Europe Study Tour 2016 – Day 8

Written by: Kevin Ramnarine (MBA Candidate) and Graham Taylor (MBA Candidate)

May 9, 2016

Bier und Schnitzel – A Day in the Life of Bär (a.k.a. Edy the Bear).

I started off the day picking up my two best friends Kevin and Graham from the Hotel Ibis in West Berlin. I was excited to spend the day together as they have been talking about  “Bier und Schnitzel” all week.  I was also looking forward to visiting Ottobock and learning about family business.

As a global family-owned company, an important facet of business is forging international partnerships. When I got to Ottobock I ran into my old friend Bruno Rodriguez Parilla — you would probably know him best as Cuba’s Foreign Minister. I was surprised to run into him in Berlin but given his busy schedule with his buddy Barack lately he found some time to take me for a coffee at a nearby Starbucks. Of course I had a honey latte… with extra honey.

Bruno had an important meeting on the 4th floor, so I gave him some space and hung out with my friends Kevin and Graham on the main floor. That’s okay, I don’t mind sharing spaces (bears like open spaces). We also were able to see some of Ottoboock’s latest technological advancements.

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The company is the market leader in prosthetics and high performance mobility devices to get people moving; that’s their number one goal. The company told us about their sponsorship of the Paralympic games this summer in Rio, I sure hope I get to go to Rio one day!

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Here is a picture of me testing some of their latest technology, my buddy Graham kept me safe. My friend Kevin dropped me off a building however… thankfully it was just a simulator.

On our way out of Ottobock I ran into some other old friends just outside the main office. One of my best friends, Igloo, the Canadian Polar Bear was there to greet me. Igloo is one of the United Buddy Bears, a group of bears (like me) that promote peace, international understanding and tolerance among the nations, cultures and religions of this world.

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Kevin and Graham took me for a brief lunch (still no bier oder schnitzel…) and then we were off to visit with the Stiftung Familienunternehmen. While I’m obviously fluent in German by now… for those of my fans that don’t speak German, this is the Foundation for Family Owned Business. The foundation gave us some much needed water (no honey… =[ ) on a hot day like today and taught us about family enterprise in Germany. It turns out Germany is unique for its number of big family-owned businesses and a large challenge that these businesses are facing are matters relating to inheritance and exit taxes. This was particularly interesting given that my friends at Merck (which I visited last week) have made large investments in foreign countries like the USA. I thought I would share a picture of my time at the foundation and how I learned how family businesses have played a role in history over time.

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Kevin and Graham took me to the Neues Museum after our visit with the foundation.  Ssadly there’s no photography allowed in the Nefertiti exhibit… what happens there stays there! I liked learning about the Egyptian history and found the building truly beautiful. There was an interesting exhibit that provides a glimpse of the different ages (stone age, bronze age, iron age, etc.). but all of that walking gave me a huge appetite.

After I threatened Graham and Kevin with my fork and knife they finally caved and took me to Zum Haxenwirt which served the best Bier und Schnitzel I have ever had!

The Bier was fresh and local to Germany, I sampled some of Kevin’s Dunkel and finished it off with a helping of Graham’s Heffeweissen. I recommend both for anyone that likes beer! Schnitzel is a local favorite and our waitress described it as Wiener Art. I thought it tasted very much like pork… but what do I know, I’m just a bear. I put some lemon on it, it was yummy. A few more of those and I’ll be ready for hibernation!

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