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2011 Engineering/MBA Student Blog

Greetings from Manchester, England!

19 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

Students enjoy the welcome dinner at the MBS Cafe

We are excited to have you join us as we begin six weeks of immersive studies in Europe. Fresh from the one-year MBA program at the University of Kentucky we will be taking part in the Manchester Business School’s European Summer Study Program (ESSP).

The ESSP will take us through weeks 1-5 involving 60-70 students from around the world. The sixth and final week will be spent in London and is exclusively for the ten University of Kentucky students in this year’s BS/MBA class. For an overview of our itinerary please click here or use the link at the top of the page.

Tonight (Sunday) we began with a welcome dinner at the Manchester Business School (MBS). The event was an informal opportunity to enjoy a spread of barbecue food while getting to know our fellow classmates.

Tomorrow (Monday) we begin our first day of lecture. The primary topic of discussion will be the history, development, and challenges of the European Union. This will form the bedrock of our experiences to come.


EU: History, Enlargement, and Institutions

20 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

UK BS/MBA students engage in classroom discussion

Today was a beautiful day in Manchester as we settled into our first lecture at the Manchester Business School. Our classroom, located on the tenth floor, offers sweeping views of the city. It is here where will we spend the first four and last five days of the program.

Dr. Mohamed Djeddour, Centre and Academic Director, greeted us this morning to finish off housekeeping tasks as the program gets underway. An overview of the upcoming weeks, distribution of school IDs, and the all important complimentary memory sticks were in order.

The lectures this week will be presented by John Brophy. Mr. Brophy keeps the class on their toes with a mix of verbal lecture, video, and classroom discussion. Today’s lecture centered on the history, enlargement, and institutions of the European Union. For many the content covered today offered new insights into the foundation on which the EU is built. The geopolitical diversity represented in the classroom offers unique perspectives of how the EU is viewed in non-European countries.

An understanding of the EU is a wonderful complement to our MBA. With the business world playing out on a global stage the EU will play an ever increasing role. The nuances hidden in the history of the EU stretching back to the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community will help us understand the interactions of European countries and their businesses.


EU: Economic and Monetary Union

21 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

UK student Brent White (right) looks on as John Brophy lectures

As we began class today we were welcomed with a twenty question “discuss with your neighbor” pop quiz to review yesterday’s lecture material. Nothing says good morning like a pop quiz. These informal reviews throughout lecture put us on the spot but are very effective in helping us absorb the wide breadth of material being presented.

Our lecture discussion of the European Union continued today covering the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The EMU component of the EU seeks to create a cohesive economy in Europe through policies promoting a free trade market and single currency. The discussion covered the Werner Report (1970), the snake in the tunnel (1972), European Monetary System (1979), European Currency Unit, and the Exchange Rate Mechanism. Each of these policies sought to stabilize the trade between member countries primarily through influencing currency exchange rates. Each of these built on the knowledge gained from the previous and have lead to the Euro today.

During today’s class we were able to draw on our finance training gained during the One-Year MBA Program to understand the role of central banks in strengthening or weakening a country’s currency. This same finance background helped us understand how George Soros earned 1 billion pounds in an afternoon during Britain’s 1992 Black Wednesday. No, that’s not a misprint. Yeah…our jaws dropped, too.


EU: the Euro

22 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

UK students Jeremy Elias (left) and Anthony Druen (right) work together on a group presentation

Our crash course in the European Union continued today. The lion’s share of the day’s lecture was devoted to the Euro. This discussion built upon that of yesterday which covered the history leading up to the single currency system. Of the 27 EU member countries 17 use the Euro as their currency. These 17 are collectively called the Eurozone or Euro Area.

Much like yesterday we were greeted with a 20 question “ask your neighbor” pop quiz. It appears this trend will continue so perhaps I should drop the “pop” descriptor. Following the review we delved into the Euro discussion devoting significant time to the crises in Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.

Following lunch the class began working in teams on their first presentation. Two quotes regarding the Euro were supplied which encouraged us to consider its current state and success. Tomorrow we’ll submit our PowerPoint slides and a lucky few groups will be chosen to present. Working in teams will be a great opportunity to network and expand our abilities to engage in cross-functional teams.


EU: Competition

23 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

UK student Eric Ellis (right) speaks with a student from Canada

Today was the final day of lecture in Manchester. After reviewing yesterday’s material we began a new discussion on competition in the EU. Primarily we focused on EU policies involving anti-trust, mergers, cartels, and state aid. Several examples were covered which either formed the catalyst for the development of these policies or were landmark cases in which they were implemented.

Our MBA studies covered these same topics but focused on the policies of the United States. As we learned today, many similarities exist between the EU and the US in regard to policies affecting competition. At the same time there are nuances which are important for us to understand when considering business in the EU. For instance, if a cartel member alerts the authorities of their illegal practices then they, the whistle blower, are shown significant leniency. Of course one could just avoid cartel activities in the first place.

On Sunday the group will fly to Prague for the next leg of our studies. Once there we will examine the transition of a former communist country into a market economy. We will have a series of lectures focused on this transition and the role of the Czech Republic in the EU. Additionally, we will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the people and culture of  Prague.


A Weekend in England

26 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

Liverpool Cathedral, largest cathedral in England

Welcome back from the weekend. I hope you enjoyed it as much as the group here in Manchester. With no lecture on Friday and Saturday the group took full advantage of the time.

Many spent the day Friday touring the home of the Manchester United football club and surrounding shopping district. On the walk back to the tram a group of us passed a Bon Jovi concert reaching its midpoint. A “street entrepreneur” offered to sell tickets to the group. Little did he know we had received MBA level training in negotiation. Suffice it to say the group got the better end of the deal.

On Saturday the group took a day trip by train to the nearby city of Liverpool. The city is steeped with a rich maritime and musical history. We toured Albert Dock including the Maritime Museum. From there the group toured the Liverpool Cathedral which is the largest cathedral in England (see photo). The group also paid homage to the Cavern Club better known as the birthplace of the Beatles. There the group enjoyed talented artists as they played Beatles hits one after another.

This evening (Sunday) we traveled to Prague to begin five days of study. While here we will visit the Skoda factory and Krusovice Brewery. Additionally we will hear lectures focused on the transition of the Czech Republic from communism to a market economy. It will be an excellent opportunity for the group to gain an understanding of this unique and diverse business environment.


Prague: Castles, bridges, and gelato

27 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

The group looks on as our tour guide explains the history of Prague

Today (Monday) was a beautiful day! For the first time since beginning this adventure we had a full day of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-seventies. This weather was a beautiful setting for our first full day in Prague.

Our day began at 9 AM with a tour by Karel, a local guide. He met us at our hotel and guided us through the city for the duration of the morning. Among other sites, the tour covered Prague Castle, the Old City Square, and the iconic Charles IV bridge. Our guide provided local insights into the history, culture, government, and economy of Prague. By the completion of our time with Karel we were well oriented with the city center. The afternoon was left for us to continue exploring the city.

Prague only made the switch to democracy and a market economy in the early nineties. In these last twenty-two years the country and city have, for the most part, fully embraced the change. One can sense the pent up entreprenurial ambition which has since been released. The signs of the European Union are slight but evident. Some public buildings display the EU flag but the country is not yet using the Euro as its currency.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning we will have a lecture and visit the auto manufacturer Skoda (owned by Volkswagen) in the afternoon. Be sure to check back then to hear the details.


Prague: Lecture & Skoda

28 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

UK BS/MBA student Eric Ellis admires the vintage automobiles at Skoda manufacturing facilities

Today was another full day in the Czech Republic. Our day involved much less walking than yesterday but was nevertheless just as interesting.

In the morning we met our Prague lecturer, Dr. Kalik. Today’s lecture covered a variety of topics. First, we discussed the makeup of central and eastern Europe from both a political and economical viewpoint. For the second half of the lecture we narrowed our focus to just the Czech Republic. With a crash course in Marxism and Communism we discussed the transition of the country to a market economy.

After a quick lunch we boarded a coach for the hour drive to the Skoda automobile manufacturing campus. Once there we toured the car assembly and engine assembly buildings. Our MBA studies of Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing allowed us to quickly identify these practices in work. A few examples included tact time, visual management, 5-S, integrated suppliers, and just-in-time production. These few are just the tip of the iceberg. It was a wonderful opportunity to see these practices implemented.

Tomorrow our day will be spent touring Krusovice Brewery. I hope to see you here tomorrow as I fill you in on the day’s activities.


Prague: Krusovice Brewery

29 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

UK BS/MBA student Jake Webb looks out onto the bottling equipment at Krusovice Brewery

We have reached the midpoint of our stay in Prague. By now we are feeling comfortable with the city. This translates to less energy trying to find our way and more left to enjoy our surroundings!

This morning we departed for our visit to Krusovice Brewery. The company, located a thirty minute drive outside of Prague, is situated in the rolling countryside. Surrounded by green tree-lined fields this Brewery dates back to 1517. It is steeped with both history and tradition. In 1581 it was the official royal brewery for the country’s Emperor. To this day they supply their product to the country’s President.

The first component of our visit was a walking tour of the facilities. Our energetic guide lead us through the process of brewing their products as we snaked from building to building. The second half of our visit consisted of lunch and a presentation on marketing. The discussion, given by the US/Canada salesperson encouraged us to consider the best manner in which to market a nearly 500 year old product. In the fierce Czech beer market, as in any highly compeititve market, you must be strategic in your approach. This was an opprunity for us to draw from our MBA marketing background in an on-the-spot situation.

Tomorrow morning Dr. Halik will return with another lecture. This discussion will expand on last time’s topic as we analyze the position and role of the Czech Republic in the EU. Each student will also be providing a verbal SWOT analysis of a selected company/country pair operating in central or eastern Europe. I hope to see you back then!


Prague: Selling the “Western” Lifestyle

30 Jun 2011

by Ben H.

UK BS/MBA students Eric Ellis (second from right) and Brent White (far right) read the "Calendarium of Totalitarianism" in Wenceslas Square

This morning’s lecture continued to build upon our discussions of doing business in central and eastern Europe. Specifically we investigated foreign direct investment (FDI) within this region.

The focus of today’s lecture was a case study of McDonald’s entrance into the Russion market. In the nineties the company saw a wide open market where they could gain first mover advantage and shape the population’s idea of fast food. They would then become the standard to which all future market entrants would be compared. More than just food, the company sold the notion of a “Western lifestyle”. This approach still holds true in many cases for Western FDIs looking to enter this region of Europe.

The afternoon was open for more exploration of the city center. Myself and four other UK BS/MBA students visited Wenceslas Square, Lennon’s Wall, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Basilica of St. George. It was an afternoon of taking in the city’s culture with a good mix of people watching.

Tomorrow (Friday) is our last full day in Prague. The schedule will be similar to that of today. In the morning we have a lecture discussing Czech business and negotiation ettiquette. Then the afternoon is free for checking off the last of our Prague to-see lists. I hope you make it back here Monday as we make our transition to Barcelona.


Barcelona: New City, New Language

3 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

UK BS/MBA student, Jeremy Elias, sits in front of a fountain in Parc de La Ciutadella

Hello from Barcelona!

You will be happy to know we arrived safe and sound at our next destination. The city of Barcelona is a stark contrast from that of the post-communist Czech Republic. Our time in Prague was an excellent experience. However, I would be lying if I didn’t say this was a nice change of pace.

Our day began with a tour of the city by coach. Our guide, George, lead us to the key spots of the city. This was a great opportunity to get our bearings and the inside scoop from a local. Among the stops we visited were the Columbus Monument, Sagrada Família, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and an overlook high above the city.

In the afternoon we were free to continue exploring the city. Some went straight to the beach while others took advantage of today’s special free admission to the Pablo Picaso Museum. It also didn’t hurt that today was a city wide sale. Consider it Black Friday but in Spain where everyone is acting civilized and no turkey is involved.

Tomorrow we meet with Judith Romera of the Barcelona City Council
and Local Development Agency. Also, as it happens tomorrow is the Fourth of July. Check back tomorrow for the details of Ms. Romera’s presentation and our July Fourth celebration.


Barcelona: Start-up Incubator

4 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

Judith Romera, Director of In-City Economic Promotion, presents an overview of the Barcelona economy

Our second day in Barcelona greeted us with the same beautiful Mediterranean weather we enjoyed yesterday. Today we had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the City Council and Local Development Agency.

The first presentation was given by Judith Romera the Director of In-City Economic Promotion for the City Council. She provided an overview of Barcelona focusing on the current economy and the forward view of the city. One key strategic initiative is the expansion of sea shipping infrastructure. The city’s geographic positioning makes it a prime candidate to increase business from shipping companies moving goods through the Suez Canal destined for western Europe.

The second presentation was given by Ariana Fernandez with the City Council’s Local Development Agency. She focused on the City’s initiative to encourage entrepreneurial activity and general employment. At the core of their strategy is a new business incubator which provides significant resources in helping startups get off on the right foot. Of those companies who participate in the incubator an impressive 83% are still going in their fourth year.

For those who took the “Entrepreneurial Marketing” elective during their MBA it was especially interesting. The City is making great effort to spur startups with special emphasis on the tech sector. If you find yourself looking to start a business in Europe, Barcelona may just be the place for you.

Tomorrow we visit the fashion designer Mango. I will see you then!


Barcelona: Mango Design Center

5 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

UK BS/MBA student Catherine Heil looks on as a Mango representative fields questions

It was another gorgeous day in Barcelona. In the morning we visited the Mango Design Center. Founded in 1984, the company designs and sells high-end fashion clothing. Over the past 27 years the company has seen steady growth as it strives to place a store in each major world city. To date they have more than 2,000 stores in 103 countries.

Our tour focused on product development from idea conception to final distribution. It was interesting to apply our new product development knowledge gained through our MBAs to this unique industry. More than just selling clothes, the company must balance trends, brand, and the cultural diversity of the countries where they sell. To help accomplish this the firm has invested in a strong IT department to gather and analyze pertinent data.

Tomorrow is our last day in Barcelona. In the afternoon we meet with Pablo Collazo for a lecture titled “Doing Business in Spain”. And just in case you were wondering how we celebrated Independence Day we did so with a cake, numeric birthday candles (235), and the only American flag we could find (that wasn’t at an American Consulate). Check back tomorrow for the details of our final day in Barcelona!


Barcelona: Doing Business in Spain

6 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

View of Barcelona with the Mediterranean Sea taken from Park Guell high above the city

It is our last and final day in Barcelona. In the morning and early afternoon we heard a lecture by Pablo Collazo discussing the prospects of doing business in Spain.

According to Collazo, looking at the numbers, Spain is in much better shape than the media portrays. He pointed to this notion but conceded that the country needs to strengthen their ‘soft skills’. With unemployment near 20% the country is certainly in difficult times. However, this situation in not noticeable in those we have interacted. Then again none of us speak Spanish or Catalan very well so the state of the economy hasn’t really come up in conversation with the locals.

The Spanish government is making some sweeping changes to long established employment law. In an effort to grant companies more flexibility with their human resources they are loosening the very strict hiring and firing laws. Although they won’t be identical to America’s at-will employment they will be a shift in that direction. During our MBA studies Dr. Brian Dineen discussed at length about the laws within the United States. This morning offered a glimpse at what these same laws look like in Europe.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Grenoble. After the eight hour coach ride we will step off the bus to a new city, country, and language. Check back tomorrow to hear about the pleasures of lengthy coach rides.


Grenoble: A Long Day’s Journey

7 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

The 2000 year old Arena of Nimes. I am pretty certain the concert stage is not an original Roman antiquity.

We have arrived safely in Grenoble, France.  We spent the lion’s share of the day aboard a coach. So, everyone has recovered from any sleep deficit they may have been harboring. For lunch we had the opportunity to briefly explore the city of Nimes.

Nimes has a population roughly that of Lexington and dates back to the Roman Empire. After serving Julius Caesar for fifteen years in the Nile campaigns, soldiers were given plots of land to cultivate on the plain of Nimes.  In the city center is the nearly 2000 year old Roman Arena of Nimes. A few had the opportunity for a brief, very brief, tour of the structure. Others took time to stroll along the canal of Les Quais de la Fontaine which was the first civic gardens in France.

Tomorrow is a full day of class work and lecture at the Grenoble Graduate School of Commerce (GGSB). Jean-Pierre Bernard will lecture on “Doing Business in Europe”. As you may be picking up by now, each lecture focuses on doing business in Europe. Some focus on specific regions whereas tomorrow will likely take a broader view.

Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing you back here on Monday!


Grenoble: Bringing It All Together

10 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

View of Grenoble at dusk from the Bastille high above the city

At this point in our studies abroad we have been traveling for twenty-five days. During this time we have participated in lectures across four different cities. Since leaving Manchester the professors have focused on business in particular regions of the EU. On Friday, the professor not only focused on business in France but also helped weave our various lectures together.

The primary take-away is that one can’t treat the EU as a single market. The regions, countries, and cities are simply too diverse. Instead you must adapt your business model and strategies to fit the idiosyncrasies of each location. For this reason it can be difficult to transition a business from the US to the EU. It also provides added insight into why the EU is fighting an uphill battle in its development.

Tomorrow we visit Soitec located a short drive outside of Grenoble. Soitec is a French semiconductor manufacturer founded in 1992. Their clients include many tech giants such as AMD, IBM, Sony, and Freescale Semiconductors.

Check back tomorrow to hear about our final day in Grenoble!


Grenoble: Synchrotron

11 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

An ESRF representative speaks to students during a tour of the synchrotron

Our final day in Grenoble has come and gone. If you came back today to read about our trip to Soitec you’re going to be disappointed. We did not make it to Soitec. Instead our itinerary changed and we visited the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). I am not sure what Soitec would have been like but ESRF would be awfully hard to outdo.

Grenoble is known as one of the world’s leading cities for bio- and nano-technologies. The nonprofit ESRF operates one of the largest and most advanced synchrotrons. As we learned today their synchrotron emits X-rays which are then used to image various materials with amazing detail. This was truly a unique opportunity to see a leading global research facility.

Representatives of ESRF delivered two presentations. The first provided a technical overview of the facility’s operations and capabilities. The second presentation focused on the interfacing of this research facility with industry. During our undergraduate and MBA studies we learned of the important role which academia plays in industry. Today’s visit is a great example of just such an impact.

In the morning (Tuesday) we board the coach for a ten hour journey to Paris. Many in the group are looking forward to visiting the country’s capital and its many cultural sights. Since tomorrow will be a travel day, and since travel days make for boring posts, I plan to mix things up. Tomorrow I will include some bonus stories from Grenoble that didn’t make the cut. If I’m feeling generous I might even throw in an extra picture or two. I’ll see you tomorrow!


From Grenoble to Paris

12 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today is a travel day. There’s only so much to mention about a travel day. I suppose I could critique the gas station cuisine or discuss tactics for sleeping on a coach. Instead I thought I would share a few of the things we managed to see around Grenoble when not in lecture or visiting a company.

Hiking Le Moucherotte

While in Grenoble eight students from the University of Kentucky, University of Florida, and University of British Columbia took a hike. Since we were in the Alps it seemed only natural to see the top of one. Following the recommendation of the city’s outdoor recreation tourist center the group headed up Le Moucherotte (elevation 6,236 ft). A little over half-way a few turned back and headed for town. Four students reached the top by late-afternoon. I am proud to say three were from UK and the fourth from UBC (apparently Gators don’t make good climbers). As you can see, the view was spectacular!

View of Grenoble from the peak of Le Moucherotte (elev. 6236 ft) (PHOTO: Eric Ellis, BS/MBA)

Le Tour de France

For those cycling enthusiasts following along you are well aware the Tour de France is underway. After renting a car, four students (two from UK) headed to watch a nearby stage of the race. It was a unique chance for these students to experience this popular race firsthand. Special thanks to UK BS/MBA student Eric Ellis for his photo of the race.

Three cyclists climb during a stage of the Tour de France (PHOTO: Eric Ellis, BS/MBA)

Le Bastille

On one of the final evenings in Grenoble several of the UK BS/MBA students rode a rail car to the Bastille. Construction of the Bastille first began in the Middle Ages with many additions over the years. From this vantage point we were able to take in the city, a sunset, lightening display, and eventually the city lights.

Sunset over Grenoble as viewed from the Bastille


I hope you enjoyed the change of pace for today’s post. There has been so much to talk about with lectures and company visits that there’s rarely enough room to share these stories. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we visit the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. I hope to see you back tomorrow!


Paris: OECD

13 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

Students interact with OECD representatives during a presentation

Today was our first full day in Paris. The sky was overcast and the temperature cooled to around 65 F. For our company visit today we visited the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD began as the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). This organization was a European consortium where member countries (not talking about EU members at the moment) could discuss and work through economic policy. In 1961 the United States and Canada joined as members and the organization changed its name to what it is today.

Much like the United Nations or World Trade Organization the OECD provides a forum at which member countries can discuss important international policy. Unlike the UN the organization can’t sanction its members. Instead the peer pressure of the members has historically been enough to foster adherence.

Tomorrow the country of France will celebrate Bastile Day. In the morning will be a military parade along the Champs-Elysées. Later in the evening will be fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. Check back tomorrow for pictures and details!


Paris: Bastille Day

14 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

Our view of the Eiffel Tower just prior to the fireworks display

Today was Bastille Day. Many compare this day to Independence Day in America and I would agree. The city has been abuzz since yesterday afternoon.

This morning many braved the crowds for Europe’s oldest military parade. Beginning at the Arc de Triomphe the French military parade along the Champs-Élysées. The various aspects of the military are represented from infantry to armor to air force. Leading the parade was President Sarkozy.

In the evening the group enjoyed a free concert by various artists. The concert was on the Champ de Mars with the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop. After dark we enjoyed a thrilling fireworks display with the Eiffel Tower as the centerpiece.

Due to the holiday the company visit scheduled for Friday has been cancelled. The group plans to make the most of this unexpected time with a day trip to Versailles. Perhaps we’ll learn the French pronunciation.

Over the weekend we travel back to Manchester for a week of case study. It will be a great chance to put what we’ve learned to work. Check back Monday for a wrap-up from the weekend!


Paris to London to Manchester

17 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

A gargoyle's view of Paris from atop Notre Dame Cathedral

Welcome back from the weekend! While you were busy mowing your lawn we traveled between three cities.

Saturday morning we departed Paris and traveled via coach to London. For the crossing of the English Channel our coach boarded a car train for the trip through the “Chunnel”. It was a unique experience for everyone. We arrived late afternoon in London. Sunday evening we departed London for Manchester via coach.

The entirety of this coming week will be spent in Manchester. Working in teams of six we will complete a thorough case study focusing on the European Union. The project will culminate with a 7000 word paper. We will also have an exam Thursday covering all lecture material since the onset of the program. Although this sounds daunting, our experience in the fast-paced one-year MBA program has prepared us well. We will certainly draw upon this past year as we wrap-up the Manchester Business School portion of this program.

As you can see our week will be busy. We have two weeks to go and I hope to see you here until the end. See you tomorrow!


Manchester: Company Analysis

18 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

(L-R) BS/MBA students Catherine Heil, Jeremy Elias, and Mallory Miller prepare for this week's company analysis

Manchester is just as we left it. To quote the SkyNews weatherman today was “cool and showery”. This is quite a transition from 80 F and sunny in Paris, Barcelona, and Grenoble. So, it’s perfect weather for our task at hand.

If you read yesterday’s post you already know the plans for this week. We will work in groups of six to complete an in-depth analysis of a company which entered the European market. Our group analysis will culminate with a 7000 word paper due on Friday. This is not to mention our exam on Thursday covering all the lecture material of the past four weeks.

Our work this week allows us to see the struggles and triumphs of doing business in Europe. Many professors in our MBA courses utilized case-studies of multinational companies. So, this manner of work is very familiar to each of us. The difference is the knowledge and experience gained since arriving in Europe. This is a wonderful opportunity to pair our MBA knowledge with our newly gained international experience.

Tomorrow will be another riveting day of paper writing. Just in case that isn’t enough of a reason for you to return I will be adding a new blog element…video. For your viewing pleasure tomorrow’s post will include a video excerpt of the Bastille Day fireworks. But I’m sure you would have been back, anyway.


Manchester: Public Transit

19 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

Click the image above for a video of the Bastille Day fireworks

Today (Tuesday) was another exciting day of paper writing and group meetings. If you didn’t read the first sentence with at least a hint of sarcasm I will wait while you give it another try. On a more serious note it’s obvious these types of activities are vital to the comprehension and application of our new understanding of doing business in Europe. Since these days make for boring blog posts Brent White suggested I offer the group’s general impression of pubic transportation in Europe.

As a whole our group of BS/MBA students have been impressed by the effectiveness of Europe’s public transit system. As you would expect in any major world city, the places we visited offered a mixture of bus, tram, and/or subway transportation. Once you learn how to use one city’s transit system it is very easy to pick-up that of the next city.

On a few occasions our discussion turned to pubic transit in Lexington. For those of us who took Dr. Dalhstrom’s “Green Marketing” MBA course we are aware of the potentially positive environmental and economic impact of good public transit. Lexington could take a cue from Grenoble, France. The metropolitan area of Grenoble is roughly equal to that of Lexington and boasts an excellent street-level tram system.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we continue work on our group case studies and studying for Thursday’s exam. Check back then for more retrospective discussion from our trip.


Manchester: An Immersive Experience

20 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

UK BS/MBA students enjoy the sunset over Grenoble, France (L-R: Carson Edwards, Ben Hodson, Mallory Miller, Jake Webb, Catherine Heil, Clayton Cross) PHOTO: Jeremy Elias

Another full day of paper writing and studying has come to an end here in Manchester. Tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) we take our final exam. On Friday our group case study paper is due. Despite having plenty to keep us busy we can’t help but notice the local headlines concerning the state of EU member countries.

The media is closely watching the outcome of an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the economic crisis in the EU. Steven Erlanger in a recent online articlefor the International Herald Tribune states awareness is growing that “Greece is effectively insolvent, contagion is spreading to Italy and Spain, and time is running out to shore up confidence in the euro”.

One of the advantages of studying the EU while traveling in Europe is the opportunity to experience our field of study first hand. I would liken it to studying Spanish in Spain or French culinary arts in France. By immersing ourselves in the EU for the past five weeks we have gained a perspective that can’t be taught stateside. Coupling our MBA studies with this international experience provides us with a solid foundation for the realm of multinational business.

Tomorrow things will truly begin to wrap-up here in Manchester. Check back than and we’ll share in a collective sigh of relief once the exam is over.


Manchester: Exam Day

21 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

BS/MBA students climb the stairs of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris, France

Our time in Manchester is nearing the end. This afternoon we sat for the final exam and many have completed their group case studies. All that remains on the agenda for this week is the end of course dinner Friday evening. At that point we will say goodbye to the non-Kentucky students as we transition back to London for the completion of our studies.

Next week promises to be more exciting than this week. The itinerary has a strong mixture of company visits and lectures. Much of the emphasis for these lectures will be competition and strategy in the EU. In the Gatton MBA program Dr. Ferrier did an excellent job teaching us the finer points of international business strategy. It will be useful to get a perspective from the other side of the pond.

That’s it for this week. I hope to see you back Monday for a recap of the weekend’s activities.


London: Weekend Sights

24 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

MBA and civil engineering student Catherine Heil stands in front of the Institution of Civil Engineers

We made our move to the final destination of our studies in Europe. After arriving early afternoon on Saturday we were given the balance of the weekend to enjoy the many sights of London. Knowing a full week of lectures and company visits awaits us we made the most of our weekend.

Saturday afternoon several from the group toured Westminster. There we had the opportunity to see Westminster Abbey, the Parliament Building, a statue of Abraham Lincoln, and my favorite, Big Ben. It was here near Parliament Square that we happened upon the Institution of Civil Engineers. The group’s civil engineer, Catherine Heil, was all to eager to pose for this post’s photo.

Sunday included more sightseeing. Some traveled to Stonehenge and Bath while others explored the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. A few of us came across a Turkish festival along the banks of the Thames. It was a unique opportunity to take in the food, culture, and music of a place we didn’t visit this trip.

Tomorrow we have two primary events. In the morning we tour the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation. In the afternoon Dr. Julian Jones will present a lecture titled “Single Market & Competition”. I look forward to seeing you back here tomorrow!


London: BBC and Lecture

25 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

BS/MBA students visit BBC Television Center. 
(L-R) Ben Hodson, Eric Ellis, Brent White, Carson Edwards, Mallory Miller, Anthony Druen (hidden), Jake Webb, Catherine Heil (hidden), Jeremy Elias, and Clayton Cross

We began our final week with an iconic British establishment, the BBC. The tour provided a behind-the-scenes view of one of the world’s most well known news organizations. Our visit took place at the BBC’s television headquarters aptly named the Television Center. We were interested to learn the BBC is ultimately accountable to the British public who through their annual license fees directly fund the organization.

After our morning tour and a quick lunch break we met at the hotel for a lecture by Dr. Julian Jones. The discussion centered on case studies highlighting EU policy for mergers and acquisitions. It was interesting for the group to expand on their MBA M&A knowledge with the content provided today. With the Kentucky-only group it provided a smaller setting which spurred good class discussion.

Tomorrow promises a lecture by Sam Gill titled “Does the investment community hold the key to tackling climate change?” It should make for a good conversation on the role of business in the hot-topic of climate change. Only three more days of posts remain. I hope to see you here through the end!


London: Impact of Investors on Climate Change

26 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

A view of the Thames River from Tower Bridge as it snakes through London

Our final Tuesday has come and gone. In the morning we met for a guest lecture by Sam Gills of the Environmental Investment Organization (EIO). Gills serves as the Operational Director for this not-for-profit.

The EIO has developed an investment index (not unlike the S&P 500) which ranks companies based on environmental practices. Their beta rankings show that someone who invests in their index of companies sees a comparable return to other leading indexes. The hope is to encourage investment in companies with green practices. Much like yesterday, the small group setting spurred strong discussion around the issue of climate change and the potential impact of the investment community.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we have an early start for a tour of Wembley Stadium. In the afternoon we tour a London branch of the Imperial War Museum. It promises to be another full and exciting day.


London: Wembley Stadium & The Imperial War Museum

27 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

BS/MBA students stand in front of the pitch at Wembley Stadium(L-R) Eric Ellis, Jeremy Elias, Brent White, Catherine Heil, Jake Webb, Mallory Miller, Clayton Cross, Ben Hodson, Anthony Druen, and Carson Edwards

Today was a change of pace for the group. Instead of the lion’s share of our time being spent in lecture we spent the day touring two unique London sights.

This morning we visited Wembley Stadium. It was completed in 2007 replacing the original Wembley Stadium constructed in 1923. With it’s 90,000 seats it ranks as the second largest stadium in Europe. It serves as England’s national stadium hosting a variety of football, of both American and the soccer variety, and music concerts.

In the afternoon we visited the Imperial War Museum. The Museum was first founded after World War I with the hopes of chronicling the impact of war on society. The exhibitions range from restored airplanes and tanks to the history of England’s secret services. One museum component which particularly captured the groups attention was the Holocaust Exhibition.

Tomorrow we visit the Rolls-Royce jet-engine facility in Derby. It will be a long trip to Derby and back but well worth the opportunity to experience one of the world’s leading jet-engine manufacturers. Tomorrow will also be the last post for the trip. I hope to see you here!


London: Rolls-Royce at Derby

28 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

Security restrictions prevented pictures at Rolls-Royce Derby today. Instead here's another photo from the BBC tour. BS/MBA students Mallory Miller (left) and Brent White (center) play a game show in the interactive studio.

Today was our final company visit. To finish things off we toured the Rolls-Royce jet-engine facility in Derby. Yes you read that correctly. Rolls-Royce does more than make gold-plated automobiles. They are one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of turbine engines.

At the Derby facility we specifically toured the civil jet-engine final assembly line. They utilize flow production, a term we became familiar with during our Supply Chain MBA Module. Instead of a technician repeating the same task on every engine they follow a single engine start to finish. That means a single team is responsible for knowing how to assemble all parts of the engine. The knowledge wealth of these technicians is astounding.

If you recall from yesterday, today’s post was going to be the last. With our final dinner occurring Friday evening I thought that would be a more suitable conclusion to our time in Europe. Check back tomorrow for the ‘real’ final post of this amazing experience.


London: Farewell Dinner

29 Jul 2011

by Ben H.

Tonight concluded six exciting weeks studying in Europe. Our group of ten BS/MBA students have experienced numerous cultures, met with professors from a variety of universities, visited seven major world cities, and built a foundational knowledge of doing business in Europe. As we make our way home to the United States we do so with a more global business and engineering perspective.

We would like to thank Dr. Maloney and Kim Sayre for their efforts in directing, organizing, and making the BS/MBA program a success. A special thanks goes to the generous people who saw a need for engineers trained in business and who saw fit to use their resources to make this program a reality. We also want to thank our families, friends, and significant others for being willing to part with us so that we could further our education and broaden our horizons.

Finally, I would like to thank you, the readers, for consistently visiting our blog and for those who left comments along the way. My personal hope is that you enjoyed following our journey this summer. Have a wonderful year and I invite you back next summer for another great blog!