Immersion, Kaizen and Consulting Project: J.D. Alexander (Class of 2018) Shares Experiences from Three of Darden’s Worldwide Courses
By Sabrina Liu
Second year student J.D. Alexander (Class of 2018) enrolled at Darden after working at PwC as an advisory senior associate. He attended Colgate University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 2012.
During his time at Darden, J.D. participated in three Darden Worldwide Courses (DWC), gaining insight into global business practices. Opportunities to learn about global business factored into J.D.’s decision to attend Darden. “I visited over thirty countries before I enrolled at Darden,” J.D. said. “All of these visits were from a tourist perspective. I was really interested in learning about the international context from a business perspective. Darden provides so many great global programs and that attracted me to Darden.”
During his first year, J.D. participated in two global experiences: a faculty-led Global Immersion course to China, which visited companies and cultural sites in Shanghai and Beijing, and a week-long Global Client Kaizen project in Switzerland with Danaher. In his second year, he participated in a Global Consulting Project (GCP) with AccuTec Blades, Inc., a medical device company based in Verona, Virginia. The project allowed J.D. and his teammates to solve a pressing business challenge for AccuTec, related to business expansion opportunities. As part of the project, J.D. and two of his classmates conducted meetings with potential business partners in Germany.
J.D.’s participation in the China Immersion Course stemmed from a desire to learn more about how business works and what motivates people in Asia. He was also looking forward to developing stronger bonds with his classmates. “The course to China was a standard Global Immersion course in which you visit different companies, participate in discussions, and travel with your Darden classmates. It was an eye opening experience since I was not familiar with the unique business environment in China.” In contrast, J.D. participated in the GCP with AccuTec Blades, Inc. to maintain and expand his consulting skills. “I worked in external consulting before Darden and I will be working as an internal consultant after graduation. I chose to do a GCP so that I could sharpen my skillset by participating in a real consulting engagement.”
J.D. also chose to participate in three global courses while completing his MBA degree because he valued the support offered for student academic travel experiences. In addition to offering scholarships for global programs, several of Darden’s global courses are particularly cost effective. J.D. explained, “I tried to maximize my trips while at Darden. For the Kaizen project, I only needed to pay for my flights and AccuTec covered most of my onsite visit expenses in Europe.”
J.D.’s experiences varied significantly across all three programs. “China is always a huge topic. The course to China is more of an introductory course about business and culture there. The Kaizen Project to Switzerland gave me practical experience from a company perspective. Rather than learning about a country in general, we zoned in on one specific company and understood how Danaher does business in an international context. The consulting project with AccuTec, is also different from the previous programs. I would describe it as a discovery process into international business. We had to get up to speed on healthcare in different European countries. We conducted a competitive analysis, and interviewed many potential customers and business partners.”
J.D. believes learning about culture is key to understanding business in different locations. He explained, “I feel it’s very important to be in the country to understand the culture and what motivates people. The way people think really varies around the world. That insight is important for business people to be successful in conducting business across borders. You should always be aware of the international context.”