If there’s one word that describes the world in the last two decades – the better part of my adult life – the first word that comes to my mind is Global. It’s the perfect accompaniment to anything business; as fries (or chips) are to fast food. Without global, any conversation of intellectuals in the business world is insipid and lackluster. The most expensive and exclusive gathering of world leaders and businessmen at World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos each year is a monument to the importance of this word in today’s vocabulary. But as with anything exclusive that gains popularity loses its appeal, ‘Global’ has been reduced to a common adjective in any and every context. So, when I was considering an MBA education and first heard of the EMBA-Global Americas & Europe program, my first thought was that this burger also came with fries.

Nonetheless, I chose the program for a) its class schedule – majority of classes take place in block week format, b) the expanded faculty and course choices at London Business School and Columbia Business School (the Asia stream of EMBA-Global includes HKU, Hong Kong in addition to LBS and CBS), and c) the ability to take electives in New York, London, Dubai and Hong Kong.

Eleven months later, just finishing the core curriculum I’ve now realized why applying to this specific program was the best decision of my life. While in block weeks, all sixty nine of us stay, eat, study and play together as a tight knit family. Everyone is genuinely overjoyed to see each other after the gap of a month and we profoundly miss each others’ company. Coming to the end of core has been a bitter-sweet moment, as won’t come together again as a class next until graduation. Neither do we all live in the same city to meet casually for a Sunday morning to catch-up over brunch. Being Global has its disadvantages too. But given the choice I’d choose EMBA-Global over any other; not least for two reasons:

Global means not only people who’re from all over the globe but also live all over the globe

Living in New York (well across the river from Manhattan in New Jersey), I could’ve easily applied for any of Columbia Business School’s programs. There’s the Friday/Saturday EMBA course – the equivalent of which exists at London Business School as well. Also, London and New York being two of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, I have no doubt my cohort would consist of people from all backgrounds and nationalities. But the reality is that they would still all live in London or New York if they were to show up for school every other weekend. My EMBA-Global class probably has the same diversity, if not more, except that these folks live in and travel from all over the world to attend classes. I have classmates traveling from as far as Johannesburg, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Moscow and Wellington (NZ) each month to attend classes in London and New York. We don’t discuss global issues – we discuss local issues from every person from around the globe. That’s a crucial difference, one that separates mere knowledge of the globe and a deep understanding of it. For what it’s worth, it’s like having our own WEF each month in London and New York.

A worldwide network of close friends in every major city in the world

One must differentiate between a diverse network and a global network to grasp the importance of this one. A diverse network that most business schools and programs foster brings together people from a myriad professions, educational backgrounds and cultures. The EMBA Global network is all that plus the added benefit of a diaspora of ‘Globals’ (as we are aptly referred to). Once you’re part of this elite club, you’ve got close friends in every major city in the world, on the ground, in the trenches for anything you need. Your scope widens and you start to think truly global. From a farming startup in Senegal funded from the US to moving from Paris to San Francisco for a new job to a founding a healthcare company in the Caucuses through expertise from the US to expanding a Dubai based education business worldwide – all from connections made in just our class – this program has opened doors for us that have far surpassed any of our wildest imaginations.

My own story is that I’ve recently launched a hotel booking startup with a classmate – we have offices in New York and Rotterdam, our development office in Latvia and we will likely pilot with a hotel in Portugal soon. I came in to this program thinking I knew what I wanted to do – get a decent MBA, learn new skills and grow my network to excel and advance in my employment. I jettisoned that idea somewhere along Term 1, as soon as I embraced the EMBA-Global community. I became the career representative for the class, doing my bit to help every one of us achieve whatever goals we set out for ourselves. I know I’m going to end up on a far different trajectory than I originally allowed myself to dream. This program catapulted my thinking, my skills and my potential light years ahead. Arguably that’s in part due to the superior institutions that I’m part of including the award winning faculty and the vast resources available to us, but I’m convinced that the success of EMBA-Global is more in part to the ‘Global’ than the EMBA.

After all, have you ever tried having a burger without fries?

5 Responses to “What does ‘Global’ in EMBA-Global really mean?”

  1. avatar Daniel says:

    It’s high time anyone said that! We must start to think globally and as an unit. Most people don’t look much further than their noses.

    • avatar Vikram Pradhan says:

      Hi Daniel, thanks. What you say is true. One beneficial consequence of that would also be a singular force for global good

  2. avatar free coupons says:

    it’s really sad to see this world thinking in a wrong way, we must make the change

  3. avatar Jim Simmers says:

    ‘Global’ definitely puts excitement in a business education! I love what you said, that getting together for classes in London or New York meant not discussing global issues after all, but talking about the places everyone came from and thus obtaining a more full, clear picture of business on a world scale.

    • avatar Vikram Pradhan says:

      Thanks Jim. It is ever more important to get this perspective as you said and I’m lucky to have met so many wonderful people from around the world on the way as well.