In July, five students from the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) Class of 2014 travelled to Finland and participated in the 2014 LUT Summer School program. Hussam Ayyad, Charles Olagunju, Shanae Vander Togt, Tyler Iorio, and Alessandro Segala each took classes related to business or technology to compliment and build upon their MBET education.
The Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) summer school program spans four weeks during July and August, and consists of a combination of business, technology, and industrial engineering and management courses. LUT is a scientific university bringing together the fields of science and business with an international community comprised of approximately 6,500 students and experts. The Conrad Centre supports MBET students each year to travel to LUT, located in Finland, where they meet new people, pick up valuable business skills related to their expertise developed at Conrad, and time and time again, recognize the value of the MBET degree they have just earned.
MBET alumni, Charles, Hussam and Alessandro, reflect on their experience at LUT Summer School:
LUT Summer School was a memorable experience, a part of my life that will always be cherished. Upon settling down in the country I found it to be one of the best places to visit after a busy year of MBET study.
My favourite part of the program was the Finnish sauna experience that we had every week by the lake Saimaa — a time to eat, drink, relax, swim in the lake, hang out and enjoy the 60 to 100 °C sauna.
I found the Systematic Approach to Inventive Thinking class the most useful and educative. It challenged the inertia of thinking, and questions the known strategies of getting things done. Systematic Approach to Inventive Thinking inspires you to challenge the norms by asking yourself questions such as, "Why are things done in a particular way?"
Almost all of the courses that I selected are complementary to the MBET program, but I found LUT’s Frontiers in International Business, and High-tech Marketing courses to be the most complementary classes to MBET. The concepts of these courses are similar to MBET’s BET 602: Marketing Strategies for New Technology-based Ventures, BET 607: Managing Technological Innovation, and BET 608: Entrepreneurial Application of Technology courses, but it was of great benefit to learn familiar courses again from a different international perspective of teaching and application.
Remarkably, four weeks went by quickly, and I wished for more time in the country. The program began with many uncertainties, but it ended with a tear of joy.
LUT Summer School was a memorable experience, a part of my life that will always be cherished.
Having been a world traveller for many years, I’d attest that LUT’s summer program was a truly unique travel opportunity. During the program, I had the chance to visit various European cities, mainly Helsinki (Finland), St. Petersburg (Russia), and Stockholm (Sweden). What made these trips quite unique were the groups of people I travelled with. Travelling to meet and learn about new cultures is quite interesting, but how rewarding would it be if you were to travel with a group of others who are equally, if not more, enthusiastic about the trips? Not only would you be curious to discover and explore more and more, but you’d certainly learn and share more than you would expect or plan.
There was a great variety of courses offered by LUT. I made my selections based on my personal interests. The courses I selected were: Frontiers of International Business, Doing Business in China, Doing business in Russia, Game Design and Systematic Approach to Inventive Thinking. The curriculums were crafted to incorporate a great deal of team work that would maximize the international learning experience by enabling students from different backgrounds and experiences to interact and learn from one another. As I had the pleasure to learn a lot from many others, I still recall that MBET’s participation was recognized as unique and outstanding, on many occasions, by LUT faculty and other students. This was especially the case during industry related exercises and participation, such as our visit to IBM’s Finnish headquarters in Helsinki, during which IBM staff made similar remarks on MBET participation.
The class that I found most useful and complementary to the MBET program was Systematic Approach to Inventive Thinking. This course introduces great design thinking concepts that instigate one’s untapped thinking boundaries to approach problems differently and systematically by applying out-of-the-box design methodologies and approaches. I felt that there was great potential for a fit of this course with our venture creation and innovation management courses, which resemble some of the topics covered in this class.
The curriculums were crafted to incorporate a great deal of team work that would maximize the international learning experience by enabling students from different backgrounds and experiences to interact and learn from one another.
The LUT Summer School was an amazing experience for me. I was able to connect with other students from all over the world, getting to know them and forming intense relationships even in that short time. Best of all, there happened to be a lot of fun too!
My favourite part of the program was the trip to Saint Petersburg. That was my first time in Russia, and I was incredibly and positively surprised by it. Saint Petersburg is young and dynamic, yet with an incredible heritage; it is really artistic and has many interesting sights. I would never have thought of going there had it not been for the LUT Summer School, and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
I found the combination of classes "Doing Business in China/Russia" to be the most useful complement with MBET. Indeed, both those countries are developing quickly and they offer many opportunities to entrepreneurs. At the same time, however, the Chinese and Russian markets have lots of peculiarities and are profoundly different from the North American or European ones. At LUT Summer School I had the opportunity to appreciate at least some aspects of those environments, understanding how they could become interesting opportunities for any business.
I was able to connect with other students from all over the world, getting to know them and forming intense relationships even in that short time.
About the contributors
Charles Olagunju is a Canadian resident, of Nigerian origin and descent. He has over four years of commendable experience working in the banking and telecommunications industries. He is the founder of Global Education Bridge (GEB) – a pioneer education consulting firm that teaches, empowers, and recruits students from developing nations to achieve their educational goals in Canada.
Hussam Ayyad is a Canadian serial entrepreneur that has co-founded and worked on startups all over the world. His newest venture, Ohzone, is a platform that offers instant, highly secure payment alternatives to traditional payment methods and networks for both banked and unbanked customers worldwide. He is also the Manager of Startup Services at Communitech.
Alessandro Segala is the co-founder of SixthMonkey, a new venture he created during the MBET program. SixthMonkey is a cloud solution to safely archive personal photographs. He has previously worked in and co-founded IT projects in Italy—ranging from social tools to marketing platforms.