With an average of 10 years’ work experience under their belts, students in Daniels’ Executive MBA program are accustomed to operating in the “real world.” But having an opportunity to experience contrasting business markets on the other side of the planet? Well, that takes things to a whole new level.
“Mark Twain said it best, ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,’” said Ryan Randall, an EMBA student currently working in the oil and gas industry who traveled with his cohort to China and Myanmar in May, spending about a week in each country. “Our international trip provided us with a unique opportunity to challenge ourselves and our assumptions in the global business environment.”
Randall, who will graduate from the EMBA program in August, selected the two nations with the other 24 members of his cohort from a long list of potential international destinations. Because of recently lifted sanctions, Myanmar was a new option, which Randall and his classmates found appealing.
“Only 30 percent of the population in Myanmar is connected to electricity. The country truly is emerging out of the 1950s into the 21st century. We viewed it as a snapshot in time,” said Randall. “Our instructors told us that choosing Myanmar showed great foresight on our part because there are very few places in the world like it any more. If you go there in five years it will be a totally different place.”
Exploration of disparate markets distinguishes Daniels’ EMBA program from those at other institutions. “Unlike a number of programs, we don’t focus specifically on developed economies but rather, we want students to experience a broad range—from very developed and ‘comfortable’ to incredibly under-developed. And we want them to understand the value of both,” said Amanda Cahal, assistant director of Global Programs for Daniels’ EMBA and Professional MBA programs. “Because students vote on where they go for their international trip, it makes their process very thoughtful and considered. They’re forced to ask themselves ‘what do we want to learn?’”
And, after meeting with business leaders in both Hong Kong, China, and Yangon, Myanmar, Randall learned a lot about working in a foreign market, including the importance of respect, patience and doing your homework. “Mansur Ali, general manager of PepsiCo Partners in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, implored us to learn how to learn and become solid human beings,” said Randall, recounting some of the takeaways from his journey. “He reminded us that you don’t have to agree with someone’s opinion, but you must respect it. He asked us to not only to embrace, but also reinforce the society and culture around us, and immerse ourselves in the area we inhabit.”
“Much of this is about developing open, flexible, adaptable, confident leaders. Whether your career keeps you in Denver for the rest of your life or takes you around the world, you’ll engage in and be affected by global business on some level,” said Cahal. “We develop leaders who are as comfortable conducting business in London or Hong Kong as they are in Kigali or Yangon, and who understand there is something to be learned from the experiences of every country, every market and every person.”
If Randall is any indication, it’s a formula that works. “Most surprising to me, is how I opened my heart up to the culture of business and the good it can spread across the world,” said Randall. “I’ll take the wisdom gained from this trip and from this program by leading with integrity and acceptance.”
Learn more about Daniels’ Executive MBA program.