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Student Testimonials for 2011 CAP – Sweden

Matthew Williams:

We had the unique opportunity to gain real-world international consulting experience with a clean tech start-up company in Sweden for our International Residency practicum course.  As someone who came to GWU with an interest in renewable energy and the goals of gaining more project experience and international exposure, the project was an ideal fit for me.

We were matched to our clients based primarily on interest. I chose to work with a company that offers biofuel storage solutions because biofuels are an energy source that I wanted to learn more about. During the initial stages of the project, our team worked from the US and conducted regular meetings with our client via SKYPE. After working so hard with our clients remotely from the US, it was exciting when we arrived in Sweden and finally got to meet them face-to-face. Our client was very helpful and accommodating during the entire process, which made the project much more rewarding and enjoyable.

While in Sweden we also visited other Swedish companies that operate in the green technology or renewable energy space, such as energy companies, and sustainable construction companies. This afforded us the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the Swedish market that we were able to apply directly to our projects. During one visit, we were given a tour of a power plant, which currently uses biomass to generate power and provide district heating for its customers. I found this visit to be especially interesting and have actually been able to apply many of the concepts I learned directly to my summer internship in the US.

I liked learning about the subtle cultural differences of doing business in Sweden and found the Swedish working style to be both pleasant and effective. I was also fascinated by how ingrained sustainability is into the Swedish ethos. You could see evidence of their commitment to protecting the environment practically everywhere you look.

Mustafa Önerci:

The IRP was among the top five reasons that triggered my decision to join the GW MBA program. After having realized the impact we created on our client, I would definitely rank it the first.

John Dillman:

The Swedish international residency project was easily the highlight of my first year at George Washington. Our consulting projects enabled us to apply what we learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. From the beginning, I was motivated by the sense that our client was relying on us to provide real value. In addition to our consulting work, we had the opportunity to visit a handful of energy and clean tech companies. The highlight for me was visiting a waste management facility and biogas refinery. This particular region of Sweden had a recycling rate close to 100%. Food waste was the feedstock for the refinery. The scale was such that the biogas end product powered some 500 buses in central Sweden and Stockholm. Everybody we encountered -from our clients to our hosts at company visits – was enthusiasticabout sharing their experiences in energy, answering our questions, and educating us about the unique Swedish approach to making business and sustainability work together.

Matthew DeBold:

The benefits of completing an international consulting practicum are twofold: Learning to manage a long-distance relationship with a client and gaining experience in adapting and adjusting to the various cultural, environmental, economic and legal differences in the international marketplace.

Andrew Seal:

My company and project involved bio-diesel infrastructure products and the related market entry into the US and we were able to learn first hand about the challenges and benefits to collaboration with our energy industry partners overseas.

This consulting practicum was a great compliment to the Global MBA interdisciplinary program – it brought together a diverse group students to provide tangible value to international clients, while developing the acumen and gaining the experience required for careers in the clean technology industry.

This kind of real world experience will serve to maximize GWSB’s standing as a leading knowledge center and talent pool in energy and sustainable development.

Business can advance clean energy solutions through innovation, investment, and collaboration across public and private sectors so the George Washington School of Business is the ideal place to be.

The GW School of Business provides a breadth of recruiting pool talent who are passionate and knowledgeable about energy and sustainability.

Nina Lahijanian:

At first the international residency projects simply occupied a large box on the MBA curriculum –a 4.5 credits requirement for graduation that includes a 7-week, in-country course coupled with 2 weeks of abroad travel. Then it became a reality and soon, the most valuable experience of my first year of the GWU MBA program.

Dr. Anna Helm, the organizer of the entire residency experience and our mentor, is a native of Sweden and it was through her connections, that we got the wonderful opportunity to work with four clean tech companies of various industries looking for expansion into the U.S. market

During the seven weeks in the U.S., Dr. Helm exposed the students to the Swedish culture, green technology, sustainability, regulatory frameworks, intellectual property, trademarks and copyrights,
international marketing and the realities of internationalization through different media: from Pippi Longstocking excerpts to a panel discussion including counsel from Dickstein Shapiro in Intellectual Property Practice and experts from Department of Energy.

While in the U.S., every Friday, my team and I met virtually with our client through Skype. Professor Helm’s in-class guidance provided us the tools to confidently and professionally communicate with our client, to know what questions to ask and how to effectively analyze the information provided by the client. She truly allowed us the autonomy required for this project to be a real consulting experience –each team was in charge of their own client and Dr. Anna Helm was simply the mentor who guided us to produce the most plausible and effective strategy report and presentation possible.

The visit itself was an eye-opening experience. While in Sweden, I observed that there is, irrelevant of company size or industry, a consistent theme of collaboration. This is one of the main reasons for the Swedish success in being ecologically friendly. It is because of this collaborative nature that forward-looking projects like Hammarby Sjostad are possible in Sweden.

As a career-changer into the consulting world, this real-life experience gave me the confidence and necessary experience to intern as a communications consultant this summer.

The day of final presentations was not a day of panic or anxiety –as they usually are when one is to present in front of their peers, professors and strangers. It was a day of pride: we had been working on our recommendations for about three months and we were proud to present findings that would actually affect the future of these great companies.

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