A big part of why I came to business school – and to Columbia Business School in particular – was the opportunity to learn more about international business through my classmates (40% of whom are international students) as well as through practical experience. Columbia is part of the CIBER consortium, a group of institutions with Centers for International Business Education, and the Global Business Project, an application-only course offering that gives students the opportunity to work with a team of MBA candidates from different universities on a consulting project in one of several emerging markets. When I found out about the program, I knew right away that I wanted to apply.
I was matched with a healthcare company in Brazil for a supply chain optimization project. My eight-person group (which includes a faculty member with expertise in the subject) represents six different countries and five universities and brings a wide range of experiences to the table. We met each other and our client at a kickoff weekend in Washington, D.C. in February, and used the weekend to bond as a team, meet other teams, assign roles, develop a charter, and do a “deep dive” with the client to understand the structure of his organization.
Upon returning to our campuses, we have been solidifying our understanding of the client’s organization and the consulting frameworks taught through the course, gathering data, and preparing a deck to share with our client. Technology (Adobe Connect, Google Hangout, Dropbox, Skype, and more) helps us stay productive and in close contact with each other. Our work will accelerate in the second half of the semester as we prepare for a full in-country immersion for two weeks in May. The two Brazilians on the team share information at every meeting to get the group up to speed on the culture and business practices in Brazil; those of us who are not native Portuguese speakers are taking language courses.
The photo at the top of my post is from our first meeting, a team member caught a funny snapshot of our group laughing at a joke…I think that we make a good advertisement for Google Hangout! In any event, I’m enjoying the challenge of working on this type of engagement and am really looking forward to meeting up with my teammates in person again in May.
More to come when we’re on the ground in São Paulo!