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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.

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