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CAP Student Feature

Matthew Williams

MBA Energy Management 2012
GW School of Business

As part of the GW International Residency Practicum instructed by Professor Helm, we had the unique opportunity to gain real-world international consulting experience with a clean tech start-up company in Sweden. This project was an ideal fit for me since I came to GWU with an interest in renewable energy and the goal of gaining more international project experience.

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 remotely from the US, it was exciting when we arrived in Sweden where Professor Helm had arranged face-to-face meetings with the clients. Our client was very helpful and accommodating during the entire process, which made the project much more rewarding and enjoyable. While in Sweden Professor Helm had also arranged for visits of 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.


Nina Lahijanian

MBA, Strategic Management & Human Resource Development 2012
MS, Project Management & Decision Sciences 2012
GW School of Business

The International Residency practicum in Sweden was the most valuable experience of my first year of the GWU MBA program. Dr. Anna Helm, the organizer and instructor 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.

In preparation for our trip to Sweden, Dr. Helm taught her students about Swedish culture, green technology, sustainability, regulatory frameworks, intellectual property, trademark 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.

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. The trip to Sweden was an eye-opening experience. It gave me the confidence and necessary experience to intern as a communications consultant following the completion of the project. 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.


Scott Weiss

MBA, Renewable Energy Finance 2012
GW School of Business

During the Spring of 2012 I had the amazing opportunity to learn under Professor Helm where I applied the skills I learned during the George Washington University MBA program to craft a U.S. market entry strategy for a Swedish biogas producer, Cortus. Cortus is an innovative company that uses patent technology to convert raw materials into renewable energy biogas through a process known as pyrolysis. Throughout our two-month engagement, our team worked closely with Professor Helm and with senior leadership from Cortus, both of whom could not have been more supportive of our efforts. In the end, we were able to provide strong recommendations for how this Swedish start-up could enter the U.S. market, where they could leverage their Scandinavian heritage, and where they could earn a significant return on their investment. After presenting our recommendations to their CEO, we were told that Cortus plans to incorporate our recommendations both in the U.S. and as they look to expand to other parts of the world, which means our academic exercise has real world implications. As someone who first became interested in environmental sustainability while living in Scandinavia in 2005, this opportunity to work for a Swedish renewable energy company and provide recommendations that may actually influence the future of their company was incredibly rewarding. And the opportunity to travel with Professor Helm through Sweden, from Malmö to Västerås to Stockholm, and learn how sustainability is so integrated into the daily Swedish life was inspiring. In particular, our four days in Västerås was the highlight of the trip – Handelskammaren Mälardalen arranged meetings for us with high level leaders at ABB, a behind the scenes tour of the local utility, and concluded with a 5-star lunch made for us by a modern-day Viking. The two weeks spent with Professor Helm touring Sweden’s sustainability sector, working with fabulous leaders at an innovative renewable energy company, and absorbing the culture of Sweden was an unbelievable experience that I will not soon forget.


Greg Viola

MBA 2013
GW School of Business

The Consulting Abroad Program (CAP) in Sweden instructed by Professor Helm was a truly unique and rewarding experience. Although I have worked overseas with people from numerous countries, including a year in Haiti, this experience was a first for me. Because of its deep impact on me, I would now consider consulting to overseas firms or living and working overseas, particularly in Scandinavia.

Our client, Stamo Maskin, is an engineering solutions firm located in Västerås that builds customized mixers for the pharma, food, waste water, and bio-gas industries. The applications are absolutely fascinating, but vary considerably across these different industries.

Working directly with the account and sales department of the firm, we performed research on the potential of their entry into the biogas industry in the United States; a difficult industry to predict. I greatly appreciated the straightforward nature of our relationship with Stamo. They told us exactly what they desired and why! It made it very easy to find answers to their questions. At the same time, the project allowed us to think outside of the box in order to suggest strategies that were not immediately intuitive.

Stamo Maskin was an unparalleled host! They shared their national and business cultures freely and made our visit and work so enjoyable!


Rakesh Nair

MBA, Business Analytics 2013
GW School of Business

From the time I entered the GW School of Business, Sweden was my top rated destination for the MBA Consulting Abroad Program (CAP). I have always been passionate about the energy sector and as such, a visit to the Nordic region and especially Sweden would be a game changer in terms of gaining invaluable insights.

Climacheck, our Swedish client, had invented a performance analyzer for HVAC (heating, ventilation & air-conditioning) systems and desired strategic recommendations for bringing this innovation to the United States. It was technically challenging to paint a competitive landscape and market entry strategy for Climacheck given the sophistication of the product and the operating sector, however through strong team work and Professor Helm’s guidance, my team and I were able to determine the competitive advantages of the product that could be transferred and leveraged in the U.S. Furthermore, the in-country portion of the trip allowed us to understand the cultural determinants that drive Swedish clean-technology preeminence in the world. For instance, in Sweden, we visited companies such as Vafab Miljö in Västerås. Vafab trains students from primary schools on recycling wastes and reducing environmental impact. Almost 10,000 students are trained per year on the importance and methods of segregation of the different grades of wastes. This has enabled Sweden to stay ahead globally in sustainability and green initiatives. Additionally, I was struck by the “spirit of innovation” in Sweden. One of the key highlights of the trip with Professor Helm was when were in Malmö (in southern Sweden) and visited a community called “Västra Hamnen” which was an innovative, 100% sustainable living cluster. Similarly, we also had the opportunity to visit a municipal energy company in Västerås which was originally built for oil, then coal, followed by biofuels and lately bio-wastes for improved sustainability.

The most memorable company visit in Sweden would undoubtedly be to the engineering heavy weight and pride of Västerås, ABB. High voltage Direct Current was pioneered by ABB and is capable of transferring huge amounts of electricity with low losses (6%) compared to higher losses (30%) in alternating current distribution. Wind energy is huge for ABB as these are typically remotely located (away from point of consumption) and have intermittent supply cycles, which provides a huge opportunity for ABB. In Stockholm, we got to visit H&M headquarters which is the second largest global clothing retailer and leads over the third largest retailer, GAP of USA. With Professor Helm, we also visited the innovation incubator at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden where SPOTIFY was created. The KTH research platforms include energy, information & communication technologies and climate change. If the project idea is feasible and can be commercialized, KTH transfers the project to STING (Stockholm Innovation & Growth). The field trips in Sweden definitely widened my horizons. Sweden, with numerous market leaders in the sustainability and clean technology sectors, provided strong avenues for learning and definitely enhanced my MBA experience.

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