In this two-part series, Larry Becker, Associate Director of Marketing and Admissions, reflects on his experiences traveling in Brazil with the Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) Class of 2014. Read Part Two.
As you read this, the Darden Global MBA for Executives Class of 2014 have just returned from their residency in Brazil, the second of six international residencies in this innovative program. During two weeks in Brazil, these 29 students travel throughout Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo with four Darden professors and their support team.
They attend classes — Global Economies and Markets, Finance, Accounting and Leading Organizations — and immerse themselves in Global Leadership Experiences — cultural and business excursions to destinations ranging from the Brazilian Stock Exchange, AES Brazil, Embraer and even the peak of Corcovado, where they engage in a leadership exercise at the site of the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Over the days I spent with the students, it became clear how their experiences in Sao Paulo and Rio bring the design of the Darden Global Executive MBA to life. GEMBA develops experienced global managers, leaders who understand and work across national and cultural boundaries.
To each case method class, the students bring perspectives shaped by their own background and experience, and then expand these perspectives as they engage with their classmates, the faculty and the case content itself.
The cases serve as a springboard: they develop decision making ability, enhance managerial and technical skills—and quite often tie into the local setting:
- Before engaging in Q&A with an executive from AES Brazil (a guest speaker who offers firsthand insight into the energy business and the Brazilian economy), the students work through a Darden case that teaches principles of accounting via a discussion of the firm’s financials.
- Likewise, a visit to airplane manufacturer Embraer is preceded by a case that helps the class understand the ramifications of the various ways the firm can account for the cost of an airplane – a discussion that is enriched by the pilots and aerospace executives in the class.
- Soft skills are not neglected: a leadership case involving dispute resolution in a Latin America based multinational firm challenges students to understand how to best motivate the people they lead—while arriving at a solution that resolves conflict in a culturally attuned manner.
- And just as setting is woven into the curriculum, so are current events: our Global Economies and Markets Class spontaneously incorporates discussion of the U.S. minting the trillion dollar coin.
- It’s not surprising for our GEMBA finance professor to remind students to draw on the accounting principles they reviewed in his colleague’s class this morning.
- Or for a discussion of centralized government support of a Latin American industry to be compared to state run commerce that the students will encounter in their upcoming residency in China.
- Or for students to somewhat playfully look for examples of muda, a Japanese term for inefficiency to which the class was introduced in their Term 1 Operations course.
Learning in the Global Executive MBA program extends beyond the classroom, however. In my next post, I’ll discuss how the unique backgrounds of Darden’s GEMBA students help create a truly dynamic, global learning experience.
Associate Director of Marketing and Admissions