Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

The Home Stretch

November 30, 2009
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I’m back in Copenhagen after an amazing 5 day trip home to San Jose, CA for Thanksgiving break. We’re now down to just 3 weeks left in the semester, and it’s become very obvious that our time here is coming to an end. The final exams are coming in droves, and the Facebook invites to semester end parties are landing at an even more furious pace.

It’s very bittersweet to even contemplate the end of this experience. It’s been so jam packed with eventfulness, emotion and learning that it’s hard to digest it all, and I don’t think I’ll really come to terms with it until I’ve been back in the States for awhile.

But in the meantime I’ll be focusing on enjoying every hour I can here (even if I have my head buried in books at the library, which is quite likely over the next 10 days). After my brief excursion to the States, those aspects of Denmark that I really enjoy: biking to school, flødekartoffler, the library at CBS, and most importantly, my friends have come into sharper focus than ever. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to study here, and now I just want to sit back and enjoy it while I can.



November 25, 2009

Life is definitely moving in fast forward at this point. I now have less than 4 weeks left in my grand European adventure. Last weekend, a group of 8 of us headed to Amsterdam for a 3-day vacation to tour the city and check out the sites. Instead of giving a blow-by-blow of the trip though (which included trips to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank House and the Heineken experience, as well as lots of walking around the downtown area)… I thought I would instead share my impressions in relation to other cities I’ve lived in or visited. Amsterdam seemed to me an amalgamation of many other places.

Copenhagen: Obviously, Amsterdam is a European city, and like CPH has an intense focus on bike culture. I thought Copenhagen had many bikes, but Amsterdam takes the cake. But unlike Copenhagen, the bikes literally own the road. There aren’t as many designated bike lanes and so the bikes just kind of come and go as they please. I think every single person on the trip had a near death experience from stepping onto narrow streets into oncoming bike traffic. Big no no in Amsterdam. Also like Copenhagen, Amsterdam’s beautiful canals line the inner core of the city. They were stunning and yielded a number of great photos.

Beautiful city

San Francisco: I loved Amsterdam’s multiculturalism, and it definitely reminded me of San Francisco and the Bay Area. The city is more heterogeneous than Copenhagen, and it shows in the diversity of food (which was simply awesome), the shops that line the streets, and the sea of faces, both tourist and local, from all over the world. I heard many languages spoken: American, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese, Indian, etc.

I Amsterdam

Portland: Like Amsterdam, Portland has the cold, wet winters and a fascination with bike lanes. But Portland is also the first city in America to open a legal cannabis dispensary here marijuana can be openly obtained and consumed on the premises. Of course, Amsterdam is world famous for its coffeeshops where any person over 18 can enter the store, purchase marijuana and smoke it right there in the store. Walking around the city, it was impossible not to notice the scent of weed wafting around from time to time. But on the surface, the Dutch don’t seem to mind, and in fact are taking measures to further regulate how the coffeeshops are run. Considering the desperate economic times in many American states, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the trend spread through more American cities (SF and Oakland, here’s looking at you).

More canals

In any event, it was a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable weekend in one of Europe’s finest cities. Highly recommended for other tourists.

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Quick Update

November 19, 2009
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I know I’ve let this blog go silent for too long, but work has really piled up on top of me, and on top of that, I will be traveling for the next several days. It probably wasn’t the best idea to book all my trips at the end of the semester. D’oh.

But it is what it is, and I have to make the best of the situation. In any case, I’m off to Amsterdam in a few hours, and I promise to have a long blog post detailing our exploits complete with pictures of the experience.

Our time here in CPH is winding down. We only have about a month left to go, and I’ll be doing my best to document as much of it as I can. Have a great weekend everybody!

School Update and COP15

November 11, 2009
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Because this blog is somewhat an encapsulation of my experience I should really share more about why the pace of my blogging has slowed dramatically. Simply put, school is kicking my butt. Due to the trajectory of the courses here, the vast majority of the work is backloaded towards the end of the semester. Here’s what my finals schedule looks like:

Strategic Risk Management: 15-page research paper due Nov 27th

Innovation Management: 30-page team business plan and 20-minute team presentation due December 7th

Advanced Corporate Finance: 4-hour closed book, closed note exam on December 11th

International Logistics Management: 15-page research paper due December 11th

Innovation Management: 15-page research paper due December 22nd

Needless to say, it’s a pretty brutal stretch through late November into December. A lot of research, a lot of writing, and a lot of studying for finance. All of which is to the good. I came here to learn, and the Finance program here is absolutely outstanding. But it’s also requiring a lot of extra time in the library to make sure I don’t fall behind. With trips coming up on Nov 19-22nd to Amsterdam and potentially in mid-December to Stockholm, the time is now to start knocking a lot of this work out. So unfortunately, I will not be able to post as much as I would like to, but I will still keep production up where I can.

One other piece of good news I’d like to share. I’ve been informally invited by CBS to attend “The Greatest Debate on Earth,” a meeting of the world’s top leaders at the COP15 Climate Change Conference. This will be an exceptional opportunity to hear many top officials from around the globe discuss climate change in a forum where the audience will be allowed to ask questions. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to ask a question. So I put the question out to you my readers: What should I ask and to whom?

Blog Absence

November 8, 2009
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Major apologies for the long absence on the blog. I’ve spent the last 72 hours furiously pumping out a 5,000 word paper for my Strategic Risk Management course. That’s a lot of writing. Needless to say, my brain and fingers have been occupied, but I should be back in full blogging force starting tomorrow. Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

The Weather

November 4, 2009
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It seems almost trite to write a blog post about the weather here in Copenhagen, but considering the circumstances, I think now might be the time. Today is November 4th, and it’s snowing outside right now. Hard. Unfortunately I don’t have my camera or I would snap a picture and upload it because it’s a winter wonderland out there right now.

The weather here is about much more than a single instance of snow though. It’s cold here now, and wet (whether rain or snow, but much more common to see the former than the latter). And it gets dark here early, really really early. Like 4:15 pm early.

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, so I’m used to long, cold, dark “days” that seem more like 24-hour nights than anything else, but after 10 years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area and North Carolina, this is a bit shocking even for me. Weather like this makes you just want to curl up in front of a fire and not go outside all day. I can only imagine what my friends from Australia and Brazil are going through in dealing with this.

On the bright side, it certainly does encourage studying. I’m typing this from the library here at CBS, where I’ve been working on my Strategic Risk Management paper, but it’s become very difficult not to look out the window at the snow. Meanwhile, I’m kicking myself because I forgot both my scarf and my hat. It’s going to be a cold ride back to the dorm later this afternoon. But then again, you haven’t really lived until you’ve been biking in 3 degree weather with a -5 wind chill in the dark at 5:00 pm :).

Congratulations NC State NAWMBA!

November 2, 2009
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I have to give a quick shout out of congrats to the NC State NAWMBA (National Association for Women’s MBA) team for taking first place in a national case competition. The team beat out Indiana and Rice in Anaheim, California. Click the link for more information, but this is a fantastic accomplishment for the women involved and for the school.

NC State was also just named one of the top 100 MBA programs in the world by Beyond Grey Pinstripes. Our program is definitely on the up, benefiting from our emphasis on technology and innovation. We feature a unique combination of concentrations ranging from Supply Chain Management to Biosciences to Innovation Management. We also have the traditional Finance and Marketing emphases as well.

From my experience, the program has prepared me well for working in a professional environment and for working cross-culturally here in Denmark. The workload has been rigorous and relevant, and there have also been strong networking opportunities through the faculty and the other students.

NC State has a strong MBA program, and today I feel pretty proud to be a part of it.

Oslo Recap

November 2, 2009
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What a weekend. Although our trip was short (<48 hours), we certainly made the most of it. On Friday afternoon, we left our dormitory and headed for Nordhavn and the boarding area. When we arrived, we realized we would be traveling in style. The boat was absolutely massive, a top notch cruise liner. After boarding around 3:30, we took a trip to the top deck, where I snapped some pictures of the CPH skyline before we left. Here’s my favorite:

Copenhagen Skyline

Nice evening

You can see from the picture the other boat in the dock and how bit it was. And we were looking down on it from the top deck by a good ways. Following a quick tour of the boat, we headed to a brief informational meeting about the cruise liner from 4:00-5:00. Then we had a formal dinner featuring ad libitum wine and an amazing array of food (caviar, salad, steak, potatoes… you get the idea).

It was fantastic to get an opportunity to catch up with many people who I hadn’t seen since Introduction Week. After the initial burst of meeting a couple hundred people, it became very difficult to keep track of everyone, so this was a great chance to reconnect with many friends. Speaking of people, another highlight of the trip was meeting my roommates in the ship room. I shared a cabin with three other guys, one American, one German, and one Swiss. Talk about a good group of guys, we managed to have a great time and not get in the way of each other too much despite the small size of the room. Check this picture out:

Ship Room

Tight spaces

And yea, that’s a room for 4 people, not two. Those are fold out beds on either side of the picture frame. Whew. But it didn’t really matter too much because we didn’t spend hardly any time in the room. Between the boat tour, the dinner, and the disco party that followed we only had a few hours of sleep on Friday night.

The next morning, we woke up around 8:30 am and headed downstairs for an all you can eat breakfast buffet. The food definitely hit the spot, and we were ready to go tour Oslo. However, with several hundred young tourists headed out, I realized it would be virtually impossible to move quickly enough in the 6 hours given to us to really see much. So I grabbed one of my friends, Carolina (love that name), and said, “Look, the two of us should head out to the Sculpture Garden. It will be so much faster and easier to get around if we split up.” Needless to say, she agreed, and off we went.

Over the rest of the morning and afternoon, we managed the following:

  • Walk to the Vigeland Sculpture Park
  • Walk back through the downtown area admiring the amazing Oslo architecture and hilly countryside
  • Stop for lunch at Bagel/Juice to spend $15 for a bagel sandwich
  • See the changing of the guard at the Parliament Building
  • Catch the Metro to the other side of the city
  • Toured the Munch Museum, home of one of the most famous paintings in the world: The Scream
  • Managed to get slightly lost on the way back, but found our way again

Needless to say, it was an action-packed 6 hours. Here are a few photo highlights:

Carolina and Ryan at Vigeland

Awesome travel companion

The Kiss

Favorite Munch: The Kiss

The Murderer

Second favorite Munch: The Murderer

Here are a few other impressions from Oslo:

  1. The Norwegians seemed a little more friendly to us than the Danes typically are. I’m not sure if this is because the Norwegians are generally a little less reserved than their counterparts, or if it was simply a function of Carolina and I being a traveling duo, instead of a huge group. But needless to say, people were very friendly to us, offering help and directions on the street and in Bagel/Juice.
  2. Oslo was a more unique city than i was expecting, and that was a good thing. The hills surrounding the downtown area were gorgeous. The architecture was superb, and the large parks and walking streets really made the city seem peaceful and welcoming. Unfortunately, there were no bike lanes though, but I can understand that to an extent considering how much more hilly Oslo is than Copenhagen.
  3. Six hours wasn’t nearly enough to see everything. Even though we had an action packed day, there was still soooo much more to see. If only I had my snowboard, I would have definitely planned a trip up to the mountains.

After our day touring the city, we headed back to the boat. As the sun was setting, myself and one of my roommates headed out to the hot tubs on the back of the boat to check the skyline before we headed out. This is what we were greeted with (and unfortunately the picture really doesn’t do it justice):

Oslo Skyline

View from the hot tub

Needless to say, we had another great dinner and party on the way back to Copenhagen that night. All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and Oslo is definitely on the list of places I want to come back to the next time I’m in Europe.