From New Haven to Sarajevo - What have we learned from our guests from Yale?
During the month of March Symphony was a proud host of more than 30 MBA students from Yale School of Management. Yale students were our guests for three days during which we got an opportunity to spend some quality time and bond over multiple activities we did together. But, before we start talking about our time spent together, it’s only fair to say a couple of words about Yale University. Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 in Saybrook Colony to train Congregationalist ministers (Congregationalists believe their model of church governance fulfills the description of the early church and allows people the most direct relationship with God), it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, the school introduced graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first Ph.D. in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887.
At Yale School of Management students are being prepared to lead in a world of increasing connectedness, but also increasing complexity. The main objective is that the students may be doing business in many countries, and therefore they need to understand the business, legal, political, social, and cultural environments of each.
One of those courses at Yale School of Management is The International Experience course, which serves as a case study in learning about the complexities of a business environment from a leader's point of view. The course begins with a half semester of classroom study and culminates with a 10-day trip to one or more business capitals, during which students visit companies and meet political leaders. The course gives them an enhanced ability to think globally that will be valuable for the rest of their time at Yale and beyond. More than 30 students chose Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Dubrovnik as this year’s business capitals they are going to visit and learn more about.
Last year, we had a similar experience with Stanford University students where we also had an opportunity to host them in Sarajevo. We have already been recognized as a great partner to university’s international courses, but excitement remains the same each time we have a similar chance. Students from Yale School of Management had the first stop in Belgrade, then Dubrovnik and at the end - Sarajevo. Our guests were coming back from Dubrovnik (Croatia) on Monday, so our first official meeting occurred in Konjic. We arranged a group visit to Tito’s bunker, a secret bunker that was supposed to safeguard former Yugoslavia’s ruling class in case of a nuclear attack. Located 270 m underground, near Konjic, the 26-year project was only completed in 1979, the year before Tito died, and it was built at a cost equivalent to just under $4.6 billion. Our guests were a bit late due to traffic jams in Herzegovina, so the first meeting occurred at 6 PM just outside of the bunker. Our first encounter was filled with mixed emotions, we were happy to finally meet each other, but sad at the same time because we missed our arranged visit of the bunker. Fortunately, we were able to organize a new visit the following day, and our expectations were shattered by the whole experience. Only a part of the whole group was able to visit again Konjic and Tito’s bunker, but the overall fascination remained the same.
In the afternoon hours on Tuesday, we have welcomed Yale students in our Sarajevo office. Our two amazing chefs prepared delicious snacks for us to enjoy while we were using the opportunity to meet each other a lot better. Our Human Resources Manager, Emina Adilagic held a short speech on Symphony’s future path and culture. A good thing is that our guests had multiple questions and were mostly interested in our culture and how exactly are we going towards our vision to build the workforce of the future, where borders, geography, and citizenship don't stop the best engineers globally from delivering world class work that matters. As the sun was setting over Sarajevo we enjoyed chatting with each other in small groups on our open terrace.
Later that evening, we met again in 4 Rooms of Mrs. Safija to enjoy great French cuisine, as it was a week of French cuisine in many local restaurants. We spontaneously mixed over three tables and enjoyed long and fun conversations until late in the night.
Wednesday was reserved for an informal screening of Death in Sarajevo, one of the latest films from Oscar-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic. Death in Sarajevo, a 2016 drama film orchestrates a scenario in which human nature unravels itself as time and history look on with curious expectation. The screening left us all puzzled and amazed at the same time, the story was very intriguing leaving us with dozen question marks over our heads.
Danis Tanovic walked in the cinema hall capturing everybody’s attention. He was patient enough to answer on all of our questions, and also to explain his work process in details. Danis wasn’t shy to discuss ongoing political and economical situation in the world with us, and he really gave us all a new perspective, a perspective of an artist.
At the end, bit question still remains the same: what did we learn from our Yale School of Management guests? Imagine being in a place where over fifty people who are completely different gather for the first time - what would be your first reaction? Curiosity, amazement or even some kind of a subconscious fear? Well, we were there and we had those feelings. We were curious because it’s the first time you’re meeting those people, they all have different backgrounds, and most of them weren’t born in the United States of America. We were amazed because they were just as curious as we were. At last, that small amount of subconscious fear was there. Why? We’ve build up some expectations, we have prepared ourselves for something - that something was knowledge and experience sharing, and of course we were subconsciously thinking whether ours or event their expectations will be met. It took us around ten seconds to completely shake that fear off. What came afterward? The fun part. While talking with our guest we constantly had a feeling like we completely understand each other, but at the same time, the fact remains that we are living on two different continents. Just recently, we were able to give some meaning to this feeling - the same feeling will happen every time you’re exchanging opinions, which are actually giving you and the person standing across you a new perspective on the given subject. Later comes the moment when you start discussing even more mature subjects, such as the socio-political situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina while drawing similarities between the USA and B&H at the same time.
These really remarkable individuals all have different backgrounds, so every time you have an opportunity to talk a bit more with someone - you are learning. One of the guests is a former US Navy member, one has travelled 50 countries, they are/were avid dancers or musicians, one has worked with the Gates Foundation to improve food security in India, another one has worked as a medical officer for the Ghana Army, one has co-founded a jewelry company, and so on. Being able to share opinions with these experienced and versatile individuals really brought a new perspective to all of us. Their hard work, positive and vibrant energy, willingness to learn more and teach more were mind-blowing. These experiences change you for better and inspire you to work even harder on your dreams, future, and vision.
A special thanks goes to Yale University, Ivana Katic, Sara Vracar, Krishan Rele and all other students who were our guests that week. We honestly hope we had met (or even exceeded) your expectations. See you soon our new friends!