Travelling to foreign climes is all part of the fun of doing an MBA, and in 2012 it seems that b-schools are clocking up airmiles like its going out of fashion!
Trips abroad are perfect for class bonding, increasing cultural awareness, gaining local knowledge, finding career opportunities and generally letting off steam. Trips are even known as "treks" at some b-schools to indicate how gruelling some of these excursions can be. Hmmmm we don't think climbing the Himalayas is quite the same as having iced coffee with a VC investor in San Francisco, but hey.
A few business schools have made these trips an integral part of the study programme while some MBAs have found travel opportunities through internships, project work or even business plan competitions.
We asked MBAs from Cranfield School of Management, ESSEC Business School, Lancaster University Management School and Nanyang Business School about their favourite trips abroad this year. The list was impressive, with students touching down in Russia, China, Germany, India, Tanzania, South Africa, and the USA. Hot spots Singapore, Bangkok and Las Vegas also made the list!
Doing business at the heartbeat of the emerging world
Lancaster and Cranfield MBAs headed to China as part of their MBA programmes. Lancaster's International Business in Context module and Cranfield's International Business Experience module both included a trip abroad. Lancaster gave students the chance to study for the module at a partner university in either China or the Czech Republic.
Canadian student Jeff Mackenzie was one of the Lancaster MBAs who chose to experience the business environment in China. He studied at Lingnan University in Guangzhou and said it was the high point of his MBA. He said: “I chose to go to China which turned out to be one of the most valuable educational experiences of my life. I would recommend to any prospective student thinking about joining the Lancaster MBA to take advantage of some of the international opportunities that you will be given. My experiences... made me realize the importance of becoming more globally and culturally aware if you want to succeed in the business world."
Guangzhou at night
Jeff also spent time in at Germany's WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management, where he studied the changing environment of international business in Europe, an exciting and globally relevant topic. He obviously made an impression - Jeff was voted 'MBA Student Of The Year' by his classmates!
As hot as China is right now, many people recognize that other emerging countries are also teeming with businesss opportunity
Cranfield MBAs were lucky enough to visit 15 countries this year as part of the International Business Experience module. Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cuba, Ghana, Japan, Kenya, Mexcio, the Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, the USA and Vietnam.
New Zealander Vivian Ho had a particularly interesting trip to Tanzania this the year. She and a team of students worked with three local companies to help them switch to more sustainable sources of energy, such as replacing basic charcoal stoves with ones that run on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), which is greener and more efficient.
Highlights of Tanzania are safari tours, beautiful beaches, and of course Mount Kilimanjaro
USA, Canada, India and Thailand
You haven’t done a business plan competition until you’ve doing one in a cool place!
Students on the Nanyang MBA have a thing for entering business plan competitions, influenced by the school's Professor Vijay Sethi, who teaches the New Venture Practicum and encourages his students to enter as many competitions as they can.
Over the course of the year, the MBA class of 2012 competed in the John Molson Business Competition in Montreal, Canada, the International Case Competition on the Strategic Value of IT in Management at CA World in Las Vegas, The Asia Venture Challenge in Bangkok, Thailand and the regional Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) in Hyderabad, India. Over the summer, the MBAs also headed to Texas to compete in the Venture Labs Investment Competition at the University of Texas at Austin!
There are lots of photos of Nanyang MBAs huddled over cases and receiving trophies. What we haven’t seen are photos of them partying like it’s the end of the world. We guess what happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas!
Singapore, Russia, Germany, and South Africa
Some business schools make it a point to rack up air miles and credit in cultural awareness!
The ESSEC Business School Global MBA is an opportunity to travel around the world. We spoke to recent graduate Lesley Green who filled us in on where she went during the year, and got her recommendations on what visiting MBAs should do in each place. Not one to moan about jet lag, Lesley visited Singapore, Russia, Germany, South Africa, Thailand and Morocco during her MBA year!
Lesley and her classmates spent five and a half weeks at ESSEC’s Singapore campus where they took classes in Chinese negotiation and learned about the nuances of doing business in Asia. They also got an exclusive tour of the Marina Bay Louis Vuitton boutique, situated on its own island in the harbor.
Lesley recommends: visiting Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. “There is a huge ship at the top of the hotel and it has the best view of the city. You can see the water all the way to Indonesia”, she says
The MBA class also spent eight days in St. Petersburg and Moscow learning about Russia's business environment. They made a company visit to BMW.
Lesley recommends The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, which she compared to Versailles in Paris. She also mentioned the boat tour and making sure to appreciate the beautiful metro station.
Lesley then went on exchange to Mannheim Business School in Germany. The focus for that exchange trip was a programme on leadership. She noted some cultural differences when it came to classroom participation: the Germans were more direct while the French were more laissez-faire.
Lesley recommends eating at the restaurant at the top of the spinning Mannheim TV tower.
Lesley also was part of a team of four who went to South Africa for their final project. They worked at an environmentally friendly winery on the Western Cape. The project was a chance to apply everything they learned on the MBA. At the winery they worked on portfolio analysis, supply chain optimisation and branding.
Lesley recommends South Africa for its very relaxed environment. They travelled all around the Cape, and had a two day Safari where they had a close encounter with a Buffalo. They saw a penguin colony and of course, the magnificent Table Mountain. They also did a lot of winery tours to see what types of grapes made the different wines.
In total, Lesley clocked over 80,000 air miles in the last year! She also spent a weekend in Thailand, visited Morocco and a few other European countries.
Exchanges, treks, study tours and conferences: MBA programmes offer a variety of opportunities to see the world. And after you graduate you can be sure you'll get regular calls from your classmates to arrange vacations in the likes of Ibiza and Koh Samui. Here's to a great year of travels in 2013!