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Dual Degree Student Jessica Harmer goes to The 2019 MBA World Summit

25 /03 /2019
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 Knocking two sticks together, she held long enchanting notes while he sat on the floor and blew into a wooden instrument in the shape of a long thin log. The other dancers banged the ground with their feet and pushed the air with flapping arms. At the start of each day, sometimes each change in event space, the speakers and summit leaders took time to thank and show appreciation for the original owners of the land past, future and present. Sometimes there was a demonstration and other times just a moment of gratitude. This learning included a traditional aboriginal dance team welcoming guests to the space and to their people’s land.

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The 2019 MBA World Summit was held between March 13 and 15 in Sydney, Australia at the UNSW Business School. In those few days, 100 students from the top MBA programs in the world were invited to attend and participate in a week of workshops, discussions, talks and networking. The MBA Summit Community is a growing global network of dynamic leaders who will be on the cutting edge of innovation and change that shape future headlines and societies. Once a student has been invited, she or he has a permanent invite to all future MBA summits. Therefore, in addition to current students, many participants were returning members from previous years. While the summit is only six years old, the seeds have been well planted. Many members shared how they found jobs and steered careers with connections from this network. Therefore, the main objective of this annual event and community is that, as time goes on and the summit grows in years, so will its membership and participation, and with that the connections and global reach to all corners of the globe.

Day 1 included introductions, a welcome from the event organizers and parent company leaders,and talks about artificial intelligence from of the fastest growing companies in the Asia Pacific – all from the Museum of Contemporary Art, in an event room that overlooked the Sydney Harbor and Opera House. On the second day, 20 pre-selected students presented and facilitated learning sessions in areas they either have experience or are passionate about. The summit is adamant about ensuring the “voice” of the student body is heard during these learning sessions. On the third, day MBA teams were created to work on an expansion strategy for a local and successful startup in Sydney.

As one of the selected students to offer their “voice” at the summit, I created a Design Thinking for Social Innovation workshop, in which students practiced the steps of Design Thinking as well as brainstormed how this methodology could be applied to their own companies. At the end of the 20 sessions, participants were asked to vote on their favorite session. Yours truly, Jessica Harmer, representing IE University within the International MBA and Masters in International Relations program, received the honor of the Tim-Eisenmann Award. I have already spent significant time practicing this approach in previous professional experiences, and as of lately have been researching this topic as it aligns with my master’s thesis. You could say the topic is a passion of mine. However, I have to admit that any Design Thinking workshop success is always cultivated by the individual effort of the participants within the workshop. I owe a big thank you to those that attended the session and another special thank you to my IE classmate, Daniela Cadena, who helped me with the slides during finals week of the MIR program!

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To say that I have made lifelong professional connections at the annual MBA Summit would be an understatement. The buzz and energy around innovative business, from passionate young minds and company leaders, is electrifying and inspiring. I am still surprised at how close a group can become after just three days. On my last night in Sydney, I went out to dinner with a small group of members still in town. After three days of intense collaboration, pitches to the crowds and herding the masses, it was nice to finally sit down and reflect with an intimate group. We laughed like old friends, spoke freely like we had known each other for years and vowed to all attend the summit in Frankfurt the following year. On both a personal and professional level I respect every member of my community, which includes some of the brightest and hardest working individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I look forward to seeing where life takes each of us and to the opportunity of collaborating again.