Sharpen the AXE at THM Business School and Broaden your horizon at Pfeiffer University, Charlotte
The idiomatic expressions "sharpen the axe" and "broaden your horizon" encapsulate invaluable concepts in the realm of personal and professional development. At THM Business School in Germany, honing our skills can truly equip us with specialized business knowledge—an act comparable to sharpening the axe. On the other hand, expanding our horizons at Pfeiffer University in the USA exposes us to a spectrum of academic, cultural, and community experiences. Ultimately, our educational journey stands to be enriched by synergizing these two approaches for learning and growth.
Moreover, engaging with THM professors fosters personal skill development and professional growth, elevating our strategic thinking. Networking opportunities with fellow classmates create valuable connections and pave the way for promising career prospects. The mandatory international conference at Pfeiffer University in Charlotte, USA, a key component of THM MBA Business School, enables us to explore global perspectives and partake in discussions on international issues.
The visit to Charlotte, renowned for its Economic Diversification, transforming from a textile and manufacturing hub into a financial and tech center, underscores the significance of diversifying local economies. Charlotte's adaptive transformation imparts crucial knowledge, emphasizing the necessity for continual adaptability in the face of changing economic landscapes. As a young generation, we must similarly embrace adaptability.
Charlotte's sustained focus on education and research institutions has been instrumental in its growth and innovativeness, attracting talent and propelling economic development. Parallel to this, our investment in education in today's rapidly changing world serves as a means to sharpen our axes, preparing us for emerging technologies and securing a brighter future. Broadening our horizons becomes a lifelong journey, demanding curiosity, an open mind, and a willingness to step outside our comfort zone.
With the aim of imparting the success story of Charlotte's economic growth to MBA students from THM, Dr. Mary Beth Chambers, our conference host from Pfeiffer University, orchestrated a compelling first day. She curated an insightful lineup of three distinguished guest speakers from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), shedding light on the collaborative dynamics between NGOs and the Charlotte government in transforming and advancing the local economy. To prepare us for engaging discussions, Dr. Chambers offered hints during her introduction and facilitated an icebreaker on the art of asking thought-provoking questions—a skill paramount in enhancing communication, problem-solving, and overall comprehension of diverse topics.
The first speaker, Karen Davison from the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA), shared the pivotal role of CRBA in promoting economic development, business growth, and prosperity within the Charlotte region. The organization achieves this by cultivating a favorable business environment and fostering collaboration among businesses and community stakeholders.
Following that, Will Pitts, Vice President of the Charlotte Sport Foundation (CSF), delved into the foundation's primary focus: promoting and hosting sports-related events. This mission aligns with the broader objectives of the Charlotte government, contributing to the enhancement of tourism and visitor experiences.
The final speaker of the day, Patty Hunter from the Charlotte Regional Visitor Authority (CRVA), elucidated the role of CRVA as a non-profit organization closely collaborating with the city of Charlotte. CRVA's mission revolves around both promoting the region and ensuring that tourism brings tangible benefits to the local community and economy.
The collaborative ethos of Charlotte was vividly demonstrated on Monday, 18th September, during a community engagement event. The local football team, the Charlotte Panthers, hosted a game that drew residents from the Charlotte region to the stadium in enthusiastic support of their beloved team, turning the city into a sea of blue. This vibrant display showcased the robust collaboration between the city and its stakeholders, fostering a sense.
On the second day of the conference, Dr. Chamber delivered a crucial message regarding the necessity for critical thinking and Blue Ocean strategies. She emphasized that facing challenges and competition in overcrowded industries is an unsustainable approach for achieving high performance. The genuine opportunity lies in creating blue oceans—uncontested market spaces. The term "red ocean" was used to represent existing industries, where the market space is known, boundaries are defined and accepted, and the competitive rules are well understood. In contrast, the term "blue ocean" was employed to denote industries that do not currently exist, representing unknown market spaces untainted by competition.
As MBA Business School students, we were all encouraged to embody a generation with Blue Ocean critical thinking. This involves engaging in business where there is no competition by creating new territory and developing markets.
To reinforce the concept of becoming a generation with Blue Ocean critical thinking, Dr. Chamber invited guest speaker Mr. Brad Zimmerman from Pratt & Miller. Mr. Zimmerman shared his passion for sports and his innovative Blue Ocean thinking. He expressed discomfort with generic rules and explained that he prefers consistently challenging himself. This approach has not only shaped his career journey but has also allowed him to attain his current position. He takes pride in working in a business aligned with his passion, contributing to the city of Charlotte, and developing new business models for his engineering company. Originally focused solely on the sports industry (NASCAR Race), the company expanded and implemented its expertise into the defense industry.
The second day of the seminar concluded with a site visit to the successful local service company, "Champion Wheel & Tire," owned by Kevin Mahl & Todd Carpenter. The company's success story includes maintaining a strong relationship with Good Year Wheel & Tire manufacturer. Additionally, Champion Wheel & Tire garnered significant attention for their innovative partnership, ranging from patented inventions to a new technique for opening tires.
On the third day of the conference, Dr. Chamber underscored the significance of connecting dots using the Six Thinking Hats methodology. According to her, the Six Thinking Hats represent distinct perspectives or thinking styles, and through their systematic application, we can delve into various facets of a problem or decision. Following her insightful speech, we delved into a case study on Tourism & Economic Impact.
To reinforce the notion that tourism can significantly impact the economy of Charlotte City, Dr. Chamber took us on a visit to Charlotte Douglas Airport. Our exploration of this bustling airport, considered one of the busiest in the U.S., was accompanied by an enlightening presentation by Mr. Stuart Hair, the Director of Commercial & Community Engagement. We were all impressed to learn that Charlotte Airport stands as one of the largest economic drivers in the region, catalyzing business growth and contributing substantial revenue to the city through taxes and fees.
To culminate the activities on day 3 of the conference, Dr. Chamber treated us to an official dinner at the Fahrenheit restaurant at the Hyatt Palace Hotel. This venue provided a breathtaking view of Charlotte city and its landscape, offering a close-up perspective from the rooftop of the Skyline Building. The stunning scenery added to the overall astonishment of the evening, making it a memorable and visually captivating experience for all attendees.
As MBA Business School students, poised to become the future leaders in our respective companies, Dr. Chamber delved into the topic of leadership, particularly how to cultivate it within virtual teams. Establishing a successful virtual team necessitates meticulous planning, effective communication, and the implementation of appropriate tools and processes. Virtual leadership, to be effective, demands transparent communication, the establishment of trust, and leveraging technology to facilitate seamless collaboration.
To underscore this message, Dr. Chamber organized a site visit to White Water Park, where we engaged in team-building activities through real-case game simulations. This hands-on experience allowed us to witness firsthand the dynamics of teamwork and leadership in a virtual context.
Throughout the team-building exercises, we were able to discern and feel the differences between the cultural approaches in the USA and Germany. These distinctions encompassed aspects such as informality versus formality, leadership styles, and risk tolerance. For instance, team-building in the United States tends to emphasize inclusivity, individualism, and open communication. The American approach encourages active participation, brainstorming, and democratic decision-making. On the other hand, German team-building may exhibit a more structured nature, focusing on hierarchical roles and clearly defined processes. There could be a preference for thorough planning and adherence to established protocols. This experiential learning allowed us to appreciate the cultural nuances influencing effective leadership within virtual teams, providing valuable insights for our future roles as leaders in the business landscape.
Having absorbed valuable lessons over the span of four intensive days, from Monday to Thursday, the moment of showcasing our understanding finally arrived. We were tasked with presenting the case study we had diligently prepared in our groups, utilizing the limited free time available amidst the conference activities. The culmination occurred at Pfeiffer University, where our final presentation unfolded. Notably, the audience extended beyond MBA Business School students to include professors from Pfeiffer University and their students.
Following the presentation, Dr. Chamber led us on a tour of the entire Pfeiffer University campus. This excursion provided insights into the distinctions between the German and American education systems, campus design, and the overall campus environment.
The capstone to our five-day conference in the USA occurred on Friday evening with a site visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum. The visit included an official dinner and the formal handover of the Certificate of Attendance. In summary, our excitement to visit Charlotte and participate in the Advanced Business Development conference organized by Pfeiffer University was met with fulfillment. The conference not only enriched our knowledge through excellent guest speakers and profound insights from the case study but, crucially, it provided overseas experiences that taught us the art of managing openness to maximize positive network effects.
A key takeaway from this international conference is the understanding that successful team innovation demands both the ability to generate novel ideas and the skill to execute those ideas collectively. The development of new skills or refinement of existing ones enhances our confidence and effectiveness in various aspects of life and work. Moreover, broadening our horizons through overseas experiences yields numerous benefits, offering valuable insights into international issues, politics, and economies, which are increasingly significant in our interconnected world.
by Ketut Adnyana