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.
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.
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.
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:
For those following this blog who are not familiar with the EMBA program, perhaps I should take a few seconds to explain what we are doing in Poland and why. As part of our “International Business Seminar,” we take an international trip to see up close how international businesses and multi-national companies operate. While we are here, we will also be given our own client for whom we will provide a report on how to improve their business. This part of the trip comes toward the end of the week. Before we get there, the goal is to learn as much as possible about how business is done in Poland.
References to the value of the U.S. dollar and other major foreign currencies by the financial news outlets have become as ubiquitous today as the stock price quotations of our most heavily traded companies. The value of our “greenback” has seemingly garnered even more attention in the past several months as analysts and pundits debate the impact of a rapidly rising U.S. dollar on corporate earnings. However, if you’re like most people, this information comes and goes and doesn’t really stimulate much further thought. Changes to the values of our currencies are much like the proverbial tree falling in the woods without witness – it happens, but if nobody cares does it really matter?
Sunday October 19th, 2014 11:35 PM
After spanning the globe for 15 hours in the air and traveling at speeds of over 700 MPH our Execuitve MBA cohort of 18 arrived in one of the world’s largest airports in Hong Kong. The group was a bit weary from the long trip but incredibly excited to be half way across the world in East Asia. We had just enough time to stretch out and make a few phone calls before getting ready for the last leg of our journey which would be touching down in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
My name is Shari Maxwell and I started the Online Executive MBA program in February of 2013. At the time, I was living in Hagerstown, MD, working as a Production Manager for Rust-Oleum. My background is in chemical engineering and I have 18 years of experience in manufacturing as a process engineer, process improvement leader, and several management positions. I recently moved to Baltimore after taking an Operations Manager position with WR Grace. The EMBA courses helped prepare me for my new role and have been using what I’ve learned since day one.
The EMBA opens doors for me in Prague!