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EMBA Buzzing about International Trips and Essential Global Leadership Lessons

EMBA Buzzing about International Trips and Essential Global Leadership Lessons

Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business’s Global Business Executive MBA continues to succeed in expanding students’ global leadership knowledge and expertise. Among the many factors contributing to this success are the powerful curriculum; the capstone project (in which students apply their knowledge and work directly with a company on a real-time business problem); and, of course, exclusive hands-on international experiences.

The EMBA Class of 2017 headed to China for their first international trip in the spring of 2017. In September 2017, the students headed to Panama to visit the Panama Canal and Georgia Tech’s Logistics Innovation and Research Center. They also met with alumni and business leaders to get an inside look on business operations.

As a Global IT Director at The Coca-Cola Company, Fard Pasha had the opportunity to join his Coca-Cola colleagues from around the world for Coca-Cola’s supply chain leader development program, which was organized by Scheller College’s Huang Executive Education Center. The experience made him realize that, to advance as a global leader, he needed to gain a better overall understanding of all aspects of global business. Pasha applied to the Global EMBA program as the perfect vehicle to enhance his international business acumen.

With an undergraduate degree in engineering and as a Senior Product Manager for Advanced Medical Solutions, Kara Mayo was nervous about getting an MBA. However, the significant advantages of Scheller’s EMBA program with a balance of global business, innovation, and technology resources, addressed and quelled her concerns. Mayo’s decision to attend Scheller College was also spurred by her VP and Business Unit Director of Global Branded Products, Jeff Willis (MBA MOT 2001) who strongly recommended the program.

Pasha and Mayo quickly experienced the benefits of the Scheller EMBA program, reaffirming their decision to select Scheller College. Along with their classmates, Pasha and Mayo gained invaluable business insights and working knowledge from Scheller’s blended learning approach (case studies, experiential learning, peer-to-peer resources, lectures, and team activities) and applied learning projects. These exercises prepared the entire class to take full advantage of the access to global leaders and the unique experiences presented to them during their visit to Panama. Moreover, they observed that six skills and/or attributes emerged as key differentiators for the successful global leaders with whom they interacted.

Gaining New Skills

Strategic Perspective.  The executives with whom the EMBA’s met, including Pedro Heilbron, Chief Executive Officer of Copa Airlines, had a passion for, and clear view of, the future of their business. Heilbron’s deep industry and cultural knowledge enabled him (i) to successfully anticipate market and economic trends and (ii) to translate his organization’s broad strategy into meaningful goals and objectives. Seventy years ago, Panama’s national airline started as a domestic carrier serving two cities in Panama. With key strategic leadership from Heilbron and others, the airline has since grown into a highly successful international airline and one of Panama’s fastest growing companies, which is recognized as the best airline of Central America and the Caribbean by Skytrax’s World Airline Awards.

Integration of Innovation and Technology. Centered in Tech Square, Scheller College is surrounded by innovation and technology, which is integrated into the entire culture of the University. EMBA students clearly understand that if they are to succeed as global leaders in a highly competitive global market, they must continue to innovate as they address challenges and recognize opportunities. The presenters in Panama also excelled in innovation and technology and were willing to take risks to capitalize on unrealized potential. Heilbron drives a culture of innovation at Copa Airlines with a modern fleet of aircraft, a state of the art aircraft maintenance center, and a customer focused mobile app all aimed to make air travel cost-effective, safe, and stress-free. The class also had the rare opportunity to tour the newly-expanded Panama Canal with the Minister of Canal Affairs and Director General of Panama Metro, Roberto Roy BSIE 1985. As one of the modern wonders of the world, the newly expanded Canal boasts innovation in engineering, technology, and sustainability.

Cultural Awareness. Success in a global business setting requires leaders to be accustomed to, and at ease in, different countries and diverse cultures. Pasha’s and Mayo’s positions require international travel, and both were struck with the ease in which Dean Maryam Alavi and all the C-level executives in Panama interacted with each other and the class. It supported the importance of learning about cultures before and during travel, respecting cultural differences, and keeping an open mind to be prepared for changes in strategy, markets, business models, people, and geography.

Core Values. Global leaders must understand their customers and serve as trusted partners in attaining their customers’ needs and objectives. José Manuel Bern BCE 1995, Executive VP, Empresas Bern imparted the equal importance of leaders staying true to the core values of their businesses. The latest trend for many hotels in Panama City is to add a casino. However, Bern’s organization decided to remain loyal to its mission and iconic brand of their InterContinental property.

Corporate Social Responsibility. The executives and alumni in Panama also valued developing highly engaged teams committed to social responsibility. As global leaders themselves, the EMBA students were excited to volunteer their time to connect with a local elementary school. The experience included donating funds to the school, collaborating on a mural painting, and even playing basketball with the students. Mayo was particularly touched when the school band serenaded her class to thank them for the donation, which allowed the band to purchase uniforms enabling it to participate in competitions. This experience resulted in personal growth for the EMBA students while serving as a catalyst for the growth and success of others. For Mayo, this experience reinforced her commitment to “continue to develop her team at work as well as engage with and assist younger generations in the community.”

Powerful Network.  Originally, Mayo had planned to focus on her studies without getting involved with her classmates. However, her classmates quickly became an incredible network of friends and advisors. During the program, Mayo received a promotion and hired her first of many direct reports. Several of her classmates who already led large global teams provided Mayo invaluable insights to help her succeed in her newly expanded role. Pasha also expressed the importance of this network of classmates as he “learned from everyone in the class regardless of seniority within their company or years of experience.”


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