Thursday, August 11, 2011

What an amazing experience! I can barely begin to absorb all that we saw and learned. I want to thank Don, Rita and Shannon for creating such an inspirational and educational opportunity. I arrived home so inspired and motivated to move ahead personally and professionally. It’s difficult to decide which of the many events was the most fulfilling … the engineering precision of the BMW plant, the creativity and innovation of Nokia Siemens, or the insight and knowledge of so many of the speakers. I personally took so much from the vast experience these professionals so willingly shared with us.

All this was only further bolstered by the many cultural experiences. Munich was such a welcoming city. The visit to Dachau was so poignant; it’s difficult to put into words how deeply moving it was to be able to visit such a salient piece of history. It’s something I will never forget. By contrast the light hearted and quaint Salzburg - under the skilled guidance of Michael - provided such a wonderful insight into that city’s historic past.

Thanks again to Don, Rita, Uday and Shannon for creating such a wonderful event; to my team Tammy, John R. and Flaiyh for their input and support; and to my cohorts for making this an adventure of a life time … or to quote Michael - Goodie, Goodie, Goodie!

P.S. I found a job posting for Nokia Siemens in the HR department … think Don would let me telecommute?!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Volvo Trucks

The presentation at Volvo Trucks was quite interesting. They are the first to put methane/diesels (blue truck) on the market and are working with new technologies for cleaner air and emissions. Their market share in Germany was a great concern for them even though they were doing quite well with sales.

Their United States sales were over 10 thousand units for the past year and they have been able to penetrate the South American market as well with great success. Part of their global success is to build assembly plants for their vehicles in countries outside of Germany and Sweeden. Volvo seems to be committed to alternative fuels for trucking. Volvo recently delivered its first 10 natural gas-powered VNM daycabs (red truck) to Talon Logistics, Inc., the transportation division of Giant Eagle, Inc., a multi-format food and fuel retailer with stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland. Talon also received Volvo’s first delivery of EPA 2010-certified trucks in November 2009.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last day a roller coaster

Last program day a roller coaster

Started the day with our session at Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN).  Although BMW was definitely a really sharp presentation (maybe 8 on scale of 1-10), SAP TURNED OUT TO BE A 9! Talk about formality, preparedness and interaction, wow! Printed agenda with all participants' names and titles, acrylic table name stands and ample refreshments. The main presenter, Mr. Volker Ziegler, Head of Business Portfolio, Strategy and Business Development, did an awesome job of presenting the NSN story. Mr. Ziegler's style was extremely interactive, making his way around the group, both answering our questions and asking his own of us, all by addressing each person by first name. It felt like we were in a staff meeting  for a company we all worked for. Included were a brief history of NSN, market overview, competitive landscape and basic business direction.

Heiko Straulino, Head of Technology and network Visioning, shared a large portion of the current situation and future vision of NSN from a technological and market perspective.

The Solution Experience Center was just that... an experience! After a 3-minute virtual tour of Bavaria in  a room designed as the inside of a chateau (complete with rock wall and tree-stump seats), we immediately jumped into a 3D demonstration of cell tower operational technology which load-balance and fill in blind spots when a tower goes down. Multiple other demos were viewed, along with a ~6'x3' tabletop model with interchangeable elements (eg. a stadium, hill or building) and, coupled with an overhead projector replicating traffic and phone signals on the model, becomes a focal point for high level business discussions with carrier C-level visitors. I must say this is a high impact impression NSN leaves with me (probably the objective, huh!).

Then, back to reality of a low(er) tech truck manufacturer --- Volvo Group. Completely divorced from the automotive company bearing the same name (maybe to their detriment?) we plowed though a much more sobering picture of a traditional manufacturer.

The most interesting aspect for me was the diametrically opposite personality of the companies. NSN was vibrant, energized, with lots of activity and apparently happy-looking employees.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Last visit

I am going to miss Munich!!! Great city, awesome experience, amazing group. Thank you Shirley, Judith and Gino for the team work! Volvo trucks was very good! Ready to go for our bavarian show!!!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


For an industrial engineer like me, visiting BMW factory is such a pleasure... a benchmarking to my own company. From the very first moment you enter into the facility, everything is detailed oriented. Not doubt why their quality is so high or why it is one of the better considered brands in the world. A sample for the rest of the manufacturing companies. The automatitation carried out the motors and assembly line is shocking. Everything calculated by the second. Great day and sad to be over!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BMW - A great example of german engineering and business precision

What a fantastic presentation at BWM (no, surprise, eh?). Bill McAndrews is certainly one of the most competent presenters I've seen, not just here, but in general. His knowledge base is amazing. I suppose if you have to represent BMW to the world, even on CNBC, you really need to be prepared --- and polished.

I did chuckle over one of Bill's phrases... the very same one I heard him say on a CNBC special on the 2012 Automotive Show. After the spokesperson from Audi proclaimed that Audi's objective was to unseat BWM as the #1 luxury car by 2015, McAndrews quickly said, "Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery!"

The mission statement presented was very interesting: “To continue as the leading provider of premium products and premium services for individual mobility.” Why? In addition to the fact that they are the only luxury car manufacturer who also produces motorcycles, who knows what the “luxury mobility market” will look like 20 years from now. Regardless, it certainly seems BMW is already deeply involved in shaping whatever it is we ride in or on, no matter how many wheels!

Dr. Girst presented an amazing amount of work BMW does form the cultural perspective. It was very interesting to hear that their work in this area exudes the very foundational philosophy of the company, and not the more typical “sponsorship” activities most companies engage in in order to be seen by the maximum number of eyeballs, regardless of the fit/tie.

Some other surprising items we heard:
-    BMW is headed up by an engineer, not a sales or marketing type;
-    The controlling board has huge representation from the unions;
-    BMW did not cut their cultural programs even during the auto industry’s recent crisis;
-    BMW holds both Toyota and Hyundai in high regard as competitors and excellent companies;
-    A 3-cylinder engine doesn’t sound so silly anymore;
-    Don't give yourself a full-chest BMW tattoo first, then attempt to get BMW sponsorship!

Munich is full of surprises

See Evan's post about this wild... and completely unbelieveable... activity in the heart of Munich.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday, Day 4!!

Just like yesterday, today was very successful. We had presentations from Mr. Dirk Liedtke of Mummert & company; Mr. Robert Neal, Global Commodity Manager of Faurecia during the morning period. Very informative and educational pieces on joint ventures, alliances and perspectives of a foreign investor in Germany!

After a sumptuous lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in Munich, with loaded stomachs we headed to BMW. Of course Michael thrilled us on the way with his "shower" of indepth historical knowledge of the city of Munich, pointing out the many historical symbols which line up every nook and corner of the beautiful capital of Balvaria...."oh goodie goodie goodie..." with special interruptions of classical music!...nice. I want a BMW!!!

Mr. Bill Mc Andrews and Dr. Thomas Andrews gave a presentation of BMW- intergrating business, community interest and culture. It was entertaining, informative, educational and you could feel the pr....ide oozing out of their BMW's success story; what it has accomplished in the automobile industry and what it stands for. Class! It is true!!! I want a BIMA... latest coupe..:-)..will use my key chain sourvenir for the key:-) Anyways, it was fun!

Some of us headed back to explore Munich and ended up in a Greek restaurant! Good job discovering places.. gals... Satur and Fidel joined later:-) Very tasty lamb dish:-) It was fun! Inshort, I am proud to be part of this program!

Meeting with Mummert and Company

Our fourth day in Munich began with a meeting with Dirk Liedtke from Mummert and Company. Mummert is a small to mid-cap corporate finance company who also provides management consulting services within the German marketplace.

Dirk was kind enough to explain to us the special considerations that that need to be taken when dealing with the "Mittelstand": a small to mid-sized privately owned business in Germany. Since the Mittelstand also tend to be family run and reasonably large (50 to 200 million Euro, or 50 to 500 people) they require special handling when it comes to financing, restructuring, and merger and acquisition activities.

Dirk also provided many insights on what makes for a good (and a bad) joint venture partner, and we look forward to contrasting his opinions against those of a larger firm like faurecia and BMW; whom we will meet with later in the day.

We are very thankful that Dirk could spend so much time with us!

Surfing in Downtown Munich?

An ice cold river with its origins in the German Alps erupts out from underneath a bridge in a downtown park creating an endless wave for surfers and kayakers alike. This city has suprises around every corner!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Visit to SAP

Tony woke me up at 6 AM since we had to leave early for a company visit. Thanks Tony, you are very nice room partner and friend.
We visited the SAP office at 8:30 AM . We had to deliver 10 mts presentaion on SAP. Tony deleivered the first presentation for our group and raised the bars for others.We had warm welcome by Philips from SAP. Then we had long session about SAP business strategy . It was very interesting and informative. Everybody was asking good questions and Philips had patience to answer all of them. Got some interesting information that if you work for SAP Germany for more than 3 years , you get BMW. Sounds intersting.!!! ( if you want BMW, try SAP)
We had a good lunch at SAP . Philips was standing outside and waving us hands till our bus left the premises of SAP.
Overall very very good experience !!!
After SAP visit we came back to hotel. The tour guide Michael is very interesting person. He entertained us on way and played good music and told good stories. Goodie ! Goodie !!
Then we had very good session from George, who stayed in Silicon valley for 8 years and then came back to Germany. He talked about the business culture in Germany and some dos and donts about the German culture. Very useful information on international business.
We had a short quiz of 30 mts (tense peiod post lunch:)
Overall day was good. Evening had beer and dinner with Don , Rita and Tammy.

Dinner in Munchen

Last night a group of us walked down to Marienplatz to have a traditional German dinner. We found a great place full of locals and travelers alike. We were a group of seven and many of the tables were taken except for the reserved tables. And yes, we did not have a reservation. While scouting for the house manager my cohorts found a table near the front door that was occupied by a nice man named Karl who was visiting from another town about 500km away.

We spoke enough German and he spoke just enough English and the next thing we were all sitting together sharing dinner and talking about our work and lives. Karl was awesome, he helped us understand the offerings on the menu and wrote down our orders for the waitress.

Karl was a funny and outgoing man in his mid to late forties who sported a finely tuned mustache. He told us about his work as an administrator in local government and talked about his daughter who was a social worker here in Germany. He also appreciated cars as much as I did and drives a 10 year old Mustang.

After dinner we all thanked Karl for his help and toasted him one final time before we got the bill. Not bad I thought 122 Euros for all of us plus beers. The waitress was all business and no smiles until we gave her a nice tip. Language is not a barrier it seems, and Munich is bustling with people and commerce, even at 10:30PM on a Sunday night.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Random Photos from Day 2 in Munich

Germany Day 1

We made it to Germany with no issues.
Even taking off an hour and a half late Lufthansa did an excellent job of getting us to Germany only 10 minutes later.
Thank you to Shannon Wilde for the opportunity to check in earlier to we could all feel refreshed before our tour around Munich! The hotel is so nice and modern.
We had a wonderful day touring Munich with Michael our tour guide. Wow he made history exciting for those even not that interested. His animation is captivating!
The day ended with a nice dinner at Augustine-Keller brewhouse. Lots of laughs and memories.
Great start to the trip!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First day (2)

By the way, it was great to finally meet my sisters from my great granparents second wife!!! I could not believe it!

First day

Buf, I do not know how to start.... so many thing in just one day... Trip was good, take a long time to arrive to JFK but everything was smooth. Hotel was awesome!!!Guide was so good! Thank you so much Michael to show us the whole city! Dinner was great and german beer (no comments)! Thank so much to Don, Rita and Shannon for the great organization! Thank you to Rabih, Bruce, Andy, John, John2, Susan, Jef, Evan, Fidel and Courtney for staying until the night was over! Thank you Evan for showing us the way to success doing acrobatic moves, Andy for not knowing were the male restroom was and everybody for all the good time and so much laugh!
Tired, happy and looking forward to enjoying a new day!

Day 1...

Excellent tour guide!! Enjoyed the sites and history of Munchen. Want to see more.... nice dinner...& laga:-)..looking forward to the rest of the packed full week!

It Begins!

Smooth sailing through clear skies and 9.5 hours we're here!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trip to Munich!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am finally ready and excited for the trip. The shelving in my closet just felt down but not time to fix it!!!! Passport, sunglasses and running shoes! I am ready! C u tomorrow!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Weeks from Departure!

The blog is now live and I can't wait to see our Weekend MBA students' posts and photos as they take in the sights, sounds, culture, and business of Germany!

Munich here we come!

The Weekend MBA cohort eagerly awaits our trip to Munich, Germany...join us as we begin to blog live from overseas on July 22.