Three Courses and One Great Experience

October 14, 2019
• by
Parker Banfield

Studying at three different universities means you need to adapt to three different ways of teaching, grading, and potentially even studying. While that may seem daunting at the outset, I’ve found the uniqueness of the classes I’ve taken at each university to be extremely valuable. It’s hard just to pick a few, but I’d like to share the course that has been most memorable for me at HKUST, Bocconi, and Marshall.

 At HKUST as a WBB student, you’ll have the opportunity to take a “Doing Business in Asia” class, which was incredibly helpful for me. Organized in a case study fashion, we read cases involving various businesses in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) facing an issue. When it was your team’s week, you would develop a solution to the case and present it to the class. Otherwise, you would individually write up a case report. Through these cases, we were able to explore issues that we might have to confront when doing business in cross-border and cross-culture situations. There’re many nuances to successful international business operations I would never have realized before taking this course. It’s more than an issue of language barriers; for example, the Chinese concept of ‘guanxi’. Somewhat nebulous, it essentially relates to the exchange of favors or personal connections that are extremely powerful in the Chinese business context. Weekly speakers were also brought in to share their experiences with conducting business in APAC. Listening to these business leaders and trying to internalize the lessons they’ve learned was one of the most valuable aspects of the course.

 “European Economic Policy” was by far my favorite course at Bocconi. We explored the structure and function of the European Union, its policies, and the economic theory that shapes those policies as well as the impact they have on business. Further, we looked at how national governments interact with the European Union, and the dynamic effect rising nationalism in Europe has had on policy and business. My professor, Italo Colantone, was a star. He was so clearly passionate about the topic you couldn’t help but get excited about it. And it’s economics…that’s not an easy feat! Although, I am the kid who enjoyed AP US Government, so I suppose you should take that with a grain of salt. What I learned in class didn’t stay in the lecture hall. I could see the material I learned in class take shape around me as I traveled through Europe. From passport checks at the German border due to immigration inflows to EU condemnation of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the course truly took on a life of its own.

 Now that I’m a senior back at Marshall, I have more flexibility with electives. During my internship at a broker-dealer in New York, I picked up a bit of coding and automation, and I was fascinated. These skills continued to be useful in my next internship, and I decided it’s something I want to pursue further. I’m currently developing my data analytics skillset by taking “Essentials and Digital Frontiers of Big Data” in Marshall’s Data Science and Operations department. We’ve focused on database systems and will shortly be moving on to Big Data infrastructure. Although I’m only halfway through the course at this point, I already feel more competent in discussing data-driven processes and more energized than ever to learn more! In addition to the ‘hard-skills’ learned, we’ve also heard from industry professionals, giving us an idea of how these skills can be applied. A friend of the professor from Facebook came and spoke about how he had worked on a project analyzing and projecting energy access in Africa and the ramifications it would have for internet use. I’ve found the class to be a great blend of instructional learning and real-world application.

 Overall, the courses I’ve taken throughout my WBB experience have provided a well-rounded and relevant curriculum. The WBB curriculum has put me in classes that I couldn’t have taken, or wouldn’t have thought to otherwise. I feel that my horizons and awareness of the world around me have grown immensely, and I’ve discovered new interests along the way.