April 11, 2017

The Global Business Experience: Business Without Borders

As a leader in global business education, the Georgetown McDonough School of Business provides students with the opportunity to travel abroad and consult on projects either within an industry or with Fortune 500 companies through the Global Business Experience (GBE).

The Global Business Experience: Business Without Borders

The Business of Being Global

The GBE is part of the MBA program’s core curriculum. Students work in small teams and partner with executives from multinational organizations to create solutions for complex business challenges. After several months of collaboration, students travel to their client’s country and present their recommendations to the organization's leadership.

This year’s GBE for the full-time MBA program included assignments in Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, South Africa, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates. During their weeklong visits abroad, students pitched solutions to an array of companies. One GBE cohort consulted GlaxoSmithKline on their well-respected international services while another group of MBA students worked with the Colgate Palmolive marketing strategy team. Other projects included advising a Kenyan startup in the online retail market and assisting a South African geotextiles firm’s expansion plan into the United States.

Returning with an Open Mind

Warren Ballard (MBA’17) worked with Cytonn Investments, a private equity firm that provides investment solutions to the Kenyan diaspora. The scope of Ballard’s project transitioned from identifying alternative funding sources for the firm to exploring investment opportunities in the tourism and meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) industries. While he found working with his Kenyan business counterparts to be vastly different from previous experiences, Ballard believes that the project in Kenya widened his understanding of global business.

“I think oftentimes school curriculum operates with this assumption that all economies are developed, but the reality is eye-opening,” he said. “I think my perspective has been mostly influenced from actually being in the country and conversing with the locals. It’s a really unique capstone to the curriculum at Georgetown.”

Ballard also mentioned that when it comes to how people in different countries do business, “culture is a complex set of values, ideas, and beliefs, and it isn’t necessarily fundamentally different amongst geographic regions.” With no prior experience outside of the United States before coming to Georgetown, Ballard is now fully prepared for his future career as a global leader in business. Upon completion of his studies, he will enroll in an international leadership development rotational program.

From Africa to America

Another GBE participant, Christian L’Heureaux (MBA’17), crafted a market entry strategy for a South African geotextiles company looking to enter the American mining industry’s supply chain. The project brought unique challenges to the team, who had to adapt in response to the new policies of the U.S. (or Trump) administration.

In addition to visiting their clients’ production facilities, L’Heureaux and the other students in South Africa visited several companies in the region, including the local Walmart partner, Massmart, and one of southern Africa’s most successful breweries, Soweto Gold.

"South Africa has some amazing companies in the medtech and fintech spaces. It was really rewarding to visit cutting edge, winning companies,” L’Heureaux said. He added that playing such a critical role in consulting his clients on their goals was very rewarding and an experience that he will proudly look back on after he graduates this spring.