Student Semester Exchange Experience in Madrid


Written by MBA student Michael Foster.

In the fall of 2014, I had the opportunity to study at IE Business School in Madrid. I recommend to anyone doing an MBA at USD to consider going abroad for a semester as the experience is invaluable to your studies and networking opportunities. The Ahler´s Center makes the transition almost seamless.

IE is ranked as one of the top business programs in Europe, so it attracts extremely diverse and talented students. The professors are a mix of academics and business professionals. Classes often have guest speakers that offer great insights into the European markets. Most recently we had speakers from Realza Capital and MasterCard.

Viewed from Mike Foster's balcony in Madrid

View from Mike Foster’s balcony in Madrid

Living in Madrid has also been a great experience. It’s very pedestrian friendly with a great public transportation system. Gone are the days of sitting on the 5 to go a few miles. Madrid is a world-class city with a rich history. The architecture is amazing and the museum options are incredible. If you attend IE, I highly recommend living in either Malasaña or Chueca. Both these neighborhoods are centrally located and only a few metro stops from the school.

A big advantage of living in Madrid is that flights abroad are cheap. I had the opportunity to spend a week in Morocco. The culture in North Africa is almost the complete opposite of Spain’s, so it was a real eye opener. I spent a few days in Marrakech, Casablanca, and Rabat.

USD´s IE students in Morocco

USD´s IE students in Morocco

If you are considering going abroad for a semester, I definitely recommend IE Business school. The courses I took while in Madrid were: Applied Corporate Finance, Private Equity and Financial Statements, Trillion Dollar Challenges, Bootstrapping for Startups, Corporate Governance, Bottom of the Pyramid, and War, Sales, and Marketing.

MBA Student Michael Foster

MBA Student Michael Foster

Northeastern’s CUIBE Case Competition – Experience Told by a Student


Written by Molly Strasser, International Business and Computer Science double major.

When was the last time you had the opportunity to go across the country to compete with other students at leading business schools? That is the exact opportunity that I, along with three other USD IB majors and minors received this semester when we represented USD in Northeastern’s CUIBE case competition (pronounced Q-bee). At this point you may be wondering, just like I was about 8 months ago, what does CUIBE stand for? CUIBE stands for Consortium of Undergraduate International Business Education.

Northeastern’s CUIBE case competition ran as follows: every school had a team of 4 students and there were 16 teams competing from across the country; every team received the same case study (yes, like the Harvard Business Review ones you use in class), and we were given 24 hours to come up with a solution to the challenge presented in the case and create a PowerPoint and 15 minute presentation. We then had from 10:00 pm the night when the case was due, to 7:45 am the next morning when we were required to check in at Northeastern to give our presentation, to sleep, eat, and practice our presentation. After giving your presentation to the ‘Board of Directors’ of the company the 4 finalists were announced and everyone was given the chance to go watch their presentations.

Boston's North End District

Boston’s North End District

The experience was intense but very fulfilling. The team was able to work with leading professors in the Business School during our practice pre-competition. Having access to these professors in such an intimate environment was invaluable to my intellectual growth. Getting to know other high achieving and involved students in the International Business major and minor was also a great experience. Since the team was not limited to students of a particular year, our team consisted of a Junior Finance major, IB minor, two Senior IB majors, and myself, an IB, Computer Science double major. While the seniors had a passing knowledge of each other, none of us knew each other very well. By the end of the experience though we had all bonded over late nights, high pressure, and city exploration.

As the competition was all the way across the country we arrived the night before the welcome dinner and had essentially a whole day to explore Boston. We were also able to go out to dinner as just the team and Erin the night we arrived which was a great way to relax after a long day of traveling. The boys saw who could eat more of their huge seafood plates, and the rest of us just enjoyed the delicious Italian food. We got to watch game 7 of the World Series in the presence of non-Giants fans, a first in my life. It got a tad awkward being the only ones to be screaming yes when everyone else was groaning. Since it was October, Boston was the perfect picture of fall and (thankfully) wasn’t too cold. Basically perfect touring weather, and a nice break from San Diego’s reliable warmth and sun. All the teams from the East Coast were envious of all the West Coast schools and their weather.


Chloe Spears and Molly Strasser (right) being tourists in Boston.

Getting to meet students from other schools around the country was another highlight of the competition. While we were all competing with each other that was a quick 24 hours of work and before and after that everyone was able to socialize. Hearing about other’s experiences at school and just getting to meet others with similar interests made the whole competition that much more fun. After the competition Northeastern arranged a closing dinner and activity at the Boston Tea Party museum. We got a tour of a replication boat as well as a reenactment of the events on that historic night. The dinner was fabulous and after all the students went out together, overall a perfect ending to the trip.

The CUIBE closing dinner

The CUIBE closing dinner


“Chassez le sommeil!”

The University of San Diego’s School of Business Administration offers graduate business students the opportunity to attend courses at universities in several countries and earn graduate credits toward USD’s MBA program. One of our current MBA students, Andrea Ruiz, writes about her experience in Bordeaux, France as an exchange student at KEDGE Business School.

KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux

KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux

“Chassez le sommeil!” As Advent begins, Frère Sebastian—a Dominican brother at Saint Paul Monastery in Bordeaux—reminds us to “chase away our sleep!” It’s a powerful phrase that defines my experience here in Bordeaux. For me, Bordeaux has been my time of preparation.

Away from my family, friends and the comforts of Southern California, Bordeaux has offered me a moment to refocus, especially on my career and on how—come next summer—I will make noise in the market with the experience that I have gained at USD. I’ve discovered new insights far beyond the classroom. The most memorable insights have come from two special people I’ve met here in France: Roland and Sofia.

  • Roland is from Hungary. He’s one of the rare Hungarians that learned a foreign language. He speaks fluent English, and he was quick to approach me when he knew I was from California. To him, the U.S. is a dream, a place where his hard, honest work would be valued. Roland helped me look back at my home with brand new awe, and I’m excited to be a part of an American company that creates the value that puts a twinkle in peoples’ eyes—just like Roland.
  • Sofia, a Colombian transfer student in Bordeaux, lives day by day. She came to France on a scholarship that she received miraculously, and she’s here with limited financial resources. Regardless, Sofia invited me to her small room for dinner when she knew we shared our Latin American culture. She took an internship at UNESCO in Paris recently, and although she didn’t know how she was going to pay for rent or any of her expenses while in Paris, her drive to make a difference in the world motivated her to go. Sofia reminded me that if we are motivated to do good in the market or in the world, everything else will fall into place.
MBA student Andrea Ruiz with other exchange students in Bordeaux, France

MBA student Andrea Ruiz with other exchange students in Bordeaux, France

One of my professors at KEDGE, Dr. Gerald Lang, put it beautifully on the last day of class: “It was very nice to have the whole world here.” Indeed, it was a pleasure to interact with students from around the world and to represent both the U.S. and Mexico myself. I’ve gained new confidence in leading teams of people with absolutely no cultural connections, and I’m learning to create bridges where I once would have thought impossible. Learning French has been an exercise in learning a new corporate culture—a company’s own language—the key is in finding details that will make the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

Bordeaux will always be the place where I woke up. I’m excited to see what the new day will bring!

Reverse Innovation – Why Would a Rich Man Want a Poor Man’s Product?

Corporations need to “change the very definition of innovation from the ‘value for money’ to the ‘value for many,’ and the ‘value for many’ is about doing more with less. – Dr. Vijay Govindarajan

Dr. Vijay Govindarajan, Coxe Distinguished Professor at the Tuck School of Business Dartmouth, New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author presented on the concept of “Reverse Innovation” (below, his book co-written with Chris Trimble) on October 16, 2014. This theory demonstrates that innovations are increasingly originating from developing nations and being transported (sold) into developed nations, in contrast of the traditional opposite flow of innovation.

“I can tell reverse innovation is going to fundamentally change every industry in the next several decades,” Dr. Govindarajan said. “It perhaps represents the single greatest growth opportunity for corporations. It’s going to impact manufacturing, consumer goods, healthcare, education, transportation, energy… you name it.”

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Dr. Govindarajan began by discussing the common question surrounding why reverse innovation can work, which he describes as: “Why would a rich man want a poor man’s product?” He then spent the rest of his presentation discussing various examples where reverse innovation has successfully occurred.

The first example he uses is healthcare, an area of interest for both developed and developing countries alike. General Electric (GE), known for its medical imaging equipment, produces an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine, which is used in preventing heart attacks. Its retail value in the United States is $20,000, with a usage price of about $200 per scan. Dr. Govindarajan noted that in India, only the most wealthy people and hospitals can afford those costs, as most of rural India only receives $2 per day in income and has little or no access to hospitals and trained physicians. However, as he mentions, “non-consumers still have the same necessities as consumers,” and thus both the wealthy and the non-wealthy are at risk for heart attacks and are in need of ECG machines. From a business standpoint, Dr. Govindarajan says, in relation to consumers and non-consumers, “The single-biggest growth opportunity of corporations today is to turn non-consumers into consumers.”

General Electric shares similar viewpoints as Dr. Govindarajan, as they developed an ECG machine whose retail price is $500 and each scan costs 10¢. The machine is small and lightweight, allowing for easy mobility, as well as works on battery (as opposed to the $20,000 model, which only uses electricity) and its operating system is much simpler to use. Therefore, people in places such as rural India will have the income, mobility, and training needed to transport and effectively operate the machine so many more people will be ECG consumers than before. This new model is currently sold in India as well as 194 other countries, and through whose sales is generating financial growth for General Electric in the United States.

His other examples included other healthcare-related markets, such as surgeries and artificial limbs, all with the same outcomes of “pushing the price performance paradigm” (doing more with less) that Dr. Govindarajan says is fundamental is reverse innovation. He further demonstrated that the reason American companies are so hesitant to approach innovation with this model is because they are “poorly positioned to capture this opportunity,” meaning they have excellent capabilities but they approach international innovation with American models and logic rather than those of the cultures in which they are innovating. Using examples relating to Kelloggs and ESPN innovation efforts in India, Dr. Govindarajan explained how corporate cultural relativism can increase profits and spur real innovative progress.


Dr. Govindarajan concluded with remarks on the need to change the types of fundamental questions and definitions of innovation from “transporting” global strategy from one country to another to identifying and assessing the problems of the specific non-consumers of the targeted region.

His research supports the notion that corporations need to “change the very definition of innovation from the ‘value for money’ to the ‘value for many,’ and the ‘value for many’ is about doing more with less. It’s about doing a lot more with a lot less for a lot of people, and that requires that frugal thinking, that frugal innovation… Poor people have the same needs as the rich, desires as the rich, [and] ambition as the rich, why can’t they have the same access to opportunity? That’s the essence of reverse innovation.”

If you missed this exciting International Speakers Series presentation or would like to to watch it again click here.