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Iceland’s President gives speech to Cass MBA students in Reykjavik

President Olafur Grimsson joins students for dinner to end MBA consulting week

The President of Iceland joined Cass Business School students at a private dinner to mark the end of MBA consulting week.

Olafur Grimsson, Iceland's head of state for 18 years, spoke to 100 full-time MBA students at the iconic Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik.

Giving a speech on the country's future, the President told how Iceland's economy would be shaped by the Arctic Circle.

He claimed the region's natural resources and its potential to shorten shipping routes could place Iceland "at the centre of a new global highway". 

"These are some of the reasons why I believe it's important to keep coming to Iceland in the coming years and decades if you want to be a player in the world economy," he said.

Read MBA student Serena Mehta's blog from Iceland 

Dr Sionade Robinson, Cass's Associate Dean, said:  "It was an honour to end the School's consulting week in the company of the President.  After giving an overview of the country's history, culture and economic outlook, he invited students to ask questions and share their experiences of Iceland. It's not often that you get to talk with a head of state over dinner."

MBA student, Gbonju Fanimokun, from Nigeria, sat on the President's table. "Meeting the President was a highlight of my week," she said. "He engaged us in conversations about our experience of visiting and working in Iceland and I was pleasantly surprised when he shifted the discussion to me and my home country."

Sophie Treillard, an MBA student from France, added: "This was the first time I've been able to ask questions directly and in person to a country's President. This is a quite a memory."

View pictures from MBA consulting week

Cass is the first international business school to stage its MBA consulting week in Iceland. Students spent an intensive week working on business projects for 19 leading companies.

Among the firms was one of Iceland's largest banks, Lansbankinn, pharmaceutical giant, Alvogen, outdoor clothing brand, 66 Degrees North and biotechnology firm, Orf Genetics. Other companies included start-up whiskey distillery, Thoran, international law firm, Logos, global food company, Icelandic, and energy firm, Landsvirkjun.

"This was the first opportunity we've had to apply our MBA tools and knowledge to real business problems," said Koby Cohen, from Israel. "Not only did we have to cope with  multi-dimensional business problems but also the unique Icelandic market."

"I gained a real insight into what it takes to be a consultant and the skills involved in managing client expectations, teamwork, identifying the real business problem and delivering a feasible solution in a sensitive way."

Find out how MBA consulting week unfolded on Twitter 

The study tour also gave students time to experience the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa set in a volcanic lava field.  Students spent an afternoon swimming in the lagoon's waters which reach temperatures of 39 degrees.

Other students extended their stay to experience more of Iceland's other attractions. "It was an amazing time," added Koby. "In just a few days we had dinner with the President, climbed volcanoes and glaciers, watched whales, exploding geysers and the Northern Lights, went clubbing and enjoyed the local food, and all with a group of MBA friends from around the world." 

Discover more about MBA consultancy week

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