Program Blog

Eight days in South Africa

Posted by Jeff Davis on Dec 5, 2017 2:13:10 PM
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A distinctive cornerstone of the EMBA program at RIT, the international trip and consultancy project offers the opportunity to put learning into practice on a global stage. Prior to departure, students conducted relevant country, industry, and firm-specific research on the international and domestic companies located in and around Johannesburg, South Africa. Once in country, students had the experience of a lifetime.

Three separate EMBA classes conjoined for the trip (two online and one on-campus class) that would include visiting historical and cultural landmarks, visiting international business conglomerates, impactful non-profit organizations, and engaging with young entrepreneurs developing solutions for their own communities. 

"For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." - Nelson Mandela

Experiencing the culture and history of South Africa was powerful and emotionally charged, but gave students an informal perspective of the country’s economy and an understanding of how far the country has come in recent years. Students visited the Apartheid Museum and Kliptown, a diverse and poverty-stricken settlement in the suburbs of Soweto, to gain an understanding of the challenges and growth opportunities for communities in South Africa. Despite the high poverty and unemployment rates in South Africa, seeing first-hand the positive impact youth organizations have within the community to provide more opportunities for younger generations inspired hope among the group.

Nightlife in Johannesburg was alive and active, with students attending a live jazz performance in a local bistro or attending a futball game. Enjoying South African culture meant engaging with the local community!

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Getting down to business: economic and business climate of Johannesburg

Johannesburg is a hub of international business and the South African home to several international corporations. Our trip included visits to GE Africa, Johnson & Johnson, and JP Morgan. Presentations from management and open discussions provided students insights into the business climate and how it differs in a developing country. What can big brands teach us about localization? Brainstorming sessions at GE Africa and Aluwani, a non-governmental organization seeking to empower rural communities, offered new perspectives on adapting processes, resources and products for different cultures.

Learning from local entrepreneurs

Putting their education into practice, students had the opportunity to provide real feedback to young entrepreneurs. In a roundtable session, EMBA students became consultants to local community members to offer insights, perspective and guidance to the South Africa entrepreneurs to help expand their ideas and projects. It was rewarding to see how their EMBA program prepared the students for this opportunity, but to also provide meaningful assistance to entrepreneurs who reside halfway across the world.

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Local challenges

The trip culminated with the students’ consulting meetings with individual companies. What are the challenges the companies face and what opportunities are available? Students worked directly with the clients to identify problems and set expectations. The students then returned to the U.S. to fully develop solutions before creating a report outlining recommendations for their international partner.

“The trip to me meant so much more than anything else I’ve experienced through the last fourteen months. Of course, there were many important parts of the program that were valuable to me and my future. However, I believe this trip was the turning point I was searching for to get me to the next level of what I would like to do after school.  I am in admiration of your work and the lives you have changed through this program, building and developing leaders for the future.

-Ruel Maloco, On-campus class XXIV

The international trip provides not only a global perspective, but also the experience of a lifetime. Countless students remark at how the trip transforms their worldview and perspectives, and they are better suited to tackle challenges in their workplace.

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Read more about past trips and how the international locales are selected.

Inquire today to learn more about the program.

Topics: international, global