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From Lausanne to San Francisco, Swiss student David Dudok de Wit is helping form bonds between innovative business schools in the Bay Area and back home.
Dudok de Wit is doing a six-month junior project management internship at swissnex San Francisco through August 2011. During his stay, he’s also the acting external affairs ambassador for the University of Lausanne’s business school, Faculté des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) Lausanne, working on academic partnerships and collaborations with schools in the region. In all his spare time, he’s writing his master’s thesis on knowledge management at swissnex San Francisco.
Dudok de Wit earned a bachelor’s degree in IT management from the School of Business and Engineering Vaud (HEIG-VD) before enrolling at HEC Lausanne. He heard about the six-month internship opportunity at swissnex San Francisco through his professor, Maia Wentland, the vice dean of external relations for the business school. Wentland set up the exchange at swissnex locations around the world in celebration of HEC’s 100th birthday and in the spirit of international outreach. While Dudok de Wit is in San Francisco, his classmate Thomas Boillat is carrying out a similar project at swissnex Boston.
Getting things done
During his internship, Dudok de Wit is establishing first steps toward academic partnerships, joint research programs, executive MBAs, and student exchanges that could be mutually beneficial for HEC Lausanne and Bay Area business schools. “I’m focusing on institutions that share the same interests as HEC Lausanne in responsible management, which is the theme of HEC Lausanne’s 100th anniversary,” he says.
In July, Wentland traveled to San Francisco to attend meetings arranged by her student with leaders from several of those like-minded institutions, including the Presidio Graduate School (MBA in Sustainable Management), Stanford Graduate School of Business, California College of the Arts (MBA in Design Strategy), San Francisco State’s Sustainable Business MBA, and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
“Thanks to Vanessa [Drigo] and previous university representatives who’ve been [to swissnex San Francisco], I already have material I can use as a basis for my work,” Dudok de Wit says, explaining how the swissnex network of contacts and expertise makes university outposts feasible. “More important is the great quality of the network of contacts swissnex has at academic institutions. You don’t have to do a cold call; there’s previous contact. Most of the time they’re quality contacts who’ve had a good experience with swissnex in the past. They’re much more open to talking and are very responsive when I get in touch with them.”
No stranger to swissnex
swissnex wasn’t a foreign concept to Dudok de Wit when he heard about the internship. In 2009, he took part in a one-month summer university program in international business, entrepreneurship, and leadership, which swissnex San Francisco facilitated and helped launch, between the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland and Humboldt State University in Northern California.
“The summer school was both a great personal and professional experience,” he says.
Now in the midst of his internship at swissnex, he’s been instrumental in a number of projects that will benefit the organization long into the future. For data in sight: making the transparent visual, he applied his knowledge of data mining to help prepare data sets for use in the competition. He’s the lead event coordinator of a workshop with KNIME, an open source data analytics and integration platform. And he helped prepare a social media database to assist in reporting social media presence of Swiss universities for Swiss Academia and the Social Media Landscape. His thesis project, too, looking at how events and IT projects are organized and managed at swissnex San Francisco and how IT tools could help, will provide valuable insight.
When asked what he thinks about San Francisco as a city, he has this to say: “I love all the events where people get dressed up, like Bay to Breakers,” he says. “Every day, every weekend, there’s something to do that’s really original. I find that fantastic.”
A tip for future interns? “On Tuesday nights, there are $2 beers and sliders at the Ambassador close to Union Square, where all the European consulate and chambers of commerce interns hang out.”