This time, SSE MBA student Mary Fisher shares her diary following the week-long study trip to Silicon Valley. Find out what it's like to be an MBA student at Stockholm School of Economics and decide whether the rigorous degree will help you take the next step in your career.
Mary Fisher, Director of the National Academy of Design, a non-profit arts organization in New York.
'The classes were intense, and the days were long, but we heard a wide variety of amazing Bay Area-based speakers and got a firsthand look at what makes Silicon Valley tick. We also had great experiences outside of class like going to the Stanford football game, visiting downtown San Francisco, and some saw Bob Dylan in concert or visited Napa Valley.'
The school week began with a walk exploring the Stanford campus which was beautiful and had a distinctive West Coast feel. Every Monday, we begin with a reflection and this week underscored unbelievable fact that we are halfway through the program. In the morning, we studied international marketing strategy, a subject I had been looking forward to diving into. After lunch, Josh Reynolds, a strategic advisor in the Bay Area, presented “A view from the Valley” and spoke with us about storytelling, innovation, and persuasion. Next, we made a company visit to Plug and Play, an innovation platform, that brings together the best startups and the world’s largest corporations. It was incredible to get a first hand look at innovation of this calibre. We ended the day at Fogarty Winery tasting five wines, catching up, and overlooking amazing scenery.
We began with strategic management in the morning, a very important topic to me because at my organization we are currently in a strategic planning process and the topic and models covered are immediately applicable. Over lunch, Guryan Tighe, communications strategist, spoke to us about, “Fear as an Accelerator for Change”, and we examined how we handle fear at work and how to manage it. In the afternoon, we continued with strategic management and worked in our project groups. After dinner, a highlight of the week with a panel with four entrepreneurs from the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce followed by a wine social.
Wednesday morning was the last session for strategic management this week. Over lunch I worked with my group for the innovation and entrepreneurship course to test some of our ideas we will be exploring the coming months. In the second half of the afternoon, we were treated to a conversation with Woody Powell on the emergence of novelty and cooking up success. It was interesting to look at the phenomenon of Silicon Valley from a sociological standpoint. Afterwards, we met with the professor of the strategy course, Patrick Regnér, in small groups to get feedback on our group’s topic. Finally, we ended the night with burgers and a “cheers” to a very long and productive day.
We had two speakers on Thursday. Mark Morgan spoke in the morning and Ray Levitt in the afternoon, about their book “Executing Strategy How to Break It Down and Get it Done”. It was another incredibly useful and practical session that I will apply to my work place upon return. After lunch, we made company visits. Some students went to San Francisco, some visited companies in Palo Alto. One of my colleagues, who also directs an art organization, and I went to the Stanford Museum to explore how their institution is organized. In addition, after speaking learning so much about Apple, we couldn’t resist a picture with the blessing of Bill Gates by the artist Kwame Akoto. That evening, for a truly cultural experience, we went to the Stanford vs. UCLA football game and ended the night with a Mexi-Cali dinner and drinks at a local Stanford student bar.
The first half of the day was packed with presentations from our marketing groups. In the afternoon, Kevin Scott from Silicon Valley Bank presented on the current state of Venture Capital in the Valley. To cap off the week, we gathered on the terrace of the Stanford faculty club for a wine social with SSE alumna Karen Kessner who did a Q&A on the differences between living in Silicon Valley and Stockholm. We all said our goodbyes and headed to the airport excited to meet again back in Stockholm in November.
This article was produced by The Local's Creative Studio and sponsored by Stockholm School of Economics.