A Week in Mannheim

By Reita Hutagalung, Global MBA student 2013-2013, Indonesia

We had exchange students in terms 1 and 2 from our partner school, Mannheim Business School. Now finally, we also had the chance to do a very short term exchange to Mannheim in end of April! There were two class options for us to choose from: Strategic Leadership and International Marketing.  Following advice from our previous exchange friends, I chose Strategic Leadership, taught by Prof. Andrew Kakabadse co-lectured by Prof. Nada Kakabadse and Mr. Andy Logan.

The Strategic Leadership Course was opened by Prof. Andrew Kakabadse with interesting questions in leadership related to challenges due to clash of political interests and ambiguous moral calls. He meant the course to be an opportunity for people taking the course to experience a journey of personal development of  his or her leadership. After half an hour of introduction, we were set off to work on the case. The cases we discussed in the whole week were challenging. We talked about leadership failures  from several companies at times of expansion, merge and acquisitions and entering international markets. One of the failures that happened was due to the lack of engagement of people. The strategy was in place, the alignment was set, however there was no engagement due to lack of faith and weak leadership. This important point led to the  notion that leadership is how to make a strategy that could combine alignment and engagement in such a way that you get your people to have a sense ownership. Another interesting point that I took away is  the need for the ability to model context and work through agendas. This characteristic is even more important than hard skill capabilities. Someone with the ability to see what the real problem in a tangled situation and know how to work through it to get the desired target is the likely person to move forward to a senior position. Having known those points, the course was continued with MBTI session to see one’s strength and weaknesses and his/ her tendency to react in several situations. Having had an MBTI session previously, I thought this part would be quite boring. In fact, it was enriching as the MBTI result was connected with the leadership characteristics and areas to improve where the professor spent private time with each team to discuss the results in details. That session was very practical and therefore helpful.

On top of the interesting course, the city of Mannheim was very beautiful and tidy. It’s structured in numbered and lettered blocks in the city center therefore it was very easy to go around. As a student city, Mannheim also has many shops and entertainment that students may seek. I also enjoyed the advantage of having more friends from Mannheim MBA students. The students were very diverse as they came from 24 nationalities and therefore it was interesting to see the dynamics of the group. All in all, the week went so fast we felt there were many things left unexplored with our new friends. But it’s ok, now we’re waiting for them to visit us again – this time, it’s fun purposes only =)

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