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Silicon Valley 2016 Blog Series

Teams from the Class of 2017 are writing about their experiences in Silicon Valley as a part of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Business Consulting Trip in a series of blogs. You are currently reading the first blog in the series. You can read their additional blogs by clicking on the buttons below.

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Blog 1: Anticipation Mounts as the Class of 2017 fly into San Francisco

By Ashley Mascarenhas

A view of San Francisco as the airplane makes it's decentI slump down into my chair while I push my bag under the seat in front of me.  I rub my eyes that are still heavy from a night of impatient excitement.  I look out the window and watch the ground crew pull away the empty baggage carts. I start to gaze outside at nothing in particular.  Just thinking about what awaits me and the 36 other members of my executive MBA team in San Francisco. 

As the flight attendants start the pre-flight safety routine.  My mind starts to drift and I turn to see my peers, Paul and Lou, sitting together but distracted fumbling with their phones.  Probably, finishing off those last minute emails to their employees telling them what they need to do for the upcoming week or maybe saying one last good bye to their partners. 

The plane starts to pull away from the airport and starts to move towards the runway.  I look out my window and start to think about the email Jami, Executive MBA Program Manager, sent the class and now start to contemplate the simple question she asked of our team, “What are you hoping to learn?” I smile at my image in the window because all I can think of is “Fun in the sun.”  After some deep self-reflection my body is pulled back into my seat as the plane takes off.  I realize there are going to be so many things that I hope to learn on this adventure. 

I hope to learn how the collaborative nature of Silicon Valley allows for companies to team up with very little concern about losing their “Je ne sais pas”.  In addition, I look forward to hearing the briefings from the companies we are going to visit and see how Silicon Valley has made them a better company.  I know from the beginning of the program everyone keeps telling us that Silicon Valley is special and different.  I hope to learn and grasp some understanding on what actually makes it an incubator of talent which allows companies and entrepreneurs to succeed.  The other things I hope to learn is how start-up financing works and to what extent has there been a shift from apps and other software to hardware development.

A flight attendant taps me on the arm, loosing my train of thought I look at her.  “Coffee please,” I respond.  As she hands me my coffee, I feel the warmth of the paper cup and wonder. “What would someone from Silicon Valley see or think of if they were holding this cup.” Would they see a million-dollar idea or just this paper cup that I see?  I set the cup down and gently sip at it while my mind starts to wonder back to the question, “What are you hoping to learn?”.  I really do hope to learn something that will make me a better person when I come back to Canada.  Maybe a new perspective on how to look at things or how to deal with complex situations.  Sophia always says “after Silicon Valley people change”.  Will I and if so how?  I guess it is all part of learning. You learn something, you adapt and change. 

At the end I hope to learn something that will lead me into a new direction on my path of life.  At the end of the day I was always told “If you are not learning you are dead”.  The fasten your seat belt light turned on and we are about to land.  One hour down only eight and a half left to go today.  So much more time left for me to contemplate this one question further. 


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