June 5, 2017, by Paul Caulfield

Global experience on the MBA

Gaining global experience is an essential part of any MBA and something highly prized at Nottingham. A key way of getting that experience is through study tours and the partnerships we have built with other universities across the world. As members of our cohort return from our latest trip to our partners in China, this blog takes a look at study tours and the role they play in the Nottingham MBA.

For Paul Caulfield, Director of the Nottingham MBA, students gain vital global experience in a number of ways. The first is simply by coming to Nottingham to study. “Many of our students come from overseas and are studying in the UK to get that experience,” he says, with a typical cohort including more than 20 nationalities. “They gain incredible exposure to different cultures and backgrounds literally from being in the room because of the diversity of the cohort.”

Added to this, the teaching of the Nottingham MBA is designed to highlight different international centres and help students understand how different business can work across the globe.

Against this backdrop comes a range of tours and trips which help students deepen their knowledge of one particular geographical area. Current locations include China, the USA and Malaysia, with plans to expand Nottingham’s portfolio in the future to potentially include countries in Africa, South America and Russia.

“Group study tours is a vehicle we use to get deeper knowledge about countries and operating contexts as part of a global approach to the MBA,” says Paul. “Typically a study tour will be one week-long immersion in the country including trips to businesses, other organisations and cultural visits, and as part of the trip we look to involve alumni from those countries.”

One of those tours, which took place earlier this year, is the result of long-established partnership between the University of Nottingham Business School and Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, with students from each institution travelling across the pond to gain experience of business in a different context and culture.

One of those students is Matt Tripoli, a part-time MBA student at Lehigh who visited the UK in March as part of the study tour programme. Matt, who has undertaken a tour to Ningbo, China, said they are potentially the most valuable part of his MBA. “The general idea is it’s meant to be a learning opportunity for MBA students at Lehigh that’s based on being an intensive experience with companies and professionals in a different country,” he says. “A look you wouldn’t get as a tourist, meet with companies, see how business might be the same or different to how it’s done in the US.” During a packed six days to the UK, Matt and his fellow students visited business organisations, social enterprises and start-ups across England and Scotland, including London, Nottingham and Glasgow, along with cultural visits such as to the Houses of Parliament.

For someone like Matt, the study tour is a vital way to build his own experience in business outside of the US. “My work experience has been all US domestic business,” he says. “I work in the energy sector and certainly have aspirations that one day I will be in a role that will lead me outside of the US so this is a good way of getting exposure.” For Matt, being completely immersed in a variety of business and cultural environments is the perfect way to see firsthand how business can differ from country to country. “It was all around an eye-opening type of experience,” he adds.

The Lehigh visit took participants to a range of businesses including financial, logistical, entrepreneurial and socia, from Thomson Reuters in London and Santander in Glasgow to tech start-up Makerble Worldwide, also in London, and social enterprise Growing Spaces in Nottingham, each bringing their own unique experience to the visitors. Summing up the experience and what it brought to his MBA, Matt says: “For me in particular, without the international experience on my resume, this trip and the trip I took to Ningbo were by far the most valuable courses I have taken on the MBA programme in Lehigh and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has leadership aspirations.”

This piece was written by Ellen Manning, a freelance journalist, writer & blogger. Ellen writes for several leading publications, and also helps our MBA students to develop their media skills.

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