The Power Of The MBA China Trip

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Early and often in my Indiana University Kelley School of Business Evening MBA courses, I heard of the opportunity to take a class that included a trip abroad. This was described as a unique experience that would not be available anywhere after graduating because of the access into foreign companies for high level meetings and an actual consulting project for their firm. I told myself I needed to find a way to participate in one of these trips. I am so thankful I made that hope into a reality by taking D546 “China in Transition” and traveling through China in July, 2013.

The course, led by the Professor of International Strategic Management, Marjorie Lyles, benefited from her years of experience on the ground in China, her contacts with corporate leaders there, and the numerous expert speakers she brought to us during the pre-trip classes. Being able to study the entire culture, macroeconomic conditions, current events, and our specific industry and company before departure provided insightful perspectives when consulting the client firm.

Our trip highlights included about a week in Beijing: with a few days at top cultural sites like The Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and The Forbidden City [photo included]; and several days in small group meetings with top executives at technology, banking, legal, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and consulting firms, as well as, government officials; and immersion into the local food via numerous delicious meals beyond my expectations!

The over ten days in Guangzhou included: a few days of tourism activities with a night cruise on the river, tours of the city, and several shopping opportunities; an intense program, sponsored by the City University of Hong Kong MBA, of directly interviewing company executives at our client firm using language interpreters to translate the conversations; and the creation and presentation of a professional project recommending improvements to their quality management across the organization in front of an audience of company executives at Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical. The final day in Hong Kong taking in the views and leisure was a perfect culmination for the hard work and long days that were completed!

While this course was a huge investment of time, effort, and money, it is definitely a top highlight of my MBA career that jumps off the page of any resume or cover letter I write. Because of the scholarship/fellowship available, the final costs were reasonable and were primarily the travel expenses. I would recommend making one of these MBA trips abroad to anyone interested in strengthening their MBA with international business, building their professional portfolio, and/or wanting to maximize the resources of the Kelley School of Business while still a student. So, study hard, travel safe, and have fun!