It has been a tradition for Arcada’s MBA students to organize a study trip visiting companies in the Nordic countries suiting the theme chosen by the students themselves. This year choosing a theme was a bit trickier as it had to suit both the Nordic market track students and Fintech track, which had started in autumn 2016. In the end the hot topic Internet of Things (IoT) and its globally recognized and rapidly growing hub, Stockholm served as the destination for our intensive two day stay. The Swedish capital just screams IoT when already on the express train from Arlanda airport to the centre displayed several advertisements of IoT solutions for financial to waste management. It was our 20-minute crash course on IoT at 7AM.
All in all the four companies and one EU project we visited were similar in a sense that they aimed to make people’s lives more comfortable through technology, but had their own ways and reasons for doing so. During each visit we got insights on different sectors of the business; finance, distribution, sales, marketing, production and logistics. The common factors to be found were struggles with manufacturing in China. The country is plentiful in resources, but the business culture differs so much which makes negotiations and collaboration often challenging. (This doesn’t apply only to startups, but to all sorts of companies with the large ones experiencing difficulties in entering the Chinese market that some even change the company values and goals.) Another common factor was found in the markets they were targeting. The startups visited rely heavily on e-commerce, so the biggest market to be in that sector is the USA where consumers have made online shopping and product reviewing a lifestyle.
What really amazed us was the openness shown when telling about their operations. From a Finnish perspective it felt that many facts discussed would never have come to light to company outsiders here in Finland. You can just argue whether it is a cultural difference, each company’s own culture or the audience meaning us as a group of students wanting to learn more about the field. It was also fascinating to hear about the lessons they have learned during the company journey and no matter how careful or planned things are anything can happen. Especially when operating across continents with different regulations, hiring consultants can save you a fortune.
A lot of learning and a lot of inspiration, days after the trip has ended we are still buzzing about it. The study trip will for sure be one of the highlights of our master studies at Arcada, but not only because of the professional side of it. It was such a pleasure to get to know each and all from the group personally better. During lectures you might start to label class mates very superficially like in the amazing 80’s high school movie The Breakfast Club; a brain, an athlete, a princess, a basket case and a criminal. Though instead of these, it would be more like the techcrazed, the micromanager, the machine, the I need a coffee break and the what is happening. Then we realize that we are all just the same beneath; dreaming of beautiful places to visit, feeling uncertain yet hopeful about the future, not caring about money or status just that we are doing something that makes us happy… And that we will never forget our supervisor’s pictures from his 50th birthday when he was dressed as Michael Jackson.
/Jaleh Ashtiani, MBA student