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14.04.2010
15:00

Networking

One of the most important things about being at the European Business School is the network that you build while you are here. The people that you meet here are all great people in their own respective ways. I am still amazed everyday when I talk to some of the people here and find out about their achievements and the backgrounds from which they come. I always believed that there is a something to be learned from everyone but here at the European Business School there is not something but a lot to be learned from everyone.

I was helping a fellow student out the other day as he was sharpening his resume and preparing for an important interview. I must say you really never know who is sitting in front of you; in my case I was sitting in front of a bright entrepreneur who was able to build an organization from the ground up at the young age of twenty-six. It goes without saying that he had a lot of interesting ideas and a mindset for success. Even though I was not expecting anything in return for helping him out, I gained some interesting food for thought for myself.

The point I would like to make is that people are valuable resources if you are open and able to get to know them. I will definitely be making the point to maintain the contacts and relationships which I have established during my time here at the European Business School, and I look forward to continuing on a life-long learning process with all of them.

12.04.2010
15:00

Emerging Markets

In this week’s blog I will be sharing my opinion and thoughts on emerging markets regarding the following: opportunities, risks, market entry and outlook for the future.

Opportunities?

Most certainly! Volatility and inefficiencies are both common characteristics of emerging markets. Wherever there exists volatility and inefficiencies in an economy or market there are opportunities to provide a service or product and make a profit while doing so.

Risk?

A higher risk generally exists in emerging markets due to instability and inefficient infrastructures which support business operations. Many of these inefficiencies are opportunities in their own right and adoption of the associated risk is the same factor that feeds into the potentially big profits.

One could liken emerging markets to the stock market, as both are volatile. That said people still invest in the stock market both when it is up and down! As long as the basic foundation of a market economy, namely the protection of property rights, is in place and has a legitimate judicial system to enforce them, research into possible investment opportunities in the respective emerging market are worthwhile.

Entering an emerging market?

Many big companies have had well reported flops on their attempted entry into an emerging market and almost every time the lack of local knowledge has been what has led to their failure. Hence, companies should use management with local knowledge; otherwise a much lower chance of success will exist. Thus recruit local talent!

Outlook?

As developed markets reach both maturity and saturation the search for value and new areas of growth becomes more difficult. Hence the outlook for emerging markets is bright, as mature markets growth stifles. In addition, the aging population of developed countries is in turn shrinking the markets for many products and service, whereas the emerging markets’ young populations could offer alternatives for companies facing such pressures. The growing income and middle class in emerging markets makes them attractive and hence it is worth pursuing investments in such markets.

08.04.2010
15:05

Company Contact

Today I am going to give you some impression from the various company presentations which I have participated in since I have been here at the EBS. It always amazes me anew when I consider that these companies really take time and effort to come here just to present and talk to us students. Just this week we had a very interesting presentation from the Vice President of beauty from Procter and Gamble. He came with a team of about ten current employees, many of whom actually studied at the EBS.

The presentation he gave was regarding the topic of leadership, a topic which has been addressed many times before. Although the topic is covered by a variety of sources, the viewpoint that was presented by the vice president was uniquely insightful. The presentation was structured not in a theoretical way but in a practical way, more in the form of a conversation as opposed to an actual presentation. The messages given held relevance for everyday decision making and leadership and gave cause for deliberation. It is a learning experience that is difficult to replicate because you are really dealing with a level of professionalism which can only be gained by experience in the field. These types of presentations show once again how the EBS is able to effectively integrate practical aspects to supplement the theoretical teachings.

The company presentations to me have been very valuable platforms not only to learn but also to gain access to companies who I will be considering for employment. After the presentations an informal meet and greet session is always held to give the students and the companies the opportunity to meet on a personal level, of course complemented with an excellent assortment of local wines. I have enjoyed attending these functions and I can say that I have met and talked with some very interesting people, which will hopefully open some doors for later.

 

06.04.2010
15:00

Scholarship Applications

One of the most daunting obstacles when studying is being unfinanced. One of the most stressful processes can be associated with the process of trying to get funding. Scholarships are definitely the first port of call, but they require a lot of effort. Alongside the effort required to put a potentially successful scholarship application together is the growing self-doubt of whether or not you are good enough to apply for the scholarship. One must put all doubts aside and take on the challenge of putting a competitive scholarship application together.

First word of advice: read the scholarship application criteria and requirements carefully. Sorry, I know that sounds like obvious advice and also the kind that you find in every “Exam Tips” booklet, but it really is true. Next tick off all the requirements and criteria that you meet, provided you meet the main leading criteria and the majority of the other sub-criteria, then put your application together. For as the famous saying goes “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

Now do not begin at this stage trying to rationalize yourself out of doing all the work of putting a scholarship application together by thinking up common excuses like, “Thousands of people are going to apply for this scholarship that are better than me,” or “I am afraid of interviews,” or “I am no beggar”. As at the end of the day many people are not going to apply for precisely the same thought-up excuses. Also, scholarships are not given to undeserving people, hence you will not fall into the last category of excuse mentioned. To be honest once you have put one scholarship application together the other applications that follow are easier.

My second and last word of advice: pay particular attention to detail in your application, as even small errors will immediately put your application at a disadvantage. And lastly on a similar note, include all relevant documents that could assist your application. In other words, additional documents and certificates that are relevant in supporting your application should be included. The key word here is relevant, as applications with inappropriate supporting documentation are weakened considerably.

In 2009 I put together five scholarship applications, which was an extremely time consuming and taxing process, but turned out to be worthwhile. After a few grueling interviews I was successful with two of the five scholarships applications, namely the eXebs Citi Foundation Scholarship and eXebs Friedrich J. Schoening International Scholarship supported by DAAD. In addition I managed to obtain admittance to the eXebs Fellowship which allowed me to apply for the eXebs Bildungsfonds where my application was also successful.

So apply, apply and keep on applying is the advice I can give. Yes it is an effort, but if you meet the criteria of the scholarship or come extremely close to the criteria for the scholarship, then apply. Leave taking a bank loan as your last resort to funding your studies.

31.03.2010
15:00

Life in Germany vs. Life in South Africa

As a South African living in Germany, I am often asked what the differences are between life in Germany and life in South Africa. To be honest, though there are many answers, the small differences between South Africa and Germany are more entertaining to write about, so here goes.

Autobahn. The first time I was in Germany back in 2002 I was irritated by the huge walls next to the Autobahn every time I passed a town, and I wondered “What are they there for?” As a tourist I wanted to see the little villages and towns as we drove from Frankfurt to Eisenach. And then it came to me, the barrier was obviously to keep people from crossing the Autobahn and also to keep wild animals off the road. You can imagine what an anti-climax it was when I found out that the walls were there merely as sound buffers or barriers. As in South Africa we have a lot of pedestrians involved in accidents on the highways, primarily due to them crossing the road, which is not allowed-- for obvious reasons. In some rural areas broken fences raise the risk of livestock or wild animals being on the highways too.

Breakfast. I must admit that my first breakfast in Germany was a miniature culture shock: salami, ham, cheese, liver pâté, and what appeared to be raw mincemeat. I had to check my watch as I thought I had woken up at lunch time. The breakfast egg, coffee and toast on the table kept me calm and I ended up having coffee and toast. In South Africa I was used to usually having breakfast cereal and on Sundays we had a cooked breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, toast, sausage and fried onion and tomatoes.

Gardens. It took me a long time to understand who exactly lived in the small fenced off gardens with tiny houses on them. Initially I thought to myself that there were in fact a lot of poor people in Germany, as on the edge of every city I went to there were these small fenced off Gardens with tiny little wooden huts on them, some nicer than others. As I came to Germany during winter the first time, I really wondered how anyone could survive in such a hut in minus temperatures; I thought to myself that generalization ‘Germans are tough’ must be true. Subsequently I found out that these spaces were just gardens and only used in summer. Well, that was also strange to me-- having a garden that was not on the same property as your home.

Public Transport. Lastly, the public transport system here is really great in comparison to the one in South Africa. The South African authorities have been working relentlessly to upgrade the country’s public transport system, and I truly hope that it serves the needs of the World Cup visitor as well as being sustainable after the World Cup has ended.

After five visits to Germany between 2002 and 2005 I have grown used to and do not always notice the small differences that initially were so apparent for me between South Africa and Germany. These days it is only when I go back to South Africa that I notice the differences between Germany and South Africa, which is a little ironic!

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