The Masterclass CEE goes Prague: industry insights, cultural experiences and orange helmets

Our very first field trip organized by the Competence Center for Emerging Markets and CEE took us on a fascinating tour through Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The theme was to gain insights into the Czech environmental sustainability practices and the relevant developments as well as industries.

A lesson in Czech history

Not only were we greeted by thought-provoking industry insights, but we also learned a lot about Prague´s rich cultural history. The 26 of us explored the impeccable old town and heard tales about the past rulers of the country as well as some occasional ghost stories. Very revealing was the story of Jan Hus who acted as a church reformer already one hundred years before Luther, and later became a national hero. It explains the defiant stance of Czechs against secular and spiritual authorities. Later on, we proceeded by experiencing the rich (and quite heavy) cuisine that Prague has to offer.

The manufacturing and energy industry – the core of Czech’s economic model

Coming from different Master´s programs at WU, it was a welcomed change of perspective to experience another university campus. Prague University of Economics and Business VSÉ showed us the everyday world of its Czech and international students. Upon our arrival we had a tour of the campus. Then an interesting presentation on food waste and loss awaited us – ranging from the definition of food waste, the enormous size of this phenomenon to countermeasures successfully applied by Czech retailers to reduce the food loss. It showed us that we might have different use-cases for banana or potato peels instead of throwing them away.

Afterwards, our cohort joined a discussion organized by Advantage Austria where we learned about the important role of the manufacturing industry for Czechia’s economy. Czechia has a long manufacturing tradition and is well known for its great engineers who are always trying to be a bit better or different – best expressed by Škoda Auto’s “Simply Clever” motto. Interestingly, despite having with Skoda a leading car manufacturer in the country, e-mobility seems to be not a focus area given the low number and slow rollout of charging stations yet. Nuclear energy production is not seen as a threat as in Austria, but as a major opportunity in staying competitive and as a source for export revenues. After the initial presentation we were able to ask our burning questions in a Q&A session.

The next excursion led us to the local territories of our corporate partners. First, we got to relive our childhoods by experiencing our very own “Bob the Builder” moments when we dressed up in orange safety jackets with matching helmets at Mondi´s paper production plant. We learned how paper is produced and could watch two 100m long paper producing machines in action. At Erste Bank´s subsidiary “Česká spořitelna” we listened to a presentation about the Czech banking market, discussed the role of vision and mission statements on the strategy-making process and how headquarters and subsidiary cooperate.

After enjoying our delightful farewell dinner and exploring a dusty pub in the middle of the Prague oldtown together with Professor Schuh, we visited the print and online publishing house “Hospodárske noviny”. The discussion here centered on the survival strategies of classic media companies, the work of a journalist, and the role of digitalization.

New friendships and many new learnings

Overall, all of us really enjoyed the trip as it perfectly combined both insights and opportunities for the students to get to know each other. Many new friendships emerged from our trip as the entire group spent the evenings together and explored the most touristy spots that Prague has to offer.

It was a great experience combining economic, touristic, and social elements – all what makes a good field trip so impressive. We want to especially thank Professor Arnold Schuh and Andrea Scheichl as well as our corporate partners for making it possible.