Financial advisor travels to China to study artificial intelligence

Local financial advisor, Kristina Gaalaas, recently went on a study-abroad trip with the College of St. Scholastica for the Business Leader Training in China 2019 on April 5-19. Pursuing her Master of Business Administration (MBA), Gaalaas researched artificial intelligence in China for her final thesis, “China and AI: The Balance of Change, Contradiction, and Relationship.”

Gaalaas has been working with Edward Jones, a financial services leader, since 2004. As a financial advisor, she appreciates how she works with her clients to establish financial goals that are important to them, and achieve them. Gaalaas graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, and a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing. Her professional designations include Certified Financial Planner®, Accredited Asset Management Specialist, plus a number of other accreditations. But the lifelong learner craved more.

“I was a first generation four-year college graduate in my family, and I was proud of what I had accomplished. Everything that I learned and experiences I had shared were things that could not be taken away,” Gaalaas commented. “And I knew shortly after graduating, that I wanted to pursue an MBA.”

In the Fall of 2017, Gaalaas began courses for her Master of Business Administration in Leadership & Change at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. It was with this program that she was accepted to study overseas in China and Hong Kong. Over two weeks, she participated in numerous cultural tours, sat in on lectures at universities, toured Chinese companies, met business leaders and analysts, and much more.

Gaalaas arrived in Beijing, China, on April 7 along with 10 other students and two faculty members. The next two weeks would be jam-packed with activities. The group went on guided tours of many iconic locations including the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall of China, Olympic Forest Park, and the Shanghai Art Museum.

The group also sat in on numerous lectures about a variety of topics. Students learned about Chinese history and culture, an introduction to Chinese medicine, marketing in China, China and the global economy, and Chinese language, and calligraphy. Many other activities and tours happened over the two week trip. Gaalaas was able to gain knowledge in real-time with these experiences for her research regarding AI in China.

“I really wanted to take a topic that was timely, relevant, complex, and heavy,” Gaalaas said.

In her research, Gaalaas considered incorporating a yin yang view of AI and technology in the global economy today.

An excerpt from her abstract stated: “An ancient, indigenous Chinese yin yang balancing perspective could offer a dialectic framework for leaders to discover a new understanding of three key principles: change, contradiction, and relationship,” Gaalaas wrote. “Regardless, each civilization would bring its own narrative to the future, and it may not be the ideal balance of intercultural cooperation between human and machine minds for the survival of all.”

Following her excursion, Gaalaas has had time to reflect on her travels and experiences. As a mother, Gaalaas hopes to be an example for her children, as well as others who have considered academic pursuits in life.

“My kids were at the graduation ceremony and they got to see what may be possible for them someday. I hope to be an inspiration to others who have considered going back to college, or studying overseas,” Gaalaas said. “If a working, busy mom of littles can do this, well, so can anyone.”

Gaalaas plans to continue working as a financial planner and commented, “I feel like I lead my clients, and positively impact their lives and the security and comfort that they have with their money, as their partner, consultant, teacher, and guide.”

Looking ahead, Gaalaas plans to continue learning, to bring her best work to what she does, teaching, and exploring the world.

“I love to travel. I think I’ve been to 20 countries now, so traveling is in my blood. And I’ll want to continue to expose my children to the world and language and culture in as many ways as I can. And be an advocate to help develop future leaders in this ever-changing world.”


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