Off We Go…

My name is Ashkan Payami (you can call me Ash), and I am a 2nd year Full-Time MBA Student at Chapman University.  I got my undergraduate degree in Biology at UC Santa Barbara.  When I graduated, I started working at Sam’s Club as an Operations Manager for 3 years and it was during this time that I also created my own startup company.  In order to get a more formal business acumen and to grow my network, I decided to attend Chapman ASBE.  Currently, I work at Lionsgate Entertainment as an Operations Intern.  I also serve as a graduate assistant for Professor Clark Higgins, and most recently was elected to the Chapman MBA Association Board.  On my free time, I like to write poetry/raps, run, go to concerts, and read books.  I am looking forward to getting to know everyone in this travel course and program, so if we have not met personally, please come say hi!


So that is Ash, and my name is Blake. I too am in the MBA program and I received a B.S. in Astrophysics from St. Mary’s College in Northern California. I worked as a general technology consultant and was highly involved with a few different research projects. One of the main reasons for pursuing an MBA is to fill the need for more scientists who understand business, or visa versa. Not many people in my field have knowledge of both the scientific material and the ways of business. This program is meant to give me the tools to relate to as many people as I can. As such, I will also have to be able to relate to those in vastly different cultures and economies. This course specifically addresses this need and piques my interest. I have personally always wanted to study the Scandinavian business model and now I get the chance to have a hands-on lesson. I personally cannot wait to build connections and learn about a new way of business. On a personal note, I am an avid photographer, I sing and play guitar, and I love being outside hiking or playing sports. Just like Ash said, please come up and feel free to strike up a conversation, I’d love to get to know you!



Team #3 photo with #BizScand mentors/leaders

As Blake and I begin to embark on this once in a lifetime trip with #chapmanU there are so many thoughts going through our minds and things we must consider.  How exciting is this moment leading up the trip?! We are both thrilled to be a part of this group of students, professors, and mentors, and just these first few days together in class have allowed us both to reflect on some of the many expectations that we have for this travel course.  

Both Blake and myself have been to Europe in the past, and while I have visited Stockholm last summer, my stay was very brief (only 2 days) and it was a small stop in a long Euro trip I was taking.  This trip is going to be very different for us because now we get the opportunity to learn from international companies, executives and from each other.  Based off of the class and doing some research on these locations we will be visiting, it is obvious that this will be vastly different from doing career treks in the United States, but this is what makes this opportunity so unique and exciting for us.  

We expect the people of Sweden to be humble, non-ostentatious, hard-working, and self-motivated. Take IKEA for example, no matter how successful the company has gotten, all items are designed to ship flatly to save on expenses. Also, the executives of this large company are not expected to dress any differently or more flashy than any other employee. This is a widely held cultural assumption that can be seen in most companies and throughout the Swedish culture.  Learning more about the Swedish culture will shed more insight as to how companies like IKEA have grown to becomes such recognized and powerful international brands.

We hope everyone has safe travels, and we look forward to seeing you all on #bizscand.

Note: For those of you who are not joining us and are keeping up with our blog, please feel free to comment or reach out to us with any questions you may have!


As part of our blog series, Blake & I will be doing video documentaries on the food we eat! Here is Part 1 at Bruxie in the Circle as our “last supper” in the United States before we leave for Europe tomorrow.  Enjoy!


Bruxie's Chicken & Waffles Sandwich and Rootbeer Float