Beer, BMW and bytes in Bavaria
The FHS St.Gallen organises more than 15 study trips each year. On one of these, the students travelled to Munich to address the subject of agility. In the German city, they had the chance to see how the content they had learned at the FHS St.Gallen is put to use in an international environment.
According to Michael Czarniecki, excursion leader and lecturer at the FHS St.Gallen, the aim of the study trip is for students to experience at first hand how the learned content is applied within Bavarian companies. “This keeps it fresh in the memory for longer,” he says. Under the main topic of “agility”, the students visited the international companies Hofbräu Munich, the BMW Group and Microsoft.
When babies were fed with beer
The first stop on our educational journey to Munich was Hofbräu München. On being taught about the history of the company, we learned that beer was once preferred to water. This is because bacteria are removed from it during the brewing process. Nevertheless, FHS student Estelle Gfrerer was still surprised to learn that even babies were given beer after the breastfeeding period.
On the next step of the journey, the students found out how the amber nectar is made. We learned about the different types of hops and malts that influence the taste of beer. We were then given an insight into the food and beer industry during the presentation “Converting customer needs into products” by Christian Hackl, CEO of TUM Tech. With our backpacks full of information, we eventually brought the evening to a close at the Hofbräuhaus München.
From blank canvas to innovation
On our next stop-off, we got to learn about another internationally successful company, the BMW Group. At the Research and Innovation Centre, everyone who influences BMW’s innovations can be found under one roof. During the guided tour, we found out many things that are normally kept hidden from outsiders.
After refuelling on pretzels, our existing ways of working and thinking were turned on their head during the presentation “The Future of Mobility” by Martin Hauschild, Head of Traffic Technology at BMW. Hauschild emphasised that the full potential of innovations can only be exploited if you start with a blank canvas. For example, we would never have gone from the candle to the lightbulb if we had merely tried to evolve the candle. Hauschild also explained how different international requirements have to be taken into account when designing a car. At the end of the tour, a student trainee talked to us about the different opportunities for students to join BMW.
Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset
On the final leg of our journey, we got to experience the corporate culture of Microsoft. In the company’s entrance hall, we not only marvelled at the Xbox equipment but also at the “digital chandelier”, a collection of large displays that show the weather and the time of day in different cities, for example. Kay Mantzel, Experience Lead at Microsoft, tells us about the “new” working environment at Microsoft. A few years ago, they switched from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. According to Mantzel, the new mindset highlights the fact that intelligence is not predetermined but, instead, can be learned. Employees are encouraged to accept challenges for which mistakes are permitted. Only in this way can failure result in success. Mantzel emphasizes that Microsoft’s main focus is on flexibility. For instance, the company’s office is no longer a typical workplace but, rather, a place of communication. Like the one at BMW, the tour at Microsoft also ended with a get-together with other interns and trainees, who spoke enthusiastically about how they joined the company.
This last stop – the “new” working environment of Microsoft – was particularly impressive. The options for flexible working are very different to the previous experiences that we, the authors of this text, have had at other companies. The premises of Microsoft are exactly how we would like our future workplace to look.
* Michèle Huber & Jenny Dal-Zotto are students on the Bachelor of Business Administration degree program, with a Minor in Marketing and Corporate Communications. The trip to Munich took place as part of an interdisciplinary context studies module.
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