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Leadership Lessons From MBA Camp In Sweden's Wilderness

Full-time Copenhagen Business School MBA student sheds light on secretive leadership discovery process in Sweden.

Leadership is a focus of The Copenhagen MBA so it should come as no surprise that students are sent to Sweden for a leadership development camp each year.

The secretive trip to Scandinavia is challenging, pushing MBAs to their limits. But the experience is essential to help students hone their unique leadership styles and bond together as a group.

The trip is a key element of Copenhagen Business School’s Leadership Discovery Process (LDP), designed to heighten awareness of MBA candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, communication preferences and values. The year-long course includes peer-to-peer coaching sessions, executive mentoring, immersive learning experiences and a series of individual reflection papers.

Gabriel Bachmann, a full-time MBA student, explains in this interview what the LDP is like.

Before beginning The Copenhagen MBA, he worked as a marketing manager for Diageo, the world’s biggest distiller which produces Smirnoff vodka. Prior to that, he worked for consumer goods groups BRF, Colgate Palmolive and Kraft Foods, now Kraft Heinz Company.

What can you tell us about the secretive Sweden capstone? What activities were there? What’s your highlight?

Our class was informed that we would travel to Sweden in April, where we would have the opportunity to apply all the learnings from the LDP platform.

Our first reaction was to ask for more details, but we were informed that they could not be provided, as secrecy was also part of the experience. We broached the topic with a mix of excitement, anxiety and preparation.

The experience was way above any expectations that I had, and it was an important milestone in my life. I had the opportunity to develop myself as a leader, as a team member and, most importantly, to increase my self-awareness and knowledge, by truly challenging myself.

These challenges were not easy at all. I was out of my comfort zone and close to my limit several times during the experience, which definitely presented me with some of my biggest fears.

The class was essential for the success of the experience, as group feedback was a key part of the processes. It helped me discover my personal leadership style and to understand that it is a process of continuous discovery, which will likely be ongoing for the rest of my professional life.

Why did you decide to begin The Copenhagen MBA?

I am passionate about exploring different cultures. Building a global career has always been in my plan. An MBA abroad is a key part of this plan.

I believe that this experience is essential for creating a strong global network, to develop my leadership skills, and to challenge my business views with different perspectives from all around the world.

I choose The Copenhagen MBA because it has a strong focus on leadership, sustainability and entrepreneurship. It is also one of the most recognized business schools in Europe.

To live in Copenhagen was another driver. It’s a very lively city, with a culture that embodies values that I believe and defend, such as social equality. My family — my wife Helena and baby daughter Martina — and I are truly enjoying our Danish lives.

Why is leadership an important skill to you?

The predominant leadership model in the business community focuses too much on short-term achievements and in pleasing mainly shareholders. It increases social inequality in society.

I also believe that leaders in corporations have a key role to play in changing society, due to their influence and reach.

Therefore, developing my leadership skills in the right way will be essential to fulfil my ambition to become a high-performance corporate leader, who can also be a change agent in society.

Leadership can be unique. Has the course appealed to and honed your unique style of leadership?

The main leadership platform of The Copenhagen MBA is the LDP. The objective is to let me develop a deeper understanding of myself; uncover and unfold my human potentials; and enhance my ability to work in teams and create my own leadership model.

In the first part of each module we are in groups and discuss topics with the whole class.

The second part of each module is an individual reflection about the unit, in which we receive individual feedback from a leadership specialist. This individual part is key for me to work on the specificities of my leadership style. But the group part is also important, to learn from the different leadership styles of my colleagues and to challenge my leadership views.

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