Masters Insights: February 2016 – ‘New Year in Manchester & Part 1 of interview with Alexander Staub’

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“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something … Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
Neil Gaiman

Hello, Manchester! A new year begins and with it all the challenges and wishes that we set to ourselves; that inalienable and insatiable condition of human beings of perseverance, of pursuing dreams and achieving goals (despite their dimensions) seems to be triggered with the beginning of a new year. And why not? We all deserve a chance to shine, to thrive, and what a better opportunity than to continue on this high-pitched roller coaster of an adventure that living and studying in Manchester has been for most of us.

I’d like to talk about several things that have happened in the past few weeks, as Semester 2 at Alliance MBS unfolds to the MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (IME) students with a variety of diverse and interesting units, which promise new and entertaining challenges. Later on, I will share with you the first part of an interview that I conducted with one of our fellow students on the IME course, the super-talented Alexander Staub, regarding his perspective on the course and life in Manchester.

Where to begin? I believe the first stop must be the final examinations. For over two weeks my fellow students and I spent great part of our days preparing for the final exams of three of our units. A routine highly dominated by short lapses of sleep, big doses of coffee, quick meals and avalanches of reading material on the topics of innovation and entrepreneurship.

For over two weeks many thoughts were buzzing in our heads, mostly concerning the inevitable uncertainty and anxiety of our first exams at The University of Manchester. How were they going to be? How should we prepare for them? After the first exam, most of us felt like some of that heavy weight was taken off and it went with the other two. After the last exam —which preparation required a huge revision of several topics— the expression in my classmates’ faces was priceless. Everybody was relaxed and mostly satisfied, we were just done with the first semester of this course. And that merited celebration! And so we did…

As a river that cannot stop its course, the course kept on and all we had between our last exam from Semester 1 and the beginning of classes for Semester 2 was a weekend. A long weekend, dominated by parties, pubs and Sunday sports. Our new classes just began and, although we were divided according to our optative choices, parties and casual pubs rendez-vous never stop for the IME people. This week the whole class gathered to celebrate Chinese New Year where we had a wide selection of homemade dumplings by our Chinese classmates and some lucky money to bring us fortune all the way from China.

Done with exams

Done with exams

Waiting for Chinese New Year

Waiting for Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Monkey!

Happy Year of the Monkey!

Moving on to the essence of student life in Manchester, which in my opinion lies in the great opportunity that you have to meet people from different backgrounds, nationalities and diverse mind-sets, I would like to delight you with the perspective of one of my fellow students (and a good friend of mine) on living and studying in Manchester. If you are a thinking of studying this course, I believe this interview will have a clear impact on your choice.

Alexander Staub is from Vienna, Austria. As a true Austrian, his favourite football team is Austria Vienna and his favourite animal is not the kangaroo (probably due to all the times he has had to explain the difference between Australia and his hometown); his favourite animal is the tiger, though. He is one of the student representatives on the IME course and as a true leader and proactive student he is enrolled in several societies and clubs at the University.

Alex, why did you choose to study this Masters course at The University of Manchester?
I chose to study at Manchester due to a number of reasons. First of all, I was accepted to a Masters course at my home university, the Vienna University of Business and Economics. However, as I was in pursuit of an international exposure and achieved academic validation by being accepted to an MSc course, I set out to research other universities based in Europe.

I narrowed down my search, based on rankings and fields of interest, to Strathclyde, Grenoble School of Business and Alliance Manchester Business School. After receiving offers from all three, I decided to choose Manchester for my MSc degree. I based this decision on the current rankings of the school as well as the fact that Manchester has the greatest density of innovation management researchers in Europe. Furthermore, I was informed that the course would subject me to a set of students with a broad range of academic and cultural backgrounds.

What would you think are the best things about living in Manchester?
In my opinion, the best things about Manchester are:

  • The international vibe with influences in the South from India, Pakistan and Arab cultures, as well as China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Far east in general.
  • The amazing energy of the city. Even though the core of Manchester is very small, there is so much going on every day that you constantly have the feeling of missing out on something. Coming from Vienna, a city that always sleeps, it was a welcome change of scene.
  • The compactness of the city with a wide range of public transport amenities; an international airport for travelling abroad, a railway station connecting the city to the rest of the UK and a functional bus and tram infrastructure to take you anywhere you want.
  • The amount of students in Manchester is incredible. Wherever you go you encounter people your age with a hands-on mentality.

Generally, Manchester is the place to be if you are interested in entrepreneurship and business in general as it is expanding like crazy. Ask a person who lived here 5 years ago and you will probably get a very different perspective on Manchester than I gave you here. Ask someone in 2020 and they will probably have a completely different experience of living here.

Moving on to student-life, what are the best things about studying this programme?
Studying at Alliance MBS is entirely different to my undergraduate experience. As a student on the MSc Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, you are given the feeling of being part of an amazing movement rippling through the entire country. I can’t imagine a better place (beside Stanford) to study this topic, as there are a number of incubators, exhibitors, competitions and entrepreneurial-minded people all over the city. The course itself gives you a good balance of encouraging you to found your own start-up as well as cutting edge research on innovation management within companies and the economy as a whole. With a few exceptions, every professor on our course give you the impression that they are passionate about their subject and are of an international calibre in their discipline.

Are you part of a student club? How would you describe this experience so far?
Coming from Vienna, where the only clubs and societies you could join were political organisations or sports clubs, I went on a society spree the moment I set foot on campus. I believe I must have enrolled in 20 or more clubs and societies, which allowed me to explore a wide range of different extracurricular activities. At The University of Manchester you are given the opportunity to pursue extracurricular activities you are passionate about, from fundraising to parachuting, or football to Quidditch (not a typo, there is a Quidditch society here!!). Currently I am active in the consulting, graphene and comedy society, as well as the consulting and entrepreneurship club. Furthermore I am a board member of the Technology, Media and Telecommunication Club, which is great for building your skills in project management as well as leadership and communication skills.

The clubs and societies are usually led very professionally and it is amazing to witness the effort students put into these organisations beside the considerable amount of university work.

Interviewing Alexander Staub

Interviewing Alexander Staub

As you can see, The University of Manchester is rich with energetic, pro-active, open-minded, easy-going people, who just like Alex are taking advantage of several things that the University and the city provides you with. Stay tuned for the second part of this interview, as Manchester student life keeps unfolding as a colour spectrum for those privileged by the opportunity of being here.

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Daniel Dominguez Agiss

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