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‘Everyone Is Excited about Innovation and Digital Transformation’

‘Everyone Is Excited about Innovation and Digital Transformation’

Monica Spychala (USA) is a double-degree Master's student at Technische Universität Berlin and HSE University’s Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), where she studies Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation. Monica spoke with HSE News Service about why she chose HSE, what it is like to study remotely in the Governance of STI programme, and how she is already putting her knowledge into practice.


Monica Spychala

From Houston to Berlin to Moscow

I worked in Houston, Texas, both in academic research and in a corporate environment for about 5 years after completing my Bachelor's degree in Connecticut. I decided to pursue my Master's degree in Germany both for the education and professional prospects, and to be closer to my nuclear family in Poland. I currently live In Basel, Switzerland where I am working in Pharma Informatics at Roche.

Choosing HSE for a Double Degree

I have many Russian friends, as well as a general fascination with the Russian language, history, and culture, so of course when I saw that there was a programme that allowed me to study in Russia, I applied and hoped to exceed the strict admission criteria and to be selected for the programme. 

I heard about HSE Moscow in the past from a Russian colleague in Houston, therefore, I already knew it was a very well-regarded, prestigious university and certainly on the forefront of innovation and technologies studies.  As I am a double-degree Master’s student, our programme is set up so that we complete the first part of our studies at Technische Universität Berlin. Then, we have the possibility to apply to 5 partner universities to complete the second part of our studies.

During the first semester, I was very impressed by my peers at TU Berlin who were from HSE, and I knew I wanted to apply to the STI programme. Earning a spot as a double-degree student was highly competitive and I was happy to get the good news that I was admitted.  

The programme is very attractive as it allows students to work on real-life practical case studies

Studying Remotely

We are able to refine our teamwork and leadership skills, as well as connect with professors and guest lecturers who are experts in their field.  What makes the experiences very special is how diverse my classmate are — not only are they from various countries but also from various backgrounds. There are many engineers, economists, business leaders, informatics experts, and entrepreneurs.  All of them have very accomplished backgrounds professionally and academically, in addition to being very sociable and motivated individuals. It's evident that these students and professors are excited about innovation and digital transformation (a personal passion of mine), staying up to date on relevant breakthroughs in the tech world.

HSE is very well-organized and responsive with e-mail, meeting platforms, and learning platforms

Communication has never been an issue — I felt very supported even though I was not on campus. Though studying online is definitely not the ideal situation since I would love to experience the megalopolis that is Moscow, I will get to experience the city when I come to defend my thesis in September 2021 at HSE. Thankfully, a few of my classmates who live in Moscow have offered to be tour guides and explore the city with me. Online exams were challenging but effective—everything was well-organized with various collaboration tools.

Favourite Courses and Professors

The most interesting subjects for me have been Managing Creativity and Innovation, as well as Technology Assessment.  The studies are challenging and require a lot of time, effort, and group work. However, the output and payoff for the work is high.

I have learned about technology road-mapping and forecasting, hierarchical decision modelling, corporate culture effects on innovation, how a city can help creativity and innovation, and whether we can teach ourselves to become more creative

I need to rave about Dr. Mikhail Gershman — I cannot say enough wonderful things about him and his course. It's evident that this subject matter is his passion and that he cares that his students are inspired to think and understand and take something away from each lecture. Even the exam was something where I felt not that I just answered questions. I felt that I was compelled to think in a new way where I learned even more. 

Professor Gershman brought in world-renown guest lecturers such as Professor Tudor Rickards and Professor Ian Miles from the University of Manchester. His course was my favourite during my time at HSE and I find myself bringing up points I learned in his course during conversations with my new colleagues and with friends alike. I feel that his course has impacted the way I approach teamwork and leadership, and just generally how I generate thoughts and ideas for both work and personal obstacles.  

Putting Knowledge into Practice

I am applying what I've learned at HSE and TU about innovation, digital transformation, and project management during a Praktikum at Hoffmann-La Roche, a biotechnology and pharmaceutical company in Basel, Switzerland. I work with a very international team located in Poland, Germany, San Francisco, and Singapore among other places.

HSE University welcomes applicants from all over the world and offers not only different levels of study, but also different formats in English and Russian, online and offline. 

International applicants can apply for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes in a separate admissions process for foreign applicants and receive scholarships with full or partial tuition fee coverage.

Undergraduate applicants can test their chances of admission now by taking mock tests. Master’s applicants also have the opportunity to get a preliminary assessment of their portfolio and communicate with their programme of choice online.

To learn more about HSE University, its admission process, or life in Moscow, please visit International Admissions website, or contact the Education & Training Advisory Centre at: inter@hse.ru, or via WhatsApp at: +7 (916) 311 8521.

See also:

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'It's Exciting to Study in a Rapidly Changing World'

Recognized card game masters claim that victory is possible only after making a thorough analysis of the likely combinations contained in your opponent’s cards, making it a literal application of data analytics to game theory. Anastasia Erastova, now a data scientist at the New York office of BNP Paribas, graduated from ICEF with honours. At the time, she was also the Russian vice-champion at bridge. In an interview with Success Builder, she explained why mathematics and gambling often go hand in hand, the advantages of studying next door to Wall Street and how math students can get a work visa in the United States.

'In the Future I Want to Open a Business School in Nigeria'

Graduate of HSE University and University of Luxemburg Tobi Oladiran from Nigeria reflects on his experience and takeaways from the Master’s programme in Strategic Corporate Finance and the double track it offers.

Challenges Make You Stronger: London Faculty Members Assess ICEF Students’ Performance in 2020

HSE ICEF students annually are awarded prizes and commendation letters from the University of London for their academic achievements and internationally top-ranking exam scores in the international double degree programme. In addition, University of London faculty members note the high level of our students in comparison with other students from around the world.

Graduate Programme in Russian Literature Launches Double Degree Track

HSE University — Saint Petersburg and the Free University of Berlin have signed an agreement on a new double degree track for the Master's programme 'Russian Literature in Cross-cultural and Intermedial Perspective'. The agreement will enable advanced students have to spend the second year of their studies in Germany and earn diplomas from both partner universities.

HSE University in St. Petersburg and Ca' Foscari University of Venice Launch a Double Degree Programme in Asian Studies

Students of the Master's programme 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia' now have the opportunity to study in the programme of Ca' Foscari University ‘Language and Management in China' for a year. On completion of their studies, students will get diplomas of both universities.

When the Borders Are Closed, Study ‘Abroad’ in a Double Degree Programme

This year, alternatives to studying abroad are as relevant as never before. HSE University annually launches new joint programmes with world’s biggest universities. One of HSE’s oldest and most recognized double degree programmes is the ICEF bachelor’s programme, in which students can earn a degree not only from HSE University, but from the University of London as well. Below, we talk about the advantages of such a degree, career opportunities after graduation, and the programme prerequisites.

HSE University – St. Petersburg Launches Three New Double Degree Tracks

In late May, the HSE campus in St. Petersburg finalized negotiations with three foreign partner universities to launch three new double degree tracks at the Master’s level.

‘The Programme Gives Us Very Practical Knowledge’

Ziong Chung Hieu, from Vietnam, is the first year student of the ‘Economics and Politics in Asia’ Double Degree BA Programme which offers students a unique opportunity to pursue two degrees, one from HSE and one from Kyung Hee University. He originally enrolled in HSE’s Mathematics programme last year but soon realized that mathematics was not really close to his heart. Now, after switching majors, he is happy with his choice.

‘I Like That the Professors Are Invested in Our Learning’

The master’s programme in Governance of Science, Technology, and Innovation offered by HSE ISSEK aims to equip students with skills that are in short supply in the private and public sectors. Courses and internship work give students a global perspective on science, technology, and innovation in addition to showing them how to be effective managers and conduct evidence-based assessment. Students also have the option of pursuing a double degree with a partner university in Europe and Asia. Francisco Jose Contreras Alarcon (Chile) and Ilaria Billo (Italy) share their experiences working towards double degrees in the programme.