I decided to make use of the Stanford connections and travel with a group of about 25 students to a country I have never been to. Through a lottery system I got to go on the trip to Australia which was focused on "The Two Speed Economy" and incorporated meetings with Australian leaders from business, politics and society.
The next four blog entries will each be fairly short and focus on a different location we visited:
Melbourne (December 15 - 17)
Even before the official start of the trip our group had lost two members due to visa issues. A couple more students got their visas literally last second. My own trip via LAX, TYO and KUL was long, but fairly uneventful. I tasted both Japanese and Malaysian cuisine and arrived on the evening of December 14th in Melbourne, stayed at a hostel and joined the group the next morning. Soaking in both the culture as well as the local brews we wandered around town and concluded that Melbourne is both beautiful and expensive (think 10 USD for a beer). Our meetings in Melbourne included:
David Peever (MD Australia, Rio Tinto)
Leigh Clifford (Chairman of the Board, Qantas)
Jayne Hrdlicka (CEO, Jetstar Group)
Ian Anderson (CFO, Australian Football Leagues)
James Sutherland (CEO, Cricket Australia)
It was interesting to see the perspective of two Australian airlines on the local aviation market and the issues they have to fight with. Jetstar was established by Qantas to tap into the low-cost market. A move very similar to Germanwings being built up and strengthened by Lufthansa. Some issues that resulted in endless discussions (e.g. Which IT system to use? Whether LH managers should join Germanwings) were discussed by Jayne and it became obvious that Jetstar is a different company to Qantas that in only very few aspect shows ties to its mother company in order not to dilute the low-cost approach. I am excited to see (and actually fairly skeptical) whether that will or won't happen to Lufthansa as well. The multitude of manager going over to Germanwings, the high-class low-cost product as well as LH requiring Germanwings to mirror some IT applications seem to go into the wrong direction.
Overall, Melbourne was great, especially because we talked about airlines, got to the the cricket stadium and went to a few interesting bars!