Marc Brunssen

MBA 2019
  • Hometown: Bremerhaven, Germany
  • Pre-MBA: Consulting and Entrepreneurship

Marc Brunssen

Post Graduation Goals:

Help shape the future of transportation through autonomous driving

Highlight of my Week:

Hearing former GE CEO Jeff Immelt talk to our class about his most challenging moments running GE during the financial crisis.


Favorite GSB Memory So Far:

Giving my Talk, a 30-minute speech to my whole class about my life and what brought me to Stanford.

In my second year, I live off-campus with seven other classmates. We share our cars and drive to campus together in the morning. Nothing better than last-minute case prep and catching up on the latest gossip on these early morning car rides before the busy GSB days start.
My first class today is Strategic Communication. Taught by Lauren Weinstein and Matt Abrahams, two published experts in the field, this class is incredibly useful and interactive: Today, each of us has to give a five-minute speech in front of the entire class without notes or slides. Really good practice because it forces you to think on your feet!
Quick lunch with two other German friends who are in the first year of their MBA. Very nice to catch up!
Heading over to the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (cleverly abbreviated as CARS) to speak with Stephen, the Executive Director, about a research project I am helping him with. We want to understand how the DARPA challenges propelled the self-driving car industry in Silicon Valley. It’s so cool that you can just approach experts all over Stanford and do cool projects together! I then spend some time in the lab to get work done. The car you see is a self-drifting (!) DeLorean built by students.
I walk back to the GSB across campus and just can’t help but admire the beauty of this incredible place. This is the fountain just in front of the Stanford bookstore.
Tonight is View From The Top, a speaker series where inspiring senior leaders visit campus and share their defining life experiences with us. Tonight’s guest is Ray Dalio. He is the founder of Bridgewater, the largest hedge fund in the world, and has recently written a book about his business and life principles. He is interviewed by my fellow student and friend Will, who is doing a fantastic job!
Monday nights are reserved for Talk. Classmates share a 30 minute talk about their lives, what made them who they are today and what drives them forward. These talks can be really emotional and make you connect deeply to your classmates. Today, my friend and housemate Luis is giving his Talk.
I never used to run or work out much, but with this beautiful campus and all the sports facilities there really is no excuse. I start the day with a 9km run around the Dish, a Stanford landmark. The weather is so nice today, you can even see San Francisco from up here.
I am passionate about the future of the transportation industry, especially about self-driving cars. Thus, I started a new club at the GSB together with two friends, the “Future of Mobility Club”. Today, we are organizing a brown bag lunch with a GSB alum who works in the industry and shares some fascinating insights about the technology behind self-driving cars.
Last quarter, in the “Innovation Strategy and Operations” class by Stefanos Zenios, a few classmates and I worked on a value-chain disruption model in the whiskey market that radically shortens the time whiskey takes to age. Stefanos is creating an online version of the class and asked us to be interviewed for this. So today, we’re finding ourselves in front of three TV cameras. That’s a new experience!
Even though there are no GSB classes on Wednesdays, I use the afternoon to work on some upcoming assignments so that I won’t be pressed for time later in the week. With this beautiful view, the work gets done a lot easier.
Tonight, we’re organizing a dinner just for us housemates in our off-campus house. It’s great to hang out together because especially in the second year, people can have very different schedules so finding a time with all eight of us not always an easy task.
My girlfriend is back home in Germany and we have led an ultra-long-distance relationship for the past two years. This involved many flights to spend time with each other, even if it is just a few days. But equally important, we try to FaceTime as often as we can. The 9-hour time difference to Germany is actually okay: When I start my day in the morning, it is evening in Germany and she gets off work, so we both have time to speak without being disturbed by the hectic rush of the day.
First class this morning: Winning Writing. This class is taught by Glenn Kramon, long-time editor of the New York Times - several of “his” writers have won Pulitzer Prizes. Glenn teaches us effective, short, and simple writing. I'll let you judge whether I have mastered it! Today’s guest via video chat: Susanne Craig, who has just won a Pulitzer four days ago.
I am working on an independent research project with GSB Lecturer Rob Siegel. We are trying to understand how established car makers think about partnering with Silicon Valley tech firms when it comes to developing self-driving cars. I approached Rob with the idea, he liked it and became my advisor. I just love that you can pursue your own projects at the GSB! Today, I am interviewing someone at a Silicon Valley tech firm for my project. The great thing about Stanford is that all these companies are just around the corner. The access Stanford can provide is second-to-none.
Time for my favorite class, Systems Leadership. The class is taught by Rob Siegel and Jeff Immelt (yes, that Jeff Immelt, the former CEO of GE). We are learning about leadership in complex situations, e.g. when both your market and your technology are changing rapidly. Today’s guest is Katrina Lake, the CEO of Stitch Fix and the first woman to take a tech company to IPO in the Valley.
Tonight, a good friend of mine is celebrating her birthday on campus. We got to know each other through “Touchy Feely”, a legendary class at the GSB about giving and receiving personal feedback and building connections. I am grateful that the GSB experience is so centered on building human connections to other students. They are friends for life first, business partners second.