Thomas Lammel, CEU Executive MBA Senior Program Manager: You have studied and worked at some of the most iconic educational institutions in the world, including Harvard and Princeton. How do you compare the intellectual environment at CEU with those institutions?
Prof. Miklos Koren: What I really enjoyed at these schools is intellectual curiosity. Everything and everyone is about knowledge and learning. That is also what we strive for at CEU. It feels great to keep discussing research with colleagues over coffee after a student presentation. We have very active seminars where researchers from all over the world come to share and discuss their ideas.
CEU is an American university. It is expected from all students, and especially our executive participants, to challenge their professors and share their ideas.
TL: Your studies and models of international trade are published in the leading academic journals in the world, including most recently the Quarterly Journal of Economics and American Economic Review. What is the process of developing a new idea that later changes the conventional wisdom in your discipline?
MK: There is a part of the creative process that I enjoy a lot but is hard to codify. Coming up with a new idea, connecting the dots between different pieces of knowledge; initially things are very vague and nothing makes sense. But I’ve learned to appreciate and embrace this state of mind and not look for clarity right away. I know that clarity will emerge, but only after hours, days, or weeks of hard work. I also believe that constraints are very useful for creative work by drastically simplifying your problem. As my architect friend says, he would never be able to “design a house,” but he can design a “single-story house on a 1,000 sqm L-shaped plot gently sloping towards the street.” Ironically, once we limit our options, we can often go farther.
TL: You combine your world-class academic credentials with being deeply involved in the practical world. You work with leading companies on the MSc in Business Analytics that you co-founded. How did your passion for data analytics and AI develop?
MK: I have always loved coding. My first useful piece of program took a high-school assignment where I would have had to copy and paste parts of a document a hundred times, and automated it. I started applying these skills to data analysis during my college years, working with amazing professors and mentors. I kept learning new tools and methods and wanted to share this knowledge with others.
TL: Many of our registered participants are already sharing on social media how excited they are about your talk on “Expatriate Managers in International Trade”. Can you give us a short sneak peak of what you will discuss on Monday, 22 March?
MK: The business world is very globalized. Firms engage in international trade, they make foreign direct investments, and managers often move across countries to help build and run businesses. We think that these aspects of globalization are related: managers with a global experience can help their business enter new markets. In our new research, we bring new data and statistical analysis to confirm this.
TL: The world is experiencing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What piece of advice would you give to people who are considering applying for the CEU Executive MBA given the unprecedented uncertainty?
MK: The pandemic has taught us that we have to prepare for the unexpected. This sounds like an impossible task, but there are ways to make our organization, whether a business or a university, more resilient.
These frameworks give you a systematic approach to competitive analysis, data-driven forecasting, financial planning, and many more.
TL: Israel and the United Arab Emirates are the most innovative and thriving economies in the region, also leading into a new era of political stability. How would professionals from this region benefit from CEU Executive MBA?
MK: Besides our world-renowned faculty, a tailored curriculum for experienced managers, a program that fits their life, a global elite alumni network of more than 18,000 professionals and a US & EU-accredited degree? Being an international leader requires flexibility and a full tool box of resources – the CEU Executive MBA Leadership Program will contribute to their leadership transformation!
TL: Thank you so much for answering our questions, we cannot wait to hear your presentation next Monday!