Author: Olin Around the Globe

avatar

About Olin Around the Globe

Olin has more than 20 global experience opportunities in 14+ countries – including study abroad, internships, summer programs, class trips and international exchanges. For more information on undergraduate programs, contact Damian Whitney, damianmwhitney@wustl.edu. For information on graduate level programs, contact Sarah Miller, sarah.miller@wustl.edu. For information on CEL programs, contact ejdoores@wustl.edu.


Guest blogger: Joseph (Hyeonjin)Park, BSBA, Class of 2019

Every college student has been told, “find a career that makes you happy.”

Unfortunately, as most college students also realize, finding what makes you happy can be extremely difficult. Even if we know what makes us happy now, how do we know that it’ll make us happy for the rest of our lives? This was a question I had struggled with as my sophomore year came to a close, but instead of starting a search to find my passions, I chose to travel to Madagascar with classmates in a course called, “Sustainable Development and Conservation: Madagascar.”*

I had been working on a project throughout the semester on a four-man team to both improve the lives of the people there and make the country more environmentally sustainable. I’ve always had some interest in social work so I was happy to be there, but the specific project was less than glamorous to say the least.

My team’s project involved burning the feces of a zebu (an animal similar to a cow) to create an alternative source of fuel for fires. One of the methods used to burn animal waste for cooking fuel is pictured above.

Zebu, an animal in Madagascar, similar to a cow in the US.

90% of Madagascar’s plant life is endemic, meaning those species only grow in Madagascar. As a result, preserving the country’s forests is crucial; and while the villagers know this, their heavy reliance on wood-fueled fires for cooking and heating makes it difficult to do so.

To solve this issue, our team found an alternate resource to use to reduce the amount of wood burned. I spent days cooking animal waste, experimenting with different quantities and methods. After many trials and errors, we left the village with a couple of different ways to burn the feces, and laid groundwork for further innovation.

Lunch with the local villagers.

What was surprising to me, however, was the attitude of the villagers who helped us. We were doing one of the crappiest jobs possible, literally, and throughout the two weeks we worked, I heard almost no complaints. As a matter of fact, I witnessed the complete opposite: the villagers joked and laughed about working with animal dung, and were not hesitant at all to get their hands dirty.

It was amazing to me that the job we were doing had such little influence on the happiness of these people. How was it possible that these people could be happy spending their days burning feces, while back in the U.S. so many people are unhappy with their high-paying, air-conditioned jobs?

Even though I wasn’t able to decide on my perfect career this summer, I realized that I don’t need a perfect career to be happy. I feel comforted knowing that whether my job is as prestigious as working at a Fortune 500 company or as crappy as burning feces, my level of happiness will depend entirely on my attitude.

As a person who continually strives for improvement, I often find myself looking to push myself for more and more, and while that is important, I need to take some pauses and have some fun on my journey. On a similar note, I have made it my goal to balance searching for my “perfect career path” and accepting that it doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect. With this mindset, I feel that my career path is much more free, and that as long as I can strike this balance, I’ll be happy.

*Judi McLean Parks, Reuben C. and Anne Carpenter Taylor Professor in Organizational Behavior, has been leading this interdisciplinary course since 2008 in partnership with the Missouri Botanical Garden designed to improve economic development with sustainable and environmentally friendly projects that range from agriculture to energy in the rural villages of the Mahabo region of Madagascar. Mahabo is located on the southeastern edge of Madagascar, an island nation southeast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.




Guest blogger: Sabrina Alexandre, Glazer Global Learning Scholarship Recipient, visited Hungary in May as a member of the Venture Advising Consulting Course. She will also be studying abroad next Spring in Scotland.

A Visit to the House of Terror
“Americans are united by a shared image of the future, but Hungarians are united by a shared image of the past.”

We were all sitting around the conference room table for our first day at the firm in Budapest when our professor stated those words. He was close to wrapping up a PowerPoint on Hungarian history when he started to share his past experiences living in the US. He shared a long list of differences between the two countries but he wanted us to understand how powerful a nation’s shared vision can be. For Hungarians, the past was something too fresh in their collective memory for them to escape.

One place we visited brought that vision of the past to life: the House of Terror. Something with the name “House of Terror” almost seemed villainesque, like the lair of the evil doer from your favorite cartoon as a kid. Everything about the outside felt grand and dramatic and it built up a lot anticipation. You could spot the building from blocks away in all directions. It was this tall gray fixture at the end of street. The neutral color did nothing to camouflage the building among its neighbors because one look above and you can see giant steel plates plunging out of the building with the letters RORRET meticulously carved into them. When the light shines through the letters, the word gets flipped and along the side of the building in big, bold and glowing letters to spell out TERROR.

The House of Terror is the museum that holds the shared Hungarian vision. Inside that building is the story of the country under both Nazi and Soviet occupation. Until recently, the people of Hungary were under the strict control of the Soviet Union and before that, they were occupied by the Nazis during World War II. Generations of Hungarians were held captive in their own homes.

The House of Terror was split down the middle. Half of the museum was dedicated to the atrocities of World War II and the other half showcased the terrors of being under Russian rule. Imagine one room, but one side there’s a Nazi Uniform and videos from World War II and on the other side there were Soviet uniforms and videos from their occupation. The displays blended the two eras to form this continuous memory of oppression.

Some rooms had pictures and videos, some showcased testimonials from survivors like any other museum, but others displayed the original cars of the eras. We even toured the secret jail cells in the basement.

As you’re walking through the galleries you are reminded of the many Hungarians, like our professor, who still have first hand accounts of these events because they are so recent. I couldn’t handle being in that building for more than an hour, but so many Hungarian citizens live with those memories everyday. You can see the city healing, but the scars are only now starting to fade away.

The tour of the House of Terror had left me completely drained. The building was designed to present visitors with a nonstop feeling of dread, and I felt it. After being inside for an hour, I wanted to escape. As I watched old men on the screen recollect their lives under Nazi and Russian rule, it dawned on me that they had to survive both eras of oppression. The fact that this could happen, but remain relatively untold by our history books, is depressing. I had to travel halfway around the world to understand the fate that the people in Eastern Europe were dealt.

To be honest, I could have been presented with a documentary from the comfort of my home and it would not have had the lasting impact that each exhibit had. It’s one thing to read it or even watch it on television but it’s another to stand inside the actual prison cells and think, how can anyone ever do this to another human being? Physically being in that space was too much to process in the moment. It was eye opening.

The people I met in Budapest were so happy and inviting and I find myself appreciating their hospitality even more after my trip to the museum. I can’t imagine living with those memories of oppression, but choosing to rise above them and still be so warm and welcoming to strangers.

Top Photo by Sam Whitfield  and Creative Commons License

Other photos provided by guest blogger


On our Venture Consulting trip to Budapest, Hungary, our team was comprised of Harini Venkitarama (MBA ‘18), Vanesa Ewais (MBA/MArch ‘18), David Allston (JD/MBA ‘18) and Ryan Cao (BSBA ‘19). It was a great opportunity to extend the camaraderie and close-knit community we feel at Olin in St. Louis and delve into a new problem half-way across the world together. Each member on our team comes from a different background and we capitalized on each other’s diverse strengths as we were faced with this new task.

From left to right: Harini Venkitarama, Vanesa Ewais, Dorá Misnyovski, David Allston, Ryan Cao in the Oriens office in downtown Budapest after our presentation.

Student teams in the Venture Consulting Course, taught by Clifford Holekamp, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship, spend 10 days in Budapest, Hungary immersed in the startup community and working on specific projects with founders. They also learn about Eastern European history and culture. This blog post was submitted by the students.

Our team was challenged by the Oriens Investment Management group to work with a local start-up, GPS Tuner. The problem at hand gave us the opportunity to explore a new industry, the electric bicycle or “e-bike.” This start-up provides exciting applications for e-bike users that assists with route selection and efficient battery consumption. We found out, through a week of intense research, about the e-bike’s customers, its parallels to the electric car industry, and the intricacies of its supply chain.

Our team had the opportunity to visit the start-up’s office and have meetings with the CEO of GPS Tuner. The environment and open dialogue were very encouraging and truly supportive in helping us attain the information we needed. The lines of communication continue to flow freely as we work remotely on the project throughout the remainder of the summer via phone or video calls

Krisztian Orban

We spent the week working with the Oriens Investment team at their beautiful office in the center of Budapest. The week began with a brief history and acclimation to Hungarian history and culture, and learning how to structure a problem via the McKinsey method from the founder of Oriens, Krisztian Orban.

Our team mentor, Dorá Misnyovszki is a strong analyst for the company that helped us throughout the week in making sure we framed our presentation successfully and were asking the correct questions to be able to solve the problem at hand. The entire Oriens team hosted us in Budapest and showed us a wonderful time getting to know the city, and more of their perspective of working in the venture capital industry in Hungary

Overall, it was a successful trip and truly helped enhance our learning experience at Olin. We would recommend this opportunity wholeheartedly.

 




Living in the Netherlands for three months has been surprising and challenging in many ways. Adjusting to total independence, fitting in to a new culture, and making new mistakes have all been interesting, but the most surprising thing for me has been how comfortable I felt in this new home.

Comfort is something I did not expect from my abroad experience. Whether it was flying on budget airlines with not enough leg room even for my short legs, sleeping in 16-person hostel dorm rooms, or simply always feeling out of place, discomfort — a clash of a person with their immediate environment — felt like an inevitability. While I did experience my fair share of embarrassment and confusion, something unexpected happened when my abroad country became my home. It was only as I was preparing to leave that I realized just how at home I felt in my little city of Maastricht.

The main way I realized that I had acclimated to Dutch life during my semester abroad was through my relationship with my bike. In the Netherlands, there are famously more bikes than people and that fact was clear everywhere I went.

Bike paths went everywhere, and cars would always stop for bikes, something wildly unfamiliar to me even in my bike-friendly home of Seattle. Even stranger was seeing Dutch toddlers perched helmet-free on their parent’s handlebars, blond hair blowing carelessly in the wind, looking as comfortable as if they were held in their parents arms.

While I knew how to ride a bike, it had been years, and my first few trips were unstable to say the least.

Cobblestones are a Maastricht mainstay, and bouncing along on my old bike was uncomfortable.

Grace PortelanceI wasn’t sure if I would actually bike everywhere, or just walk. However, as time passed I became more attached and more comfortable on my bike. I began to enjoy the rush of zooming down cobbled paths. I began to use my bike for more trips, more challenging trips. When I felt restless, I would just hop on my bike and ride — sometimes into Belgium — with confidence that I could make it home. And finally, when I had to sell my bike I felt like I was losing a friend, a right hand. I never imagined myself being so comfortable on a bike! Biking was what made me feel like one of the native Dutch people in Maastricht, and without it I felt like a tourist.

I believe that living in Maastricht gave me a confidence and comfort on a bike that will last my whole life. I am going to be a bike commuter at my job this summer, something I never imagined I would do, and I hope that each time I ride I remember the city that fostered this love of biking in me.

Guest Blogger: Grace Portelance is a junior studying Economics and Finance with a minor in Computer Science.




Student teams in the Venture Advising Consulting Course taught by Clifford Holekamp, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship, spend 10 days in Budapest, Hungary immersed in the startup community and working on specific projects with founders. They also learn about Eastern European history and culture. Each team in this year’s course will submit a blog post about their experience and consulting project.

We are fortunate to have been selected to work on a consulting project in Budapest, Hungary for a company that creates software and apps for e-bike navigation: GPS Tuner, a leader in the field of software development for GPS navigation. GPS Tuner currently works with original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) to build GPS navigation devices for e-bikes. They aim to transition into launching their own application for the end consumer.

Our project is to identify a strategy to differentiate GPS Tuner’s e-bicycle navigation app by conducting a competitive analysis, crafting a clear value proposition for the app, and developing a strategy that will solidify the company’s strategic position going forward.

Throughout our week in Budapest, we’ve focused on developing a hypothesis tree to clearly define and tackle our project. This problem-solving strategy is focused on finding one core business issue and then delving deeper into mutually exclusive, but collectively exhaustive sub-issues, which might be causing the business problem.

Budapest3DOur work with the client, GPS Tuner, introduced us to the struggles of a fragmented market and how a setup like this can lead to beneficial results for an incumbent market leader. From an academic standpoint, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all markets operate as efficiently as possible, making it very difficult to sustain a competitive edge.

After our conversations with the CEO, we learned that the cycling industry operates in a unique situation. The industry leader currently benefits from keeping every aspect of e-bike design and manufacturing in-house, and from minimizing compatibility with competing hardware components. As a result, we’ve identified an inherent opportunity for GPS Tuner within the market.

Budapest3AAlthough our time in Budapest has been short, it has provided a tremendous opportunity for both academic and personal growth. We’ve received excellent feedback from Professor Orban, which has guided our analysis and allowed us to set up a framework for our project going forward.

We are also lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Ivan Pap during our time here at Oriens. He has been a fantastic guide and mentor, and he has made our trip very memorable. Although we are sad to leave the amazing city of Budapest, we are confident in our direction and look forward to diving deeper into the opportunities GPS Tuner faces as it enters its newest growth stage.

Team GPS Turner: MBA students Courtney Callegari, Douglas Mullenix, and Kirtika Singh.


Olin Business School Blog Olin Business School Blog