Saturday, July 19, 2008

Goodbye Budapest!

Buda just before sunrise on Saturday morning, taken by Weekend MBA student Rick Cutright.

Farewell dinner

Friday evening the group had its farewell dinner at Callas Cafe, a restaurant across the street from St. Stephens Cathedral. What a great evening! The food was so good that Scott had the chef come out to our tables, where he received a rousing round of applause (and a big hug!). The students (first) and then Paul and Melissa thanked Alice for her superb efforts in organizing our week of activities and ensuring that everything went as planned. There were also thanks to Lynda Holt and Melissa and Professor Yasha for making the trip a worthwhile and rewarding experience.

As dinner wound down most everyone headed out for one final night in Budapest. And I'll note for the record that everyone was on time for the bus to the airport on Saturday morning.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Last Day in Budapest

Today marks our last full day of activity in Budapest. It is only fitting that our last company visit was with Albany Molecular Research, Inc. (AMRI). AMRI, headquartered in Albany, NY and founded in 1991, AMRI is the only fully integrated, global contract drug discovery and chemical services provider. AMRI Hungary serves as the Central Eastern European arm for the company's European operations, with their area of expertise in discovery services.
Following a presentation by Business Development Manager Cesare Spadoni, we enjoyed a tour of the laboratory, and also attended presentations on AMRI's IT infrastructure and HR management.


Thursday most of the group traveled to Vienna (Wien in Austria). Despite a long bus ride and rainy weather, the trip was great. Our travel from Budapest took us through the agricultural region of Hungary. We drove through mile-after-mile (kilometer-after-kilometer) of fertile fields planted with corn (for ethanol), sunflowers (for sunflower oil), and grains (what appeared to be wheat). As far as the eye could see in any direction there were alternating fields of green, yellow, and brown. It was easy to understand why Hungary's major industry until just a few years ago was agriculture.

In Vienna, the old city lies within the modern ring road, so seeing many historical sites is an easy walk. Two of the most impressive sites are St. Stevens Cathedral and the Imperial Palace. St. Stevens sits on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first dating to 1147. The original church was largely destroyed by fire in 1258. The church was reconstructed and several additions and expansions occurred over the next three centuries. In 1469 with the creation of the Diocese of Vienna, St. Stevens became its mother church.

The Imperial Palace was the winter home of the ruling Habsburg family. The Habsburg's controlled large areas of central Europe beginning in the 10th century. Their control over many areas dimished in the 1800s, but they still maintained the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. But there was a desire by many citizens to have their own countries and this created tensions with the Habsburgs. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, in Sarajevo in 1914 caused the Habsburgs to declare war on Serbia, an event that led to World War I in Europe.

The Imperial Palace is HUGE, similar in size to the Habsburg palace in Budapest. Each contains approximately 200 rooms and occupies what are the equivalent of several city blocks. But it is not the sheer size that is most impressive -- it is their luxuriousness. The State Hall, which is now part of the State Library, is a stunningly beautiful room. Calling it a room is misleading; it is the length of a football field and its ceiling is five stories high. The murals, stautues, and collection of old books are beyond description.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pictures from Vienna

There were numerous wind farms on the way to Austria...

State Hall in the Habsburg Imperial Palace: A quintessential portrait of an 18th c. baroque library.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Full Day of Operations Management

Today marked a full day of travel to our fifth and sixth (out of seven) company site visits; we began our day by meeting at 7:50 AM in the hotel lobby to greet the bus and make the drive out to Magyar Suzuki. There is a lot of history to learn about the establishment of Suzuki in Hungary; with four logistic corridors crossing the country, and a location in the heart of Europe, it allows access to more than 490 million consumers. It was no surprise when Deputy Managing Director Laszlo Urban pronounced today that Suzuki Hungary is #1 in sales of new passenger cars in Hungary for twelve consectuvie years. In addition, one new car is produced on the production line every 57 seconds!

Following a quick lunch at Rozsakert Etterem (complete with American music in the background, compliments of the chef!), we were off to Tetra Pak, Danube. Tetra Pak is a Swedish multinational food processing and packing company. Following World War II, they boasted 100% market share, with Germany claiming the largest share. Tetra Pak's innovation is in the area of aseptic processing liquid food packaging which, when combined with Ultra-high temperature processing, allows liquid food to be packaged and stored under room temperature conditions for up to a year. Our host, Dr. Helga Nemeth, completed her MBA with a specialization in Human Resources and joined a tour of the facilities to provide additional answers to all of our questions.

It has been quite a busy schedule the past three days...we are all looking forward to a day of leisure in Vienna, Austria tomorrow.

Cultural Dinner

The students are full after a big dinner at Vadaspark; Jamie was pulled up on stage to demonstrate his knowledge of Hungarian folk gipsy dancing!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Z Day!

Today we visited two more companies, Zepter International and Zwack Unicum.
At Zepter, General Manager Slobodan Matovic and Marketing Director Andrea Boldizsar delivered a presentation which demonstrated how their global enterprise has grown to 170,000 employees in Hungary since 1991. Below, Mr. Matovic demonstrates Zepter product functionality to students in the showroom.

In between our visits we had lunch at Oreg Tanya Csarda restaurant; it is amazing how much food we continue to receive when we sit down at every meal! Many of the meals contain more than one type of meat together, such as chicken and pork, or steak and turkey.

We then traveled to learn more about the Palinka distillery at Zwack Unicum, the market leader in Hungary in spirits and liqueurs. Unicum is regarded as the national drink of Hungary; it contains more than 43 herbs and is often drank as an aperitif or digestif. After one sip, one can only proclaim "Das ist ein Unikum!" (This is a speciality!)

Now we are all getting ready to go to a cultural dinner with a folklore show and gipsy dancing. And of course we will experience some more palinka and goulash!

Monday, July 14, 2008

IBM Site Visit

Monday in Budapest

We had two excellent visits on our first "academic" day. We began the morning with a presentation by Ms. Kamilla Szandrocha, Head of the Department of Investment Promotion at the Hungarian Investment and Trade Development Agency. We received an overview of the economic development of Hungary over the past half-century, with an emphasis on the economic and business strategies employed by the government to spur economic growth since 1989. Hungary's economic successes are quite impressive, though they are currently facing several challenges. Ms. Szandrocha and her colleague, Mr. Janos Rajki, were exceptional presenters and they handled the many questions from our students very well.

Our second visit was to IBM. Mr. Balazs Horvath, Communications and Customer Relationship Manager, began with a brief history of Hungary that reinforced the presentation we received on Sunday during our city tour. He discussed the history of IBM in Hungary and he noted that IBM remained a private company even during the Communist period. IBM in Hungary, as for the entire company, is transitioning from a manufacturing to a service company. The major product made in Hungary is the DS8000. After the presentation, the group was split into two subgroups for an informative tour of the manufacturing factory and the testing and verification facility.

We returned to Budapest by bus and had a quick lunch at the hotel. The students took a short break and then they were off to class with Professor Crnkovic.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our First Night

We arrived in Budapest at noon on Saturday-the flight was fine except for a slight one hour delay. Although we were all quite tired from the travel (bus to JFK and then flight to Budapest), it was best to stay awake, adapt to the local time, and avoid jet lag. Our professor in residence, Yasha Crnkovic, was happy to show us the sights he became familiar with as a past professor in Hungary. Then we were all excited for our first Hungarian meal, the welcome dinner at Callas Cafe. Alice, our program manager in country, reviewed our very ambitious itinerary for the week, and our new Dean, Dr. Donald Siegel, welcomed the group of 24 Evening and Weekend MBA students (see Dean Siegel's comment below). Here is a picture of Yasha, Dean Siegel, Dean Emeritus Paul Leonard, me, and Alice.
Today, Sunday, we took a guided tour of Budapest to see if the city really lives up to its nickname, the "Paris of Central Europe." We learned a lot about the history of the city and its architecture, including the Parliament building, and even bullet holes on the side of an apartment building from the Hungarian Revolution (post Cold War) in 1956! We spent the afternoon in the beautiful and quaint artist village of Szentendre (located on the Buda side). Here Yasha treated Paul and I to some traditional Hungarian food-Goulash and Beef with Red Wine. We enjoyed a boat ride on the Danube River (which separates Buda and Pest) back to
Pest, and had a leisurely stroll back to the hotel, visiting a local festival on the drawbridge.
Tomorrow (Monday) marks the beginning of our company site visits-we will start with a presentation by the Hungarian Investment and Trade Development Agency to learn more about the local economy, and then travel to IBM to meet with the Manager of Communications and Customer Relations.

Friday, July 11, 2008

On the Road again

Off they go to Hungary!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Welcome to the UAlbany Business blog!


The UAlbany business blog was created to keep you informed of our current activities and events in the School of Business.

Enjoy! And stay tuned for more...we will be blogging live from Budapest, Hungary beginning July 13.