On a blustery January morning, the newest online RIT Executive MBA Class 24 gathered to kick off their education journey. Welcome to the online EMBA residency – a three-day knowledge-filled, skills-gathering affair designed to propel students into the program with intention and enthusiasm.
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.
My name is Alex Cashman-Rolls. I currently serve as one of the directors of an emerging international nonprofit, RAKlife, which is based in California. Prior to this, I spent 11 years serving in various operations leadership positions in the mortgage banking industry. I have become convinced that of all the purposes a business can have, the very best purpose is to drive the prosperity of a community.
My name is Jennifer Telitz and I’m in the broadcast media industry. I’ve been a leader in my industry heading up business development and managing campaign execution for 20 years. The last 16 years have been in the San Diego market.
Going back to school to get my MBA has been on my to-do list for a long time. 2017 is the year I’m crossing it off my list, and I’m now officially part of RIT’s EMBA online class 23!
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.