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Filippa Nylander Svensson: How HyFlex Courses Made it Possible to Immerse and Collaborate Across Distance For This Visiting Student

For Filippa Nylander Svensson, an exchange student from the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, attending Columbia has always been a dream. While Filippa is pursuing an M.Sc. in Economics and Business Administration with a major in Management of Innovation, Columbia’s Graduate Visiting Student program allowed her to pursue this dream. 

With the pandemic becoming an obstacle on her way to New York, Columbia’s HyFlex coursework allowed her to fully engage with the program remotely from the first day until she was able to attend classes in-person. 

We sat down with her to learn more about her time at Columbia, her experience with HyFlex courses, and her hopes for the future moving forward.

What attracted you to the Graduate Visiting Student program?

Attending Columbia has always been a dream of mine. From my first visit to New York, it has stimulated and inspired me to a new dynamic frame of reference. Throughout history, New York has shown how true diversity is the basis for innovation in so many sectors, such as finance, arts, academia, fashion, music, and more. It has been a childhood dream of mine to study at Columbia University, and I thought that surrounding myself with some of the brightest minds in the world would inspire me to achieve my goals. I believe Columbia University is an excellent place where innovative ideas can thrive and where you can build a network.

My master's program gave me the opportunity to pursue an exchange semester -- that is why the Graduate Visiting Student program was a perfect fit for me.

What has your experience been like in HyFlex courses? Both online and in-person?

I have had an excellent experience so far with the HyFlex courses. I had some issues with my visa due to COVID, so I arrived in New York a few weeks after the semester had started. Hence, in the first weeks, I attended class via Zoom from Stockholm, which worked out well for me. The professors and lecturers are doing a great job keeping the class engaged and giving us the chance to interact with each other on Zoom. They put you in break out rooms where you are divided into smaller groups for short exercises. These groups have been an excellent way of getting to know people in your class.  

Of course, it has been different attending in-person during COVID. However,  the personal interactions with your peers and the professor before and after class do not come as naturally over Zoom. I am happy that I had the opportunity to attend some classes in-person but I must admit that sometimes it is more convenient to participate through Zoom, so I appreciate the flexibility of the HyFlex courses. Classes are also recorded -- I like being able to go over lectures again.

The professors and lecturers are doing a great job keeping the class engaged and giving us the chance to interact with each other on Zoom. They put you in break out rooms where you are divided into smaller groups for short exercises. These groups have been an excellent way of getting to know people in your class.  

What have been some of your favorite courses so far?  

I have to say that I like all my courses!

I am attending a course called Managing Human Behavior in the Organization with Professor Strayer, which I find very interesting. I also believe that Professor Strayer is a fascinating person. She shares a lot of stories from her career, which I thought was so valuable. She also invites many guest lecturers to the class, which I find very interesting and I highly appreciate it.  

Another course I am enjoying is Entrepreneurship: Developing and Implementing New Ideas with Michael McGuire. I believe Michael is an excellent lecturer -- he creates an engaging environment for students to interact and share their thoughts and ideas. He is also an entrepreneur himself, which also makes him an amazing resource.

Delivering the Strategic Message is the third course that comes to mind immediately. Matthew Frederick is an excellent instructor, and I think this is the most "hands-on" class where we get to learn how to be strategic presenters. Matthew is a great speaker and makes class very interesting. Also, I think the course readings are all books I would have wanted to read in my spare time, which always is a plus!

How are you staying connected with faculty and your peers during this time?

Since I could attend some classes in person, I have had the chance to meet some students outside of the classroom. I met one girl on Zoom through a breakout room assignment in class, and when we met in person later, we became great friends. Since all the courses have multiple group projects, it is very easy to get to know people, whether in-person or online.

I have also joined a newly created student organization called the Columbia Venture Capital Club. This is another great way to connect with new people even if you are not on campus, in-person.

What do you hope to do in the future? And how are your studies at Columbia helping you get there?

In the future, I wish to work with startups or to found my own company. I am very interested in how incorporating sustainability will affect how companies operate and transform their business models. I believe working at a venture capital company would be very eye-opening. You are always following the latest trends in the market and helping new and promising startups to scale. I want to be one of the leaders who transform the world into a better place. I believe I -- along with a new generation of ambitious young women like myself -- will foster change and a more sustainable society through innovation, business skills, and personal networks.

Columbia has helped me a lot in getting closer to achieving my goals. The entrepreneurship class is valuable since we are tasked with developing our own company from scratch and will end with an investor pitch. Delivering the strategic message is helping me develop my presentation skills, which are especially important when pitching to investors. Managing human behavior makes you reflect upon yourself and others, become self-aware, which I believe is vital to succeeding in your career. It has been an eye-opener and is a class that I will refer back to with my entire career. Lastly, the sustainability management class made me interested in what the future will look like and sustainability will affect the business landscape. It has given me so many valuable insights into how businesses must transform to foster a sustainable society.

Learn more about Columbia’s Visiting Student programs here.