Global Business Expedition (GBE) – Spring Break 2018

Everyone loves Spring Break– the perfect week to enjoy right before craziness sets in with projects, exams, and papers due before the academic year ends. Each student’s experience is different. Some students in the MBA program embark on a Global Business Expedition (GBE). GBEs are short-term, high-intensity global programs where students travel on a private tour to visit globally successful, multi-national companies, as well as the must-see historical sites of the region. This year, Singapore and Israel were on the list. I decided to interview two of my classmates, Andrew Page, and Carl Shapiro, who visited Singapore, and Israel, respectively. Continue reading to learn more about their journey and enjoy the beautiful sights!

Andrew Page
First-year Full-Time MBA student with a focus on marketing

  • Why did you choose Singapore for your GBE?

AP: I chose to go to Singapore for several reasons. First, I have never been to Asia and I felt like I would be able to get a great experience with many different cultures in a short amount of time. Secondly, this GBE was focused on experiences with doing business throughout Asia and we had opportunities to meet with companies that had operations in Singapore and throughout Asia.

  • Who else was on this trip with you?

AP: There were 25 other students and two faculty members.

  • What were some memorable experiences that you would like to share?

AP: First: the food! We tried all the great food that Singapore has to offer and although it may seem weird that this is such a memorable experience, it is such a unique part of the culture throughout all of Singapore. Everyone has food recommendations for you whether you ask for them or not.

Another memorable experience was visiting the different culturally-specific areas, for example: Little India, Chinatown, and Arab Street. It felt like we were walking into a different country when we went into these areas, but at the same time the cultures were so integrated with each other. There were Chinese jewelers selling to Indian customers in Little India and an Indian clothing shop owner selling Islamic clothing on Arab Street. It was just so unique to see these cultures intertwine.

Finally, I was able to interact with a lot of people with whom I have not had time to spend before. Out of our group, the majority were in the Working Professionals MBA program, so I was able to speak with them about their experiences and make some great network connections. I was also able to spend a lot of time with our faculty member and get to know him outside of the classroom setting.

  • Was there anything that you did not expect or would have done differently?

AP: I did not expect the opportunities that were available to us as students in that part of the world. There were many instances where we were able to make connections for future opportunities with the companies we were meeting.

  • Would you recommend others to join the GBE next year? 

AP: I would recommend GBE to every student who can do it, and I might try to do it again next year!

Carl Shapiro

First-year Full-Time MBA student with a focus on marketing and brand management

  • Why did you choose Israel for your GBE?

CS: The focus for my career is marketing and brand management which has a strong relationship with the culture in which the brand is doing business. Israel is unique in that the domestic market is too small to support a major company on its own, so as a means for survival, Israeli firms have to export and market themselves in foreign markets. To be on the ground and start to understand the strategies that these firms develop is incredibly powerful.

I also have a personal relationship with Israel, having family there. I am personally invested in the success of the country. I think the unique aspects of Israel– bringing the Hebrew language back to life, establishing the first independent Jewish state in 2000 years, and transforming a desolate environment into fertile land– show what grit and hard work can accomplish.

  • How many students/faculty were on this trip?

CS:  I went to Israel with Oded Shenkar (faculty) and there were nine students on the trip.

  • Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?

CS: Some of my most memorable moments were interacting with Israelis outside of the corporate environment to develop a deeper understanding of their culture. By spending my free time out in Tel Aviv on the beach, or in the markets of Jerusalem, I could really get a feeling of where the entrepreneurship begins and what makes the Israeli condition so relevant to the success of disrupting technology. In the corporate environment, we had the opportunity to talk to the leaders of the businesses we visited, the decision-makers at the highest levels. Because Israel’s culture is so casual, we were encouraged to ask probing questions and get very honest and valuable answers that in the United States might not be possible.

 

  • Was there anything that you did not expect or would have done differently?

CS: I would have liked to have more time for one-on-one networking with some folks from the different companies. Many of the companies we visited introduced us to several high-level managers, but we didn’t have the opportunity to hear them all speak, and it would have been helpful to break out into smaller groups or have unstructured time when we could focus more on the things that interest us with someone from the company who also shares that interest.

  • Would you recommend others to join the GBE next year? 

CS: I absolutely recommend the trip. The reality of the closeness of the Israeli economy with the American economy means that if you work in tech, you will encounter an Israeli firm. It can be an incredible asset to understand the differences and similarities of the two cultures to get the most out of the relationship.