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The Advantages Of An MBA Exchange Program At Business School

From Australia to Italy, Smriti Agarwal made the most of her AGSM MBA exchange program

Nepal, London, Germany, India, the US, and the UAE—Smriti Agarwal has lived in some of the most exciting countries in the world. She’s currently at AGSM @ UNSW Business School in Australia and has just returned from an MBA exchange program in Italy.

A budding financial analyst passionate about social enterprise, Smriti has built up a strong career portfolio with the likes of Ford, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia within just five years.

Smriti decided to pursue a Full-Time MBA to develop her leadership skills and chose the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the University of New South Wales Business School.

The international exchange opportunities offered on the 16 months MBA program took Smriti to Italy for three months, where she studied with AGSM’s partner school SDA Bocconi School of Management.

SDA Bocconi School of Management is also well-connected with industry leaders and gave Smriti the chance to attend a speaker series with company executives, from firms such as Prada, Gucci, and Procter & Gamble.

Each exchange semester is divided into two blocks of six weeks. Students study two to five courses per block. Each block is focused on a certain specialization, be it Banking and Finance, Marketing and Strategy, or Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

AGSM exchange students receive full credit for studying abroad and can select partner schools in Asia, Europe, the United Kingdom, North America, and South America. 

What are the advantages of an MBA exchange program at business school? BusinessBecause caught up with Smriti to find out more.

What is your main takeaway from the AGSM MBA exchange?

Most organizations these days are deeply focused on diversity and inclusion because they realize that the best results are driven by teams with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. 

The exchange program is an opportunity to indulge in another culture, a new lifestyle, and a different educational system—all of which helps you build a more accepting and friendly view towards others different from yourself.

We must respect and accept each other’s differences, not only when we visit a new country but also in our workplace.

What were you taught during the MBA exchange?

I did several finance courses at SDA Bocconi, and my favorite course was Investment Banking, which was co-taught by professor of Finance, Valter Lazzari, and partner at Goldman Sachs Italy, Massimo Della Ragione.

When I say co-taught, I mean literally both these instructors going back and forth on the same topic and expressing their views. One from a theoretical point and another from a practical point, based on how it played out in one of Goldman Sachs’s past transactions.

To see both these instructors expressing their sometimes very different views and often times challenging one another’s perspectives was so refreshing and engaging.

It made me realize there is no one right answer and learning is a constant process of iterating and challenging current beliefs. 

What was your day-to-day experience like studying abroad?

My day began with a strong Italian coffee from a nearby café and in the afternoon, I usually spent some time with my study groups brainstorming ideas for group projects or doing a little self-study to prepare for the next day’s classes.

The day ended with an Aperitivo (similar to a happy hour that happens every day in most bars/cafes in Italy) or a walk along the gorgeous canal in Milan.

Bocconi student clubs organize several speaker series with industry leaders, mostly in the afternoons, and these are very enjoyable as well. Weekends mostly involved travelling in and around Italy.

How will the MBA exchange experience help your career?

Today’s business environment is not segregated anymore. Most businesses have operations and customers across multiple countries and so, business professionals who wish to grow successfully in their career must understand the international business landscape.

This experience has reinforced my belief in gaining international perspective and challenging myself, by leaving my comfort zone and completely immersing myself in a new country, culture, and education.

My career goal is to constantly learn and grow and someday be an influential leader in an impactful global organization. I now understand the business landscape not only in Australia but also in Europe, all thanks to the AGSM exchange opportunity.

There’s plenty of advantages to doing an MBA exchange program at business school.

AGSM partners with over 100 of the world’s leading graduate schools for its MBA exchange program, offering short-term, intensive programs and traditional full semester exchanges.

AGSM is also the only Australian business school with membership to the Global Networking of Advanced Management (GNAM) network of the world’s elite business schools, helpful for MBA students looking to gain an international perspective.