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    Two Block Seminars, two locations, one organization

    Summary of the ‘Multi-Sided Platforms and Innovations in a Modern Era’ Block seminar

    Aalto University School of Business (later on ‘Aalto’)and Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg University(later on ‘GSOM’) are the first and only schools in the history of CEMS to organize block seminars together. This year’s was the fifth time they offered students the ‘Corporate Responsibility in Managerial Practices’ and ‘Multi-Sided Platforms and Innovations in a Modern Era’ block seminars. Approximately 60 students from 19 countries participated in the seminars and had the chance to get to know each other until the end of the week. The professors and the CEMS Club Helsinki and St. Petersburg did a great job to make everything go smoothly and provided us with a great first experience of the CEMS community.

    Preparations and opening ceremony

    Already three months before the official beginning of the CEMS year for the cemsies of Aalto and GSOM, the organizing committee of the block seminars created a group on a social website making sure that everyone received all the information needed to book flights/trains/etc. and get ready for the event in time. In July every participant of the Multi-Sided Platforms and Innovations in a Modern Era (later on MSP) received the study material of the seminar along with the description of the pre-assignment and pre-readings, leaving us enough time to prepare.

    Everything started in Helsinki, Finland on the 31st of August. It was an unexpectedly sunny and warm day, perfect time to have a brunch with cemsies at a nice café in the heart of the city. It was a well-organized informal event for us to get to know each other. After the brunch we went to our nice hotel where all the foreign students were accommodated and got ready for the opening ceremony. In the evening, the CEMS academic directors at Aalto and GSOM, Rita Järventie-Thesleff and Yury E. Blagov welcomed us and opened the academic year with a common speech in the main building of Aalto University School of Business, which was followed by a nice dinner.

    The block seminar

    On Monday, the block seminar started at Aalto. Throughout the week we had lectures held by the professors in charge of MSP, Sergey Yablonsky from GSOM and Esko Penttinen from Aalto, and guest speakers from different IT fields that they were specialized in. Until Friday, we had to submit assignments and presentations in two different cases, one based on a Finnish IT services company, Tieto, and the other based on a new start-up that we students came up with. We visited two companies, Tieto in Helsinki and Yandex (also known as ‘Russian Google’) in St. Petersburg, where we could ask questions connected to our tasks, which helped us in our tasks.

    Even though the workload was high and it was a real challenge to submit everything on time because of the density of the programs, the final presentations were high of quality and the professors (and we) were satisfied with our work.

    Social events

    In both cities the programme managers organized the official events. In Helsinki, beside the opening ceremony, we had a farewell dinner on Tuesday in a traditional Finnish restaurant on a small island, and in St. Petersburg we had a welcome dinner in a Russian restaurant on Wednesday and a boat cruise with dinner on the Neva with beautiful view on the city.

    The CEMS clubs organized the informal events for us. In Helsinki, beside the brunch, we had a ‘Tuesday Night Party’ at the building of student organizations of Aalto. In St. Petersburg, the informal events remained for the weekend due to the lack of time. Friday evening, we went to a local bar to have a nice dinner and few drinks after the long week and on Saturday we had a day-long guided tour in the city and in the evening a farewell party for the cemsies who were going back to Aalto.

    The block seminar was a great start to my CEMS year, the events were very well-organized and I had the pleasure to meet a lot of smart and kind people, with whom working together was fun and spending the free time together was even more amazing. I can only recommend this block seminar to everyone who has the chance to participate in it later on and would like to work and have fun at the same time.

     Story and photos: Dóra Kacskovics