Whether you are in Thomas Friedman’s corner walking on a pretty flat earth, or jumping obstacles with Pankaj Ghemawat on a bumpy and curvy one, there is one thing that that is certain; globalization is here and understanding it is more important than ever!
One of the most appealing aspects of London Business School and The Executive MBA is the focus they have on teaching and experiencing international business. Having returned from my third (and hopefully not final) international assignment it’s a great time to share a bit about what has been experienced.
At the end of year one, students are required to select an international elective from a portfolio of options; for many people this marks the end of the year one core learning. I selected to go to Argentina and also had the opportunity to sign up for an optional additional destination for which I selected Moscow. These trips have a specific purpose – to develop an understanding of the regional economy and get to grips with what challenges business faces in the specific region.
After landing in a chilly Moscow during early April I teamed up with students from our Dubai stream to work on a Big Data project for MTS, the biggest mobile operator in Russia. Unfortunately at the time, the decline in oil prices had already started to impact the ruble but rather than being in crisis mode it seemed people were ready to navigate the new realities being presented with a sense of perseverance. After all it was in 1998 that Russia went through a major financial crisis after defaulting on its domestic debt and so economic challenges were nothing new here.
A single week working in Moscow is short; especially when you are trying to get an understanding of a country that spans nine time zones. However it is just long enough to start understanding the business culture and the unique regional challenges. Furthermore, it was super interesting to explore the possibilities of Big Data for telecom operators and an honor to be able to present our strategic recommendations back to the company.
Coincidentally the Argentina assignment was the week following Moscow and so after a quick pit stop at Heathrow to pick up some more London classmates it was off to Buenos Aires. The scope of this assignment was very different; rather than working on a project for a specific company, we spent time visiting a local business school and a number of companies to get an insight into what drives the economic environment.
Argentina has a very colorful economic history and it’s definitely worth going to learn first hand. It was amazing to see how the history of Peron and the economic rollercoaster was deeply the engrained in peoples thoughts and how creative businesses had become to tackle todays deeply volatile economic environment. Kudos to LBS for providing the introductions to a number of great companies such as Globant, Clarin, YPF and many others. When reflecting on Argentina, it would also be wrong not to mention how AMAZING the steak is out there – its worth a trip back just for this!
The latest trip to Dubai was for an elective on “Thinking Strategically”. The course is also offered in London but if you can afford the time I thought why not make the most of escaping the UK winter and experience the Dubai campus and culture. Because the class was mostly made up from my Middle East colleagues, you naturally get an insight into the business environment and culture.
Throughout all the trips there is really a great opportunity to expand your learning and get an experience that you simply can’t get by staying in the classroom….. now I’m just looking forward to the next one….