Max Stefański

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The CEMS Global Alliance is a purpose led organization, powered by our beliefs that great leadership starts with self-leadership and societal progress requires continual exploration. In this series of interviews, we take a look at CEMS students and alumni that are contributing to make this world a more open, sustainable and inclusive world.

How a pandemic situation can change your whole life in just two weeks.

Today, in our series Humans of CEMS, we would like to introduce you to Max Stefański, who is CEMS student 2019/20 from Poland. His home University is SGH Warsaw School of Economics and he was lucky enough to do his exchange in Autumn at Corvinus University Budapest. He loves travelling and he planned to do at least two trips outside Europe this year, well… Fortunately, he has more passions, one of which is music. For this one luckily, he has no constraints when being stuck at home.

1. How does the coronavirus crisis impact on your daily routine? How does your life change in case of covid-19?

I will be honest with you and I will admit that I had never expected such a drastic change in my life made in such a short period of time as I experienced in the past 2 months. As I was both continuing my professional job and starting the new CEMS semester I have to say that my schedule at the beginning of March was already fully packed for the next 2 months. Lots of lectures, meetings, commuting between work, University and home, but also lot of fun ahead. One of the things I was looking forward to was the V4 conference and travelling with our cohort around Poland. And then everything changed within two weeks…

My whole daily routine together with all of the plans had to be abandoned. My whole life professional, academic and personal basically stopped, which I’ve never experienced before but I know we all pretty much felt the same. It was definitely hard at the beginning just to accept it. From the time perspective I can see how much I’ve ignored the news in February thinking that this is only in China or somewhere else in the world, but definitely not here so it cannot influence my life. Well, I do believe we all took this hard but valuable lesson.

2. How do you deal with CEMS Business Project in the current situation? 

I did realize that the project will not be continued as it should be when our colleague as well as all of CEMSies left Poland to be safe at home. More and more countries started to close the borders so it started to be obvious that we might not see each other again soon. As companies moved to remote work, we also knew that the meetings with companies might no longer be conducted in their offices, which was another pity.

Still the biggest impact on the project was connected with the restrictions implemented by many governments. As together with my team, we are working for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the closure of the shopping malls completely reshaped our approach to tackle the topic. However, thanks to my great team we were able to identify amazing opportunities out of this. Therefore, we decided to conduct the survey in which we tried to examine the true feelings on shopping. As nobody could go to the shopping mall, we were truly curious whether the people were missing the shopping malls at all and whether they’ve changed their shopping behaviour and started buying more extensively through ecommerce platforms. I do find this opportunity very unique. 

Although I’m still pretty sad about the final presentation which unfortunately will have to be conducted online, I’m really looking forward to sharing what we’ve been working on for the past two months.

3. What will be the biggest outcome or change for you from this time?

I think there are two things that could be considered as a valuable outcome of the pandemic for me. Firstly, I think that life gave me a tough lesson of humility. I’ve always realized how unpredictable life could be, however I thought it is valid to the certain extent. It means that the reality we are living in cannot change within a day.  I think the pandemic will teach us all, how those small things like meetings with friends, smiling to a stranger on the street or even running out late for a bus are important in our life. Therefore, I’m happy I had this shock to now be able to enjoy those little things again.

Secondly as I had more free time, I also was able to spend some of it on something I love which is music and playing guitar. Being stuck at home and feeling lonely sometimes gave me a specific mood to create something unique which for me was recording my first song which is called "Love Quarantine". I have really enjoyed the time spent on it, sometimes frustrating, sometimes funny - as my vocals were recorded in the… wardrobe(!) - but I have to say that it was a great experience to connect more with inner self. Although it’s not perfect I’m happy to share my music and feelings with others as I believe we all sometimes stuck in the love quarantine – whether or not we are having a coronavirus pandemic. 

Max Stefański
Max Stefański