Cranfield School of Management - Astronomy Club
Kim Nilsson - Astrophysicist and Cranfield MBA 2012
In between the MBAT and a club excursion (which she organised), BusinessBecause was lucky enough to catch up with Kim Nilsson, the president of the one of the most unusual MBA clubs we’ve interviewed so far…the Cranfield MBA Astronomy Club.
Firstly…how did you do at the MBAT?
“I competed in Badminton (made it to quarterfinals) and Tug-of-War (Cranfield came third). It was great fun, meeting all the other MBAs, seeing the HEC campus and feeling the atmosphere of friendly competition. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”
What is the name of your club? What does it do?
“We don’t really have an official name, but I guess it would be Cranfield MBA Astronomy Club. We are a group of people interested in astronomy. The main purpose of the club was to organise and go on an astronomy trip which we are going on this coming Thursday. The trip will be to the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT, www.not.iac.es) on La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. We have been granted half a night of observations at this telescope this weekend, and will be allowed to use the telescope to observe whatever we want. In preparation for this the club has also met up several times to discuss general astronomy, and also what needs to be prepared before going on a visit to an observatory.”
How many members do you have?
“About 17 members out of a cohort of about 80. Five students plus partners will come on the trip.”
Why and who would join the club?
“Anyone who is interested in astronomy. This is purely a hobby club as it is not relevant for our careers. A lot of people have a general interest in astronomy and the night sky so it has been nice to get together and talk about it and answer any questions they had.”
What is the biggest perk of running the club?
“For me, I very much enjoyed being able to give something back to the cohort. Other fellow students have been able to give back by organising seminars, contacts or company visits etc. but given my background I couldn’t really contribute this way. Running the astronomy club has given me that opportunity to offer insights into a topic I know a lot about. And seeing their fascination for the topic is a real motivation boost!”
What is or has been the biggest challenge for your club so far?
“I would say time. Our curriculum is incredibly busy and finding the time to meet (and for me to prepare for the meetings) has been very difficult. The interest is there, and material to cover is abundant, but time is scarce.”
A bit about your personal background: what were you doing pre-MBA?
“Well, I was an astronomer. I got a PhD in astrophysics from Copenhagen University in 2007 and worked as a researcher since then in Heidelberg and Munich in Germany. I wanted a career change into business though and decided for an MBA as the best way to learn and develop myself.”
What's the most interesting trend in the world of astro-physics?
"Well, for example, in observational astronomy that I did there are a lot of competing new projects coming up for amazing new telescopes. The organisation that I last worked for (ESO,www.eso.org) is finalising plans to build the by-far largest telescope in the world, the “Extremely Large Telescope” or ELT (http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/e-elt.html) which will be more than 30 meters wide (to compare with today’s largest telescope which is about 10 meters wide). That is an incredible engineering accomplishment, and would revolutionise how we observe the Universe in the next ten to twenty years. And, to add something towards business, this project would almost certainly push technological boundaries, which may spur innovation in the areas of optics and electronics."
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the global b-school community?
"I have really enjoyed my time as a Cranfield MBA student. I wondered before starting how I would be able to fit in and prosper in this environment because my background is so different. But the Cranfield students and faculty have been very friendly, helpful and open-minded and I quickly acclimatised to the programme. I chose Cranfield because of its focus on personal development and the friendly experience I had during my interview, and I have never regretted it."
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