Before RIT Executive MBA students depart on their international trip, they learn about the country in an International Business course through lectures, case studies, and group discussions. After arriving in country, the students continue learning from the leaders of companies representing a variety of industries. These visits often include operational tours, company presentations, and even live case studies to explore the challenges and opportunities facing firms in these countries.
I recently stumbled across a New York Times article I had saved from January of 2015 entitled: Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others. I had originally clipped it because of the importance of teamwork in our Executive MBA (EMBA) program—seventy-five percent of our courses include a team deliverable—and feedback from students suggests that working with others can be the most rewarding or the most maddening part of the EMBA experience.
When the EMBA trip was announced earlier in the year, it seemed so far away. I was thrilled that our class was going to Malaysia. I enjoy being out of my comfort zone and Malaysia seemed like just the ticket for this. Malaysia fit into my philosophy of “If you only do what you know, you will never be more than you are.” I quickly scrolled through pictures of Malaysia and spotted pictures of the Batu Caves, palm trees, monkeys and exotic foods. October 14th couldn’t come soon enough!
Day 1 - Sunday
Breakfast in Malaysia: “Don’t bother looking for the bacon.” Because Islam is the state religion, most restaurants don’t serve pork products which meant that most of us were eating beef “bacon” (aka hot beef jerky) for the first time with breakfast along with some other items such as chicken sausage. Breakfast at the hotel was complimentary and was designed to feed a variety of people from different cultures. Vegetarian foods, fried rice, curries, fresh fruit, pastries, waffles and baked beans were daily fare. Our group quickly learned the fried rice was amazing.
Though we had the date of the trip nearly a year in advance, the destination wasn’t announced until about 5 months in advance. So the anticipation for this year’s International trip location was high. The initial reaction to the announcement that we would be traveling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was met with some reservations, however, and the announcement spawned a number of discussions about physical safety, health concerns, and other topics.
We would spend a fair amount of time researching the country and KL itself, but as a class we had many unanswered questions: How developed is Malaysia? What form of government exists there? What role does religion play in business and society at large? After a little research and a case study centered on Malaysia, the discussion began to focus on the regional business environment and what we could learn from this experience. After nearly a year of case studies, response papers, and discussions, traveling half-way around the world to directly see how business operates in another culture, without relying on case studies and biased news stories, opened up lots of possibilities and the opportunity to enrich our courses, our careers, and the way we think about ourselves.
Having graduated from college with a BA in English Literature and Dance, and somehow finding myself in a career in sales, I had often toyed with the idea of going back to school to earn my MBA to ground some of the skills I’ve learned in practice in the classroom. Well, I finally bit the bullet and after a lot of research, a few application essays, and an interview, I found myself sitting in a lecture hall in Rochester at RIT’s Executive MBA orientation.
My name is Alan Jackson and I am a member of RIT’s Saunders College of Business Online Executive MBA Class 21. Our cohort attended orientation at RIT from August 10th through the 12th, 2016 in order to meet our new teammates face-to-face along with the great staff RIT has put together.
This fall will mark our 40th international trip for the RIT Executive MBA Program. The international trip is a required portion of the curriculum and coincides with International Business and Finance courses. In addition to visiting companies, and receiving presentations on country-specific topics as a group, there are cultural visits to key points of interest. There is also the consulting project in which individual teams of three-four students each visit and interview executives at selected companies to enable them to conduct and complete their respective team projects during the trip. Teams make contact with a specific company in –country ahead of time. They research that company and industry in preparation for their consulting project.
In the past, the majority of EMBA trips were to Prague, Czech Republic. We had an established relationship with VSE (Prague School of Economics) and the students raved about these trips. After 14 years of going to Prague, we took a trip to China and had a great experience. After a few trips to China, we started a more formal analysis to evaluate new location possibilities and determine where we could provide the best experience each year. Since 2012, our trips have included:
A few months ago, I blogged about Apple and its product commercialization efforts. Apple’s market capitalization, which was approaching $1 trillion just before I wrote the blog, reflected investors’ expectations that CEO Tim Cook would continue to exploit Apple’s innovation capabilities and introduce a steady stream of “WOW” new products. The hallmark of Apple’s strategy under Steve Jobs was the creation of new product categories such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Just as important was Apple’s creation of a digital eco-system including iTunes, apps on iPhone and iPad, and iOS.
Leadership lessons occur constantly in all sorts of situations. Serving on a board of a not-for-profit, coaching a little league team, or even planning the family reunion all involve leadership skills. A recent count of our executive MBA students showed that some 86% of them have a significant leadership role outside of work.