Networking – The Tabasco in the Soup

How I learn from my EMBA classmates with their very diverse backgrounds. And how this compares to my children's Tabasco consumption.

Two of my children love their food extra hot. While I view the constant presence of a Tabasco bottle on the dining table rather sceptically, they explain to me: “A few drops of Tabasco make your dishes perfect.” And then they eat with relish.

For three months now, the EMBA has been my daily bread – or just the “soup of the day”. And the drops of Tabasco that make the enjoyment perfect are my fellow students. The experiential knowledge that these 22 colleagues bring with them expands the learning content of the modules many times over. Our class brings together representatives from the banking world, pharmaceutical industry, IT, gastronomy, transport sector or healthcare, among others. In presentations or pitches, I get a direct insight into companies and tasks that are completely new to me. I had never thought about what machines it takes to bend huge metals (e.g. in the wind tower production) – Alexander Zwahlen of Häusler AG gives insights. The shortage of skilled workers goes from being a theoretical concept to a very concrete reality, after one talk to Patrick Vogel, the CEO of a large gastronomy company. How international companies deal with topics like diversity or sustainability, what the elasticity of the demand curve for pharmaceutical products looks like (steep), but also how banking crises like the current one shake the foundations of our banks, becomes tangible and a learning field through the insights by my colleagues.

It is impressive how the professors respond to the students’ fields of work and concrete practical questions. Assignments do not revolve around theoretical case studies but always focus on a current question from the students’ own professional world. “That’s an interesting question” – is one of the most frequently heard phrases before we examine the next concrete case. Coming from the world of NGOs, I often bring in aspects or questions that are foreign to other professional fields. How does a project valuation or a decision analysis work when – as is the case with us, the Swiss Cancer League – the clients receive our services free of charge, the donors finance the projects and we have to address both target groups at the same time with appropriate marketing? Thinking outside the box opens up new perspectives.

Of course, the benefits of the diversity of our class are not limited to the classroom. On the one hand, we make interesting and helpful contacts and expand our professional network. On the other hand, we are getting to know each other better and better and benefit from each other here as well. After now seven lecture blocks, we know, for example, the motivators who call for an early jog by the lake (thanks Pascal Schuler – it was really great!), we know who has the highest coffee consumption or can never do without the sweet temptations during the break, who are the kings of the “Töggeli-Chaschte” and we hand over the wine selection in the restaurant to the connoisseur. We know who creates the best PowerPoints, who pitches easily and who can explain the most complicated valuation formula to you. The desire to travel is also awakened – on the one hand by the stories of our international colleagues (we will definitely all travel to Qatar at some point, thanks Abdullah!) or by the conversations during the breaks about past or longingly desired next holiday trips. We laugh together, are united in the stress of exams and every reunion is marked by genuine joy. Thank you class – you are the tabasco in my RoBe-soup!