With the world’s fastest-growing economy, China was the perfect destination for Scheller College Full-time and Evening MBAs participating in the 2019 International Practicum course. The International Practicum is one of the MBA Program’s most popular electives, designed to facilitate a semester-long client project between international organizations and MBA student consultants. Students correspond with their clients all semester and travel to their countries over spring break for presentation meetings and cross-cultural exploration.
We learned how to develop business relationships outside of conference rooms and over meals.
This March, instructor Bing Zeng (MBA 2002) took a class of Full-time and Evening MBA students around the world for a week in Beijing. Client companies included renewable energy company Lenovo, Hanergy, Gehua New Century Hotel, the High Speed Rail Lab, and KidSmile. The visit provided an immersive experience about conducting business in China, as project teams visited each other’s companies and learned from each other’s presentations. Despite facing the challenges of a new environment, Full-time MBA candidate Sebastien Fauchet was able to rely on his core curriculum skills as he worked on his project with Hanergy. “I utilized my diagnosis and storytelling skills from my core strategy course,” he noted. “This was extremely useful in understanding not only what the true problem was, but also how a solution would look like given their culture and fit.”
Beyond the formal business visits, the itinerary was full of fun excursions to provide students with a better understanding and appreciation of Chinese history and culture. Full-time MBA student Hailey Eichner’s highlight was the Great Wall. “The Great Wall is such a marvel, so it was amazing to actually be able to walk it,” she reflected. “People always talk about how long it is and how you can see it from space, but no one talks about how steep it is!” Other activities included an acrobatic show, a visit to the Forbidden City, the Bird’s Nest stadium from the 2008 Olympics, a local market visit in Tianjin, and a dumpling making class.
In pursuit of globally-minded leadership, the Scheller MBA program requires an international elective for all students, and the international residency provides a distinct sense of cultural nuances. As noted by Full-time MBA student Michael Behrens, “We learned how to develop business relationships outside of conference rooms and over meals. We also learned the importance of accepting things with two hands. Outside of our project, we sought out locals to play basketball with and learned their rules for the game.” From the conference rooms and corporate offices to the Great Wall and the Beijing basketball court, this year’s International Practicum in China provided valuable business insights as well as a unique appreciation for the world’s diversity.