for my attention- he’s telling me it’s my stop. As I descend he’s holding a pregnant lady’s bag so she can enter the matatu with ease. I’m amazed at the level of care he takes with his customers- amazing people/customer relationship management. The best part of this journey is it’s only cost me the equivalent of USD0.50, true value for money.

 

There are many models to use to study business, we learnt some key ones at ESMT, but the Responsible Leaders Fellowship gave me a chance to apply the models. I loved watching business in Nairobi and Harare, realizing the similarities between Amazon and a flea market, how street vendors are like pop up ads on a site, knowing when and how to enter your line of sight and get a sale; or how Uber gives you a map as rider so you can make sure you know where you’re going, similarly, in a matatu the driver assures me continuously I’m on the right route. But most importantly I loved working with Welthungerhilfe’s farmers on treating farming as a business. Doing trainings on analysing output, increasing efficiencies and record keeping was such an amazing experience. Discussing and working on what elements of a digital platform would be valuable to farmers and working on a strategy for Kenya and Zimbabwe with the organization reminded me, business can change the world positively.