By Laura Barlament
lot can happen in students lives as they go through a Krannert Executive
Education Program. For Branko Malagurski and Lukasz Zybaczynski, December
2000 graduates of the International Master's in Management (IMM) program,
the two years brought changes and events on a scale beyond the norm.
natives of former Eastern Bloc countries, Malagurski and Zybaczynski have
lived through war, governmental collapse, and the transition into a new
economic system. In comparison, the typical American conception of a dynamic
business environment seems like child's play. But the two men both see
their Krannert education as a definite boon - to themselves personally,
to their work, and to the people they serve.
Malagurski has meshed different professions during his career. He studied
law at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, where he received a master's
degree in international law in 1983 and a PhD in trade law in 1994. During
his graduate education, he worked as a lawyer for the SEVER Corporation,
based in Subotica, Yugoslavia. In 1989, however, he moved into the corporation's
market research division. He served as a legal advisor and participated
in a range of tasks relating to the international part of the business,
including strategic planning, market research, sales, and partnership negotiations.
changes that were affecting the economic structures of his region and the
world prompted him to seek out a master's in business. He chose Krannert's
IMM program because of the high-quality education offered at a reasonable
cost, the good reputation of the schools involved, and the flexibility
that allowed him to continue working as he earned his degree.
Balkans in particular have had one of the most difficult transitions from
Communism to a free-market system. Malagurski was at the first two-week
IMM residency, held at Purdue in March 1999, when NATO began bombing Yugoslavia
in order to stop atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. "I
can hardly remember a more difficult moment in my life, Malagurski says.
Not because of myself, because I was safe and surrounded with people I
knew, who were friendly toward me. My thoughts were with my family in Yugoslavia."
this time, Malagurski says, his classmates and the Krannert faculty were
a great support to him. Nevertheless, these circumstances endangered his
livelihood and his ability to continue in the program. "Professor
Lewellen asked me whether I would like to continue my studies," he
recalls. "I had the will, but my material situation was desperate.
At that moment, as I had decided not to return to my country for a certain
time, I was actually a refugee without refugee status."
the in-residence session at Purdue, Malagurski received the welcome news
that Krannert and its partner universities would subsidize his educational
the NATO raids in Yugoslavia ended in June 1999, Malagurski returned to
his home country to find it in shambles, physically and economically. He
continued his work with SEVER Corporation in Subotica, although his company
scaled back his job due to political reconstruction effects.
he has high hopes for the democratic reforms made possible by the election
of the opposition party in September 2000, the country has a long road
ahead. "The situation might be compared with Germany after the Second
World War," he says. "People do not have sufficient income to
cover daily costs. The need for help from the international community is
urgent, in order to stabilize the situation and show people how a real
democracy and normal political relations with neighboring countries can
help them live a normal life."
the knowledge he gained through his Krannert education, Malagurski is well-positioned
to help rebuild his ravaged country. Currently, he is leading two initiatives
aimed at reconstructing small- and medium-sized enterprises in Subotica
and throughout the country. These projects are part of his work with the
Open University, an institution developed through local and foreign educational
institutions and supported by a few non-governmental organizations. "Through
this work," he says, "I will be able to connect theory with practice
and creatively apply the knowledge I gained in the IMM program." He
also anticipates starting a business to mediate between domestic companies
and foreign corporations interested in investing in Yugoslavia.
says that thanks to his Krannert education, his understanding of business
has entered a totally new dimension. "I am able to calculate the risk
of a certain venture, and do not just have to rely on a 'feeling' about
whether I should enter the arrangement or not," he says.
sees many positive possibilities for his own future, including helping
domestic companies to function within an open-market economy, working on
the country's economic infrastructure, and helping to manage foreign companies
that enter Yugoslavia. "I have possibilities for helping the development
of this economy and for getting a well-paid job with either a domestic
or a foreign company." he says.
Zybaczynski's career practically started with a career change. He was studying
medicine at the University of Krakow, Poland, while a 50-year governmental
and ideological system was crumbling around him. By the time he had finished
his surgical specialization in 1992, many Western businesses were starting
to enter the newly opened Eastern European markets. Recruiters from Eli
Lilly & Company approached Zybaczynski, and he decided to give the
business world a try.
had come in on the ground floor of a rapidly expanding operation, and he
quickly moved from sales into marketing. Only three years later, he got
yet another promotion and moved to Sofia, Bulgaria, "to create the
organization virtually from zero" in that country. "In three
years, I was already teaching people about Lilly. I was Lilly for Bulgaria," Zybaczynski
explains. At the same time, he witnessed more political unrest. "In
1995, there was still a Communist government in Bulgaria, just on the verge
of changes. So, while I lived there, I saw another Communist regime falling
serving as country manager for Bulgaria for about two years, he became
managing director for the "BYMA" area - Bulgaria, Yugoslavia,
Macedonia, and Albania. This promotion required him, along with his wife
and his three children, to relocate to Budapest, Hungary.
after this move, Zybaczynski felt that he needed some formal business training. "I
was basically working with my gut feelings, my common sense, my instincts.
When I went to higher responsibilities, I started to feel like an amateur
between the professionals."
applied and was accepted into Krannert's IMM program, which had an orientation
session in January 1999. Only a month later, the imminent war in Serbia
shut down business possibilities in the BYMA region. Zybaczynski and his
family moved near the Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis. "I
started the program before I actually knew that I was coming to Indianapolis," he
says. "But, one of the reasons that I selected the IMM program was
the flexibility that it offers. I am the best example that you can move
between continents without interrupting your education."
approached the move with his usual sense of opportunity and curiosity.
From his perspective, the stereotypes about the "New World" and "Old
World" don't hold anymore. Compared to the Balkans and Central and
Eastern Europe, he says, everything in the U.S. is very established. "People
talk a lot about change and change management, but I have difficulties
understanding what they are talking about. Where I came from, we were virtually
creating the reality. Everything was changing daily. Here in the U.S.,
you're dealing with established processes, the way people have done things
for 50 years. Even if you see a better way of doing things, it's difficult
to implement it. It is fascinating."
Zybaczynski is responsible for the global marketing of antibiotics at Lilly.
He believes the IMM program has prepared him to meet this challenge with
confidence. "One of the nice things about this program is that you
can apply the theory while it's still fresh in your mind," he says. "You
learn in the evening and implement in the morning."
diversity brought a wealth of experience to the coursework. Often, students
in the class had lived through the real-life case studies. "The professor
might be trying to make a point, and one of the students would say, 'Wait
a minute, I was there. I know how the decision was made. know
this person; I know that person," he
all of the changes in his career and life, Zybaczynski says that his focus
has remained consistent. In my life, the important thing is to have a higher
purpose, he explains. "When I worked as a physician, the reason was
to help people. When I came to work at Lilly, I had the same reason. Success
in his job means that people will benefit from Lilly's high-quality pharmaceuticals.
In fact, he believes he is helping more people now than he could as a physician.
also feels that the knowledge he gained through the IMM program will ultimately
aid him in helping more people. "I can do things that
I might have done before, but now I know why they should be done that way,
he explains. There are also situations where your common sense is not enough.
This is when you really need theoretical knowledge and can benefit from
the experience of others."
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