Diary of a Dean Scholar: Ashridge & Red Bull Challenge

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Written by Marc Ahlers, Global Ambassador and Master Dual Degree student in the Hult Boston Campus Class of 2017.

Today is Saturday, March 24th 2017. Together with the Dean Scholars from the Boston campus, we’re embarking on a journey to the U.K. to attend the Hult Dean Scholar Summit. In a few hours, we will jump on a plane and head to an idyllic little town just outside of London where the beautiful Ashridge campus lies. Ahead of us are five days with Dean Scholars from Dubai, London, and San Francisco where we will experience an unparalleled executive education. Come with us on this memorable journey…

Day 1: Arriving at Ashridge
After a smooth flight, we touched down in London and instantly became: Team Boston. Luckily, the only layover we faced was a 20-minute wait for our bus that turned into all of us getting our first sunburn after a three-month exposure to frost, ice, snowstorms, and tornadoes in Boston. After an hour-long drive on the opposite side of the road—the left side—Team Boston arrived at Ashridge, where we were greeted with a warm smile, beautiful weather, and a glass of champagne.

“Ashridge is known for serving as a home for royals for centuries…and now, Hult’s Global Dean Scholars.”

We arrived at our accommodation, which looked like a castle, checked in, and immediately hit the ground running. Sleeping is for the weak, right? We took a running tour of Ashridge’s amazing location in the middle of “nowhere”. Ashridge is known for serving as a home for royals, including kings, queens, princes, and princesses, as well as the rich and famous for centuries. Now, Hult’s Global Dean Scholars are fortunate enough to experience Ashridge’s beauty and history as a center of knowledge.

Dean Scholars arrive at Hult’s Ashridge Campus.

Ashridge is a breathtaking historic country estate that once housed King Henry VIII

 

After our first run as Hultians in England, we discovered tennis courts and the health center. We exhausted ourselves with running, tennis, swimming, and weight lifting. Finally, dinner was announced. Our final sprint was a run to the buffet, where we started loading our plates with delicacies. The food at Ashridge was to become a defining feature of our stay – truly amazing!

Enjoying an early morning run with my fellow Dean Scholars

Always time for a selfie!

Day 2: The Red Bull Challenge
Bright and early, we were pleasantly surprised with one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever seen. Loaded with food babies, we kicked off the day by learning about Red Bull and getting a challenge directly from their headquarters in Austria. Red Bull have mastered the art of storytelling by building a following of people who love what the brand stands for, but this love for the brand does not translate into love for the Red Bull can. Put simply, there are more people who “love” the product than those who actually drink the wing-giving energy source. To tackle this issue, the Dean Scholars were grouped into teams of five to develop a new Red Bull narrative that includes the product itself by emphasizing its relevance in day-to-day life.

On your marks, ready, set, GO! And we were off. Time was limited. Teams started to brainstorm, analyze, discuss, argue, come back together, and ultimately managed to formulate a very compelling story around the Red Bull can. Once we finished the presentations, the recordings of each team were sent to Red Bull’s headquarters in Austria for evaluation with the winner due to be announced on the last day of the summit. After a long and tiring day, we spent a couple of hours frolicking through Ashridge’s gardens and exploring the inner majesty of the castle. After the campus tour, we feasted on our five-star salmon, steak, and desserts.

Red Bull set the branding challenge from their headquarters in Austria

We’ll take all the help we can get!

“Once we finished the presentations, the recordings of each team were sent to Red Bull’s headquarters in Austria for evaluation.”

Day 3: The importance of storytelling
Before entering Ashridge’s magical learning experience the next day, Team Boston got up early and had a run followed by a very relaxing and spectacular yoga session led by Manuela Erlacher, our very own yoga teacher. We started our day in the classroom by asking what storytelling really is and why it matters so much in today’s society. I believe storytelling is one of the biggest keys to success in your personal and professional success. So it is of utmost importance that we learn and practice it. The day was filled with mental exercises that guided us to discover our true selves. And more time to explore secret spots of Ashridge gave our minds the opportunity to reflect on our thoughts.

I learnt many lessons that day, the most important being: Define your purpose in life and use it as a pathway to reach happiness. As business students on a mission to make a change, we will face various challenges in the future. Our purpose will serve as our anchor to guide us when the obstacle ahead seems gigantic.

The tranquil grounds at Ashridge provide the perfect environment to reflect on our learning

Day 4: Organizational and individual resilience
On day four, we were enlightened by the concept of resilience. Resilience is crucial; it is much needed in today’s society as issues arise every day. As Rocky Balboa said: “It is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward”. It was a very interesting and challenging day spent in a global classroom full of ambitious, diverse, and intelligent young leaders. We learned to be mentally flexible and adjust our thinking as environmental circumstances change.

Day 4 and the hectic schedule was catching up with us!

As Rocky Balboa said: “It is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.”

The end of our trip was near and our last dinner together was ahead of us. Armed with a glass of wine and a variety of entertainment- Dean Scholar Henrik’s fantastic piano session- the night began. The Red Bull winners were announced and rewarded with prizes.

The food at Ashridge was truly amazing – they use locally sourced ingredients where possible too

Day 5: Sleep-in and one last lunch
The different campus teams left Ashridge and headed back to start Module C with new inspiration and a sense of global unity. Team Boston was the last one to leave. We got to sleep-in and managed to get one last fantastic lunch. As we somehow managed to carry our stuffed bellies to the bus, everyone entered a slightly sad mood as this bus ride meant the end of our English journey. It was time to say goodbye and carry the Hult spirit around the world back to our origins in Boston, San Francisco, New York, London, Dubai, and Shanghai.

What an inspiring and incredible week with this fantastic bunch of Hultians

Thanks for an unforgettable experience!

Long story short:

  1. All of Ashridge’s food is amazing
  2. Scheduled buffet meals are your best friend
  3. Team Boston’s mission of “Passion. Purpose. Persistence.” resonated with the other teams
  4. Ashridge is more beautiful than I ever imagined
  5. Embrace change – drive change before problems actually arise
  6. Hult’s community is probably the most diverse out there
  7. Discover your purpose and live by it
  8. When you put a group of global Hultians in a classroom, they immediately connect on a personal level
  9. Success is not handed to you, work for it
  10. Never stop learning and seek out advice from people you know well – they will point out blind spots in your thinking and help you grow
  11. Sleeping is for when you are dead
  12. Can we please go again?

Many thanks to Dean Agnes from London and Dean Emmett from Boston as well as all of the other deans and professors that made this trip come true.


Marc Ahlers is a Dual Masters degree student in Finance and International Business at the Hult Boston campus. His experience in working with KPMG in Germany has motivated him to pursue a career in management consulting. He was an international collegiate student-athlete at Northwest Missouri State University, where he won conferences and regionals. Apart from professional tennis, Marc is also passionate about traveling.

 

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