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Dubai Diaries: Georgia Tech Scheller Executive MBA Students Reflect on Their International Residency in the Middle East

Three Georgia Tech Scheller Executive MBA students reflect on their international residency trip to Dubai.
Executive MBA students participated in company visits, speakers, and cultural activities over the course of 12 days during their international residency in Dubai.

Executive MBA students participated in company visits, speakers, and cultural activities over the course of 12 days during their international residency in Dubai.

Earlier in the semester, the Georgia Tech Scheller Executive MBA (EMBA) program traveled to the Middle East as a part of its Analysis of Global Environments course. The international residency opportunity is designed to provide exposure to how business is conducted in another part of the world. We caught up with three EMBA students to hear about what they learned and their most memorable experiences.

Christine Bartle
Executive MBA - Management of Technology ‘21
Director, CVS Health

A student standing at a podium“An international curriculum and focus is central to the strategic value of the EMBA program. In light of the pandemic, there have been many challenges and questions, including where the international residency would take place. While China was originally planned, circumstances changed and brought the class to a new frontier at the epicenter of the Middle East, Dubai. The experience taught the Class of 2021 about the international hub of the Middle East and Northern African region. 

Georgia Tech delivered a well-rounded curriculum, including visiting the largest logistics supplier Dubai South, learning about the financial markets that drive profitability and access to capital at Nasdaq, and envisioning the future of healthcare technology at Okadoc. The content and speakers were diverse and shared unique perspectives.

An Executive MBA student in DubaiWhile traveling halfway around the world, bonds were made that can never be broken. Experiences cemented business and personal relationships and our class thrived off of one another's energy. Through the cultural experiences we shared together, whether in the Grand Mosque, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, or on a yacht cruise across luminous waters, each student gained a more global view, together. The Georgia Tech EMBA is a world-class program, granting access to education, experience, and an entirely new perspective to drive the leaders of today and the future.”

Natasha Clark
Executive MBA - Global Business ‘21
Environmental Health Safety & Security Manager, Michelin

A student stands in Dubai with buildings behind them“From the moment I arrived in Dubai, I embarked on an educational and cultural journey. This was my second time visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but I was astounded by all that I discovered. Although we are 7,200 miles apart, UAE businesses are experiencing similar challenges and opportunities. The business and cultural speakers were candid and welcomed tough questions. My inquisitive cohort gained a deeper understanding of current and future business context. 

Additionally, this trip strengthened the bond between classmates. A fundamental takeaway from our EMBA program is "Jackets Help Jackets," and the trip solidified this sentiment. On a side note, although I am not a foodie, I was able to enjoy the local cuisine. Surprisingly, I stumbled on a local restaurant down the street from our hotel that became my hidden gem.

I have already utilized some learnings from my trip! After one of our panel discussions, I was able to gain some entrepreneurial advice for my budding endeavor from one of our speakers. This experience has helped to shape my understanding of how to apply business strategies in a global setting. The focus on sustainability and industry trends by some of the presenters was appreciated as my current role is as an environmental, health, and safety manager. As the world increases its ambition to be better stewards of our environment, some of the companies demonstrated how they hope to meet this objective.  

A group of students standing on the sand dunes in DubaiThe most powerful moment of the trip was a once in a lifetime experience combined with a moment of reflection. I was able to watch the sunrise at the top of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. The sunrise is known to symbolize new beginnings. As I reflected on the learnings, experiences, challenges, and sacrifices during my EMBA experience, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy about the opportunities that will materialize once I complete the program.”

Nikkela Tucker
Executive MBA - Management of Technology ‘21
Director, Strategic Payer Partnerships, Walmart

A student takes a selfie in Dubai"Amazing is simply an understatement to describe my time on the international residency. To see the vast growth and development of a city that is shy of its 50th anniversary, learn in-depth history, experience the culture, taste a variety of delicious foods, explore the tallest buildings in the world, listen to panel discussions from a variety of business leaders, as well as go to Abu Dhabi to visit the Mosque and the Louvre, was an experience of a lifetime.

You are trained during your EMBA experience to understand the culture and customs of a given country. Learning and knowing the history of a country is important when seeking to solve a business problem. When you are able to have a holistic understanding of the potential issue and how to appropriately seek resolution, you can become a partner in solving the problem. Our experiences in Dubai provided a results-oriented, customer centric, best in class spirit that demonstrated how you can learn from mistakes in the past and of others to create a small but mighty city that can be an example for the rest of the world.  

A student sits in front of a sign that says Expo 2020In addition to meeting with top executives from local businesses and international businesses who have offices in Dubai, we also got a chance to go to Expo 2020, which afforded us the opportunity to learn more about what other countries are doing in regards to technology and sustainability enhancements.

The icing on the cake was the time we were able to spend strengthening the bond with our classmates, which made the trip even more special. In the words of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, I learned, “A true leader turns a dream or an idea into reality and vision into action. History has no place for dreamers.”

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