Stephanie Simon, MBA’19
For most Kelleys, the MBA is not complete without a global component. Learning abroad and doing business with other cultures was high on my to-do list when I came to Bloomington. One of the things that makes Kelley special is the GLOBASE (Global Business and Social Enterprise) program. It’s a global consulting experience that involves 7 weeks of in-class preparation and group work with a client before a week-long in-country experience over spring break. While it’s mostly first-year MBAs (and some School of Public and Environmental Affairs graduate students) who participate, second-year students can develop their leadership skills by leading the trips and managing the consulting teams.
This year I participated in the first-ever GLOBASE China trip. Our team of five students was paired up with a hotel in Yunnan province, a beautiful region in rural, southwestern China. Our client, an American ex-pat, has built a successful business thus far. He’s very committed to showcasing local Chinese culture, and he’s done it in a way that has enabled the local community to prosper. His goal is to expand to more locations across China, and he needed a marketing plan. Enter our project. Each week we had late-night calls (gotta love the 13-hour time difference!) with him and his team to better understand their value proposition and challenges. Then we would go to work researching, analyzing data, researching, conducting interviews, and researching some more.
We landed in China with a skeleton plan of our recommendations, but our firsthand experience allowed us to flesh out our project in a way that made it more meaningful and tactical for our client. Talking with different staff, brainstorming with them and watching them work were crucial to our recommendations. We left having bolstered their ability to make strategic decisions about their digital properties that will enable them to be a multi-location hospitality firm.
I came back to Bloomington with a much deeper understanding of the Chinese culture and a reshaped view of the misperceptions and preconceived notions I had about China. Getting to work with a founder on their business is an immense privilege. I’m so thankful for our client, who invited us behind the curtain to see the unvarnished details of his venture and who was open to any and all of our suggestions. I believe our teams made an immense impact on our China projects (as did our classmates on trips to Vietnam, India, Guatemala, and Ghana).
China is the future for many of the businesses we will join after graduation, and I know my experience there will give me a leg-up on the job experiences that await me. On a personal level, I know that GLOBASE not only taught me new skills but helped mold me into a better global citizen.