“Digital Business Master Class was a wonderful supplement to my MBA”
Cordelia Blanchard is finishing her final year of MBA studies at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. After graduation, she is transitioning into a role on Toyota's Product Planning & Strategy team. Cordelia loves spending time outdoors with her dog and exploring new places in her free time.
Why did you decide to take the Digital Business Master Class?
I was thrilled when I learned of DBMC because I felt it would set me up for success in my career post-graduation. Since I will be working in the auto industry, which is very tech-focused, I wanted to be more knowledgeable about how digitisation has impacted business strategy and development in the contemporary market. I also had previously visited Helsinki, but for only 24 hours, so I wanted to have the chance to explore the city and learn about Finnish culture.
Has the course helped you with new insights for your studies or your career?
I especially loved our lecture on the Ethics of AI. The course helped me think more critically and thoughtfully about digital strategies from a big-picture perspective. It helped us create frameworks for thinking about using big data in productive, effective ways while staying aware of the potential ethical quandaries we might face as arbiters of big data.
Why do you think this course is important for students/professionals entering today’s digital business landscape?
The consulting project aspect of this course helped me enhance my skills in creating actionable recommendations, working with a diverse team, and presenting to key stakeholders. These client-facing and teamwork skills are essential in today’s landscape. Additionally, the lectures and readings helped me frame my critical thinking about digital issues to be more cognizant of how people interact in a digital world and how that impacts business.
What was the best part of the course?
The people. Our class was truly global, which meant that we all had unique perspectives and challenges as we worked together both in lectures and on our consulting projects. Working with a global team allowed us to develop stronger recommendations and learn about managing relationships with those who have had very different lived experiences. Additionally, the program coordinators, professors, and everyone from Aalto were incredibly warm and engaging. It was wonderful to get to meet so many different people, both students and faculty, who are so deeply passionate about their work and education.
A key part of the DBMC is to work on a real-life digital business challenge for a partnering company alongside the lectures. How did you experience your project?
I worked with a platform to digitise art exhibits and tours. Due to the pandemic, they struggled to identify profitable business models and were looking for our recommendations to monetise and market their services. My team worked collaboratively to develop our recommendations.
It was a fantastic project! My key takeaways from the project were that platform monetisation is hard but not impossible, and that one has to be both quick and creative in an ever-evolving digital landscape. We also learned about monetization methods and approaches, which will be especially helpful in my future career.
Can you give three tips for aspiring students thinking about applying for the course?
- Make sure you are ready to commit the time and energy needed to your consulting project. These are real clients with real problems, which grants you an incredible opportunity to drive change in a business. But that also comes with a responsibility to show up professionally and intellectually to develop solid, actionable recommendations.
- The two weeks will fly by, so make sure you keep some unstructured time to just explore Helsinki. It may be a small city, but it offers a wealth of people, places, and things to explore.
- Do your research on where you want to stay in Helsinki. Espoo is closer to the city center than it seems, and there are so many great neighborhoods in Helsinki that are less touristy than Kamppi. I stayed in Kallio, which I absolutely loved, because it gave me a different vantage point through which to explore the city.
What was your first impression of Finland and Aalto University?
Finland is a truly incredible country with amazing people. Finnish culture is more reserved than many, but everyone was overwhelmingly kind and deeply cared about each other’s wellbeing.
Finland is an easy country to live in and explore – from accessible public transit to helpful people (who speak phenomenal English) – I never felt out of place or unsafe. Aalto University has a contemporary campus with a wealth of resources – from cafeterias, grocery stores, and cafes to easy access to walks in the woods and views of the sea.
For whom would you recommend the course?
Any student interested in digital business! This course was a wonderful supplement to my MBA. Helsinki may not be at the top of your bucket list, but it should be! Plus, there’s no better way to get to know a city and a culture than living and studying there. I would recommend this course to any student who is interested in both working with a diverse, global team and learning more about how digital technology continues to shape the world of business.