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The Student Becomes the Teacher: Alumnus Returns to SHU Lux as Guest Lecturer

Leading & Influencing with Integrity, a compulsory course in the MBA program, has always been an interactive and dynamic course. But on Monday’s session, the classroom transformed into a theater when Director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and SHU Alumnus, Tom Leick-Burns, MBA (Class of 2012) took the stage in his debut role as Guest Lecturer.

Having been a former student in the course, Professor Mary Trefry initially invited Leick-Burns to speak to her class to offer some insight as to why he decided to pursue an MBA and share a bit of his professional/life experiences.

It has only been a year since Leick-Burns succeeded his predecessor Frank Feitler, as the Director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg. Speaking on the context of being a leader after being an employee of the company for nearly 10 years, he says,

When I was appointed as the Director, I was very nervous about how the job would go. The trust that Frank put in me was equally flattering and terrifying. I used to compare myself with him and people used to ask me what changes I would bring in. But then I realized that I am what I am and I shouldn’t compare myself with anyone. I told everyone that I am not going to change anything, but will certainly develop things. If you are true to yourself, you can achieve a lot of things.

WGB 612 Leading & Influencing with Integrity Guest Lecture, Tom Leick-Burns, offers his wisdom and insight on pursuing an MBA and being Director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg

Elaborating on the need to believe in yourself, Leick-Burns added,

I know that I have worked hard for the job and I did my MBA so that I am qualified for the job. So why should I doubt myself?

According to Leick-Burns being a leader means one has to be a fast learner, and also be able to make decisions quickly. He explained that you don’t always have time get everyone’s input, therefore having a core team of trusted and authentic colleagues to discuss your decisions amongst  is a crucial component of a successful leader.

Despite the class running late into the evening , both students and Leick-Burns were equally enthusiastic to engage in a Q&A session.

QUESTION

What challenges have you faced as a leader?
– Samy Mzabi, Welch MBA student

ANSWER

The main challenge for me was to shut out the voice in my head saying, ‘you are not good enough’. Once you get that out, you will have clear thoughts.
– Tom Leick-Burns, Director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, MBA (Class of 2012)

QUESTION

As a leader, how to do you draw a line between being a friend and being a boss?
– Jouda Adada, Welch MBA with internship student

ANSWER

To strike out a balance, one needs to know and understand one’s job and responsibilities very well. From my experiences and from what I have learnt, you don’t need to shout at people to get things done.

If you are authentic with your colleagues, you can earn the respect and the trust that is necessary to succeed in a leadership role.
– Tom Leick-Burns, Director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, MBA (Class of 2012)

My Luxembourg Experience

Derek Moore is the Assistant Wresting Coach and a Part Time MBA student at Jack F. College of Business at Sacred Heart University, Fairfield. He came to Luxembourg with his fellow classmates for the Knowledge Management course (Management Elective BU 699) taught by Michael Zhang. Derek shared his experience learning course and also what he did during his stay in Luxembourg.

 

I enjoyed the class. Each evening I was able to sit next to another student and interact with them during the breaks. Although we did not always agree, the discussions were positive in nature and communicated in a way which does not attack or degrade other’s opinion.

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Having a class with students from 10+ different countries I got to know the students and learn from their varied cultural experiences. The difference came from the diverse student base, their viewpoint on subject matter, the way in which they communicate and how they work with others. I am very impressed with their level of dedication, to their education and openness to share their opinions.

Bofferding

We were happy to have two corporate visits during this study trip: Bofferding & PayPal. The experience at Bofferding was unique because they took us into the areas where they stool brew their beer. They have a rich history as a family owned beer with majority market share in Luxembourg. We were also happy to learn that one of the managers was a former student of the MBA program in Luxembourg.

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The PayPal visit was incredibly interesting and enlightening.  The COO spent a good amount of time with us along with two other employees, sharing where PayPal has been, it’s growth, where they are headed and how they manage knowledge within the company.

Aside from the course, we had a weekend trip to Amsterdam and Brussels, and it was fantastic. We started by touring the city by foot, enjoying the delicious food and taking in the beautiful scenery of the unique water ways. We were fortunate enough to purchase tickets for the Anne Frank museum and visited her hiding place during WWII. It was sad but amazing.

Ams-Brus

Brussels was another beating city with lots to see. We probably put in 6 miles on foot that day. We visited Manneken Pis, went to a bar with over 2,000 beers, enjoyed their delicious waffles and are on the famous Rue de Brochures.

It was a great stay and went by all too fast.

CONNECTED forever!

Being on the field is always a wonderful experience, be it anywhere. The five students from SHU, Luxembourg had the first hand experience in Business market functions during their two weeks of 2016 USA-Luxembourg Connections Summer Enrichment Program in the U.S. From July 17 to July 30, 2016, these students attended classes with their U.S. counterparts at SHU campuses in Stamford and Fairfield, and also visited corporate houses like NYSE, IBM, and Sandler O’Neil. Having been exposed to the bigger world, what were the main insights from the program? Let’s hear it from them.

Paulo Fernandes (Student, Welch MBA):

PauloThis was not my first trip to the U.S. but the experience was different and refreshing. The 2016 USA-Luxembourg Connections Summer Enrichment Program created strong links between the MBA colleagues, both Luxembourg and the U.S. based.

Out of the corporate visits we had, I personally liked the Sandler O’Neill visit the most. The takeaways from the discussions with Bob Castrignano (Principal, Equity Sales, Sandler O’Neil), about what made his success, amongst other topics, were very interesting. The story about what happened to the company after 9/11 and his commitment to help rebuild the company was inspiring. A very good visit.

The classes were also very interesting. Obviously, due to cultural differences, professors and students have different point of views and perspectives on many subjects, which is a good thing as it created very interesting discussions.

During the weekdays we went to the beaches close to Stamford several times. We went for a run regularly and played sports such as Basketball and Tennis. For our free two-day weekend, we decided to rent a car and drive to Atlantic City. It was a lot of fun! We enjoyed the beach, the good food and the parties.

I realized the importance of connections and creating and keeping a good network with this trip.

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 Maria del Rosario Cleofe Chavez Cortez (Student, Welch MBA with internship)

MariaThe CONNECTIONS program was full of great moments, but this trip gave me the opportunity to meet new people with awesome perspectives and ideas on different business topics. This trip was my best experience, and of course it was more than what I expected. Being there, with perfect sunny days, visiting important companies and meeting new people, gave me the chance to acquire more business insights and earn new connections.

All the corporate visits gave me the opportunity to learn something new and also taught me some important lessons. The most interesting visit to me was to the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange). It was so exciting to see people working on the trading floor, a place which I am used to seeing in photographs, newspaper and on business TV channels.

The SHU students from Fairfield are friendly and everyone supported us for any need. They are competent and showed engagement during classes. It is difficult to compare professors, because all our professors are amazing professionals that answer all our questions concerning doubts or curiosities. Through an international perspective, all classes were explained under different point of views, and everyone was unique.

I enjoyed every corner of New York City. I visited the MOMA, the Rockefeller center, Atlantic city and also some amazing beaches, such as West Beach and Cove Island Park in Stamford. I will remember the nice people I met from this trip and all the efforts of Prof. Mary Trefry who worked a lot for this program. And New York City, with all its chaos and frenetic life, it was simply magic.

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 Fabián Mejía Pinto (Student, Welch MBA)

FabianWith this trip I reinforce the importance of the technology-enabled connections and the social capital and also the importance of developing strong and weak links through social media and different technology based channels.

All our corporate visits were very interesting, but IBM visit was my favorite. We met Watson, the technology platform that use natural processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data (http://www.ibm.com/watson/what-is-watson.html). This kind of machines can really improve the capacity to analyze large amounts of data and help in decision making processes in any service or industry.

We had very good lectures and group discussions about Developing Social Capital in the era of global networks connections, Marketing in the age of social media and Big data and predictive analytics. We had an excellent atmosphere between the Luxembourg based students and developed very good relationship with the US based students. In class, we had interesting debates about US presidential elections, sustainability and environment, where we could see differences of opinions.

Meetings and dinners with SHU professors like Alfred Steinherr and Mary Trefry and with US executives like Richard Robustelli and Robert Castrignano were very interesting and enriching.
Now that we all are back, we expect to keep in contact with the U.S. based students and maintain the great relationship we built with them.

SHU Students Visit IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

It was more than just a visit for Dr. Alfred Steinher, Academic Director, Sacred Heart University, Luxembourg, when he accompanied five students of the 2016 USA-Luxembourg Connections Summer Enrichment Program for the corporate visit of the Thomas J. Watson Research Center at IBM Headquarters in Yorktown.

On July 22 we visited this world famous IBM research center, set up in the 1960s by T.J Watson, the founder of IBM, as part of the two-week study program for students from Luxembourg at the main University campus in Fairfield, CT. Our visit lasted from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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The IBM campus extends over the rolling hills of Yorktown surrounded by prime estates for executives of the wider New York area. It is a dream location, spacious, green, peaceful. We were graciously hosted by two Luxembourgers: Laurent Schares and Michel Hack. Laurent studied in Paris before doing his Ph.D. in physics at MIT. Michel got his Ph.D. from the Swiss Technical University in Zurich and both happily have been ever since with IBM in Yorktown. The center is a playground for Nobel Laureates and those working toward it. Despite the relaxed style, thousands of patents are being generated here. It was home of the most powerful computer in the world until IBM was overtaken by a Chinese super computer. The research activity of the center is surprisingly diverse and we got a good taste of that: we had presentations on blockchain technology and security, on quantum computing, on weather forecasts at the micro level (per square mile) and we could participate in a Jeopardy game (playing against a program developed by IBM) that has been a big success on US television. What a day!