What makes an Executive MBA in Stockholm so unique?

Although Stockholm School of Economics student Tomasz Wasik had already studied at two Scandinavian universities, he was still surprised by the unique nature of the school’s EMBA program. We spoke to him to learn more.

In short

Why Tomasz studied an EMBA in Stockholm

In Scandinavia, they tend to do things differently.

This long, narrow peninsula at the tip of Northern Europe takes a different approach to many things – one of them being education. And Tomasz Wasik knows all about that.

Originally from Poland, Tomasz would go on to study at two different Swedish universities, growing accustomed to the unique Scandinavian learning model in the process. When it came to finding a business school to give him the skills to take his consulting business to the next level, Scandinavia came calling once again.

As it turns out, he would find the place he was looking for at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE). He saw it as the school where he could build on the skills he had already learned in his previous time studying in Scandinavia – and he had one reason in particular for choosing this program.

“I did the Executive MBA in Stockholm to get a new toolkit of skills and network that I could use to grow my business. I also wanted to learn to become a better leader – that was probably the main rationale behind joining the SSE EMBA,” he says. (00:30)

The unique learning model in Scandinavia

Scandinavia is famed for its unique approach to teaching and learning – in particular, their approach to problem-solving. From a very young age, Scandinavians are encouraged to take on more responsibility and tackle projects on their own. It’s a principle embedded within Scandinavian society – and one that runs all the way through to the Executive MBA at SSE.

“The biggest benefit of doing an EMBA in Scandinavia is the independence,” explains Tomasz. “When you’re given a task to do, you’re trusted to do it on your own. This idea of taking responsibility is something that’s rooted very deeply within the Scandinavian education system. You take responsibility for completing your tasks and everybody knows it.” (03:21)

Having already studied in Scandinavia for a number of years, Tomasz was somewhat prepared for this hands-on style of learning. But, as it turned out, the practical nature of the Stockholm program confounded even his expectations.

“What was good about this EMBA was that it turned out to be even more practical than I expected,” Tomasz reveals. “It was a great opportunity to do a lot of projects – even on my own company – so in this sense, I was constantly learning during the program. I was able to do four or five projects on my own company, which was really helpful and really useful.” (02:04)

What is the ChangeLive module?

An example of this practical, DIY approach to learning is in SSE’s ChangeLive module. It is a project that runs throughout the EMBA, with students tasked with instigating long-term change within an organization. Students must then report back on the project after its completion, giving a presentation to the rest of the cohort.

“It’s a very practical, project-based module where you team up with one or two other people and define the ChangeLive project,” says Tomasz. “That means you’re supposed to implement concrete change in a concrete organization. It could be, for example, changing the method of marketing in a given organization. Or introducing a work-from-home policy into a company.” (16:06)

For Tomasz, this module opened his eyes to the intricacies of organizational change. No matter how small or insignificant the change may seem to you, if there is pushback from anywhere within the organization then it becomes a greater challenge to implement.

“Before this module, I didn’t have the understanding that even if you want to implement small changes within an organization, it can still be problematic for some people within the team. I learned that you have to plan it properly, analyze it and follow up on it. This module gave me that understanding,” he says. (18:54)

Diversity and leadership in the SSE EMBA

The SSE EMBA is a diverse program, not just in terms of nationality but also in terms of work experience. The opportunity to work with people from a range of different industries gave Tomasz some unexpected new perspectives on work. 

“You really get completely different perspectives on how to do things. In my group, there was a doctor [who had] not much experience in business, but during projects, he gave a really interesting external perspective on things. It was really eye-opening,” Tomasz says. (10:26)

As a business leader himself, one of the most valuable takeaways from the program was its focus on developing leadership skills. Tomasz says that thanks to the program, he discovered what lies at the root of good leadership. It would be his biggest takeaway from a program that very much stands apart.

“As a business leader you must learn much faster about which type of people you don’t want to work with than which type of people you do want to work with,” he explains. “A lot of elements in the program like managing change and leadership can help you understand that idea in a better way and understand yourself in a better way.” (08:48)

 

If you’d like to hear more from students who have lived the SSE experience, reach out to them via the MBAGRADSCHOOLS Ambassadors Page.

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