Students from the degree programmes of Mechanical and Production Engineering and International Business together with their teachers Lotta Saarikoski and Satu Lautamäki travelled to Mannheim, Germany on April 2nd, 2017. The aim was to co-operate in an international team and integrate the competences of students from the fields of international business and engineering.
The workshop was planned and implemented as cooperation between VAMK and University of Applied Management Studies Mannheim, as one of VAMK´s Erasmus-partners. On the first morning, the hosts, vice president, professor Dolores Sanchez-Bengoa and professor Hans-Rüdiger Kaufmann introduced participants to the program and explained the team task for the students.
An International and Cross-Functional Workshop took place at the premises of University of Applied Management Studies Mannheim (HdWM). The students worked in cross-disciplinary teams for one week.
The Fruitful Visit
After the introduction and a cross-cultural team activity, the students and teachers visited the case company Hänssler Kunststoff- und Dichtungstechnik GmbH. The CEO and the founder of the company Mr Andreas Hänssler and his design engineer Mr Dirk Olbert welcomed guests and introduced them to the company. The company produces seals and plastic parts for various industries, for instance Formula 1 manufacturers are their customers. Hänssler also has a strong interest in 3D Printing, which can become a growing business in the future.
- The discussion with the company was very fruitful and new ideas were shared between our students and the company, says Lotta Saarikoski.
After returning from the company visit, the students organized an international dinner, where everyone brought small snacks representing their own culture.
The CEO of the case company Mr A.Hänssler tells about his business.
Students found the visit to the case company very useful. The teachers Satu Lautamäki and Lotta Saarikoski were impressed by the innovativeness of Hänssler Kunststoff und Dichtungstechnik.
Hard Work Pays Off
The workshop continued on Tuesday, and during the following week the participants shared and discussed ideas on cross-cultural communication, innovative thinking, consumer and brand perspectives and logistics. On Wednesday evening, they also visited Eichbaum Brauerei where they heard about the brewery’s history, production and export activities and enjoyed a taste of their beer and German bratwurst with potato salad.
The students were working in teams, with one engineering student from VAMK and two or three business students from VAMK and HdWM Mannheim in each team. The teams searched for possible business partners from Finland with whom Hänssler could build a strategic alliance, and planned how to innovate and export their products to a foreign country.
- The purpose was to define potential customer segments, analyze the business environment in the target country and make a preliminary entry strategy to this country, tells Satu Lautamäki.
All teams presented their results on Friday. Mr Hänssler was able to join as honored guest to listen to some of the presentations. He commented that the students had got a very clear picture of his company in just a few days and he was giving very supportive comments for the presentations.
- We can be proud of our students working intensively for five days and making their project presentations in the end of the week, as the task was very challenging, comments Satu Lautamäki.
Students seemed to appreciate the workshop as they gave positive feedback, and they felt that especially the skills in teamwork and cross-cultural communication had developed further during the week.
- We can only recommend it as an experience. Cooperation with international partners was very fruitful and we are also very thankful for VAMK and the foundations for the travel scholarships for the students, says Lotta Saarikoski.
Happy faces after the presentations and the graduation ceremony on Friday in HdWM Aula.
Text: Lotta Saarikoski and Satu Lautamäki
Photos: Lotta Saarikoski