Four months into life in Europe and our MBA cohort were off to visit the de facto capital of the European Union – Brussels!
Before leaving for Brussels we had a chance to present on one of the seven EU Flagship initiatives. My group were assigned the Innovation Union which aims to create 3.7 million jobs by 2020 and bring in approximately €800 billion to the EU by 2025. This made me curious as to how the EU organizes itself to achieve such a mammoth task, considering this was just one of seven initiatives.
On the 7th of January 2016, 55 MBA students entered the EU Parliament to see where 751 MEPs (Members of European Parliament) act on behalf of its 500 million citizens. A short time into the tour my classmate, Alex Sear commented “It’s really a parliament of parliaments”. This really hit home when I entered “the chamber”. A room housing lobbyists, MEPs, the council, interpreters, EU commissioners, the President and Secretariat. Seeing the translation booths we were informed that 24 official EU languages are spoken in the chamber, making a total of 552 possible language combinations. Mindboggling.
Upon leaving the Parliament I realized I had gained new knowledge which enabled me to, later that night and for the first time ever, have an intelligent conversation with my cousin who is a lobbyist living in Brussels.
The following day we heard a very inspiring presentation by serial entrepreneur Omar Mohout, Growth Engineer and Mentor supporting the development of startups in Brussels. He summed up his life saying, “As an entrepreneur, you go through 3 stages: 1. Make money, 2. Make the customer happy, 3. Make yourself happy. I’m in the third stage”. He discussed how startups can grow and keep a lean operation. He also dispelled the myth that you can predict disruption technology, encouraging entrepreneurs to prove their concept through small scale trials in the market. We then heard from Le Wagon coding school which is a rapidly expanding startup. This morning session gave us insight into the role of technology and innovation in a business’ growth as well as the startup environment in Belgium and Europe.
The trip ended with a nice lunch over beer and some last minute chocolate purchases, before a group of us bid Brussels farewell for a 3 hour journey to Amsterdam. It was great to fit in our own social trip before the start of our MBA core 3!
Alisa is studying our Full-Time MBA programme.