Journey Through Warsaw: Unearthing Cultural Gems, Delights, and Business Innovations

The first field trip of the Master Class CEE 2022-23 led us to Warsaw. A tight program of visits to our partner university SGH, Intercars, the Polish investment agency and Advantage Austria awaited us. For most of us 23 students it was the first time in this city. And the city immediately captivated us. Embark on a journey with us as we recount our captivating field trip to Warsaw, where we delved into the city’s rich culture, savored tantalizing cuisine, and explored the vibrant business landscape of this Central and Eastern European treasure.

Impressive Architecture and cuisine

A sightseeing tour covering Polish history from the Middle Ages, King Sobieski, Frederic Chopin, Marie Curie, Warsaw uprising and Jewish ghetto to socialist times provided a good background for our field trip. As we wandered through the streets of Warsaw, we were struck by its unique urban landscape, a testament to its post-World War II Soviet reconstruction. The grandiose architecture, spacious squares, and wide boulevards served as fascinating reminders of how history can leave its mark on a city’s physical environment. Our exploration of Warsaw was heightened by the opportunity to indulge in authentic Polish cuisine. From delectable pierogis to mouth-watering bigos, we discovered the diverse culinary traditions of Central and Eastern Europe. The warm and hospitable atmosphere of the restaurants we visited offered a glimpse into Poland’s welcoming culture, leaving an indelible impression on our senses.

Navigating technological progress, growth and sustainability

A riveting presentation by Prof. Dr. Piotr Ploszajski on the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with provoking thoughts left us contemplating its potential benefits and challenges. The engaging discussion prompted us to consider the ethical implications of AI technology, underscoring the importance of ongoing dialogue and collaboration to ensure its responsible development. During our visit to Intercars, the #1 in Poland and CEE and #2 in EU in automotive spare parts distribution, showed us how companies can grow fast in a business environment characterized by multiple crises. The impressive 74,000m2 prime warehouse with 2,600 employees in Zakroczym that we visited will be complemented soon by a new even larger facility. However, we observed in the discussion with management that sustainability seemed secondary to financial success – investments in renewable energy have to pay off otherwise they are shelved. Without overemphasizing this example, this experience tells us that the need for organizations to strike a balance between economic growth and environmental stewardship. And that this dilemma is still seen differently from a Poland than an Austrian perspective.

Opportunities in offshoring and rebuilding Ukraine

The field trip highlighted the differences in living costs between Poland and Austria. While Poland’s standard of living has risen in recent years, the country still offers lower costs in many areas, also for foreign investors. This realization sparked a conversation about the future attractiveness of Poland as an offshoring destination for European firms. Poland is highly attractive for business process outsourcing as the many shared service centers spread out over the country prove. Additionally, there was a strong growth of R&D centers of global firms in the last years indicating the high quality of university education. The rebuilding of Ukraine will create enormous growth opportunities for Polish firms – and as we learned at PAIH, the Polish investment agency, also for foreign firms that are looking for Polish partners and investment locations to be prepared for the reconstruction boom after the end of the war. We were captivated by Poland’s dynamic startup ecosystem, fueled by talented entrepreneurs and relatively low business costs. This thriving environment suggests potential opportunities for international investors to capitalize on Poland’s resourcefulness and nurture successful startups for the global market.

Our time in Warsaw was made even more memorable by the camaraderie of our fellow classmates. From engaging discussions to rooftop bar visits, we cherished the moments spent together, reflecting on the day’s events and deepening our understanding of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. In conclusion, our field trip to Warsaw was a mesmerizing journey into the heart of Central and Eastern Europe. We gained invaluable insights into the region’s culture, cuisine, and business environment, and are grateful for the unforgettable experiences we shared with our fellow classmates. The memories and lessons from this trip will stay with us for a lifetime.

Erich Weszelits
Class president 22/23

All details of the Master Class CEE can be found on the website: