Each year MBA students have the opportunity to travel abroad to gain international consulting experience. The purpose of the consulting project is to further develop students’ leadership and team skills and to enhance their cultural awareness in an international setting. In addition, international organizations benefit from receiving consulting services. Many of the projects have a strong focus on socially inclusive business models or issues of sustainability. Below is a sampling of these projects.
Examples of International Practicums:
- Project completed in January 2013 and 2014 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
SECOVI-Rio is a government-sponsored organization that receives funding from condominium associations in Rio de Janeiro. Management in SECOVI-Rio was interested in learning how to improve the environmental sustainability of both existing commercial housing units and future housing development projects. After meeting with the clients and conducting research in this area, the student team presented a number of feasible “green” initiatives to the clients. The clients were particularly impressed with one of these ideas—building a “model condominium” complex as a demonstration for developers, builders, and tradesmen to view in person. The clients were so impressed with the presentation that they asked the student team to translate their entire presentation into Portuguese and return in the near future to present this to their Board of Directors.
“I attended the International Practicum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in January 2013. Beyond the amazing cultural experience I had and the overall expansion of my comfort zone, the practicum has given me so much more. Working with students from COPPEAD, I was able to hone my intercultural business skills. The company, SecoviRio, offered us a challenging project and real world practical experience. Finally, the professor provided essential consulting knowledge and advice, which added to the success of the project. Overall, I believe that the International Practicum experience provided by the University of San Diego should be a major requirement for the development of effective and knowledgeable MBA students, as I consider it to be one of the best professional experiences in my MBA career.” Daniel Shehan, IMBA
- Practicum – January 2014 – La Romana & Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Edify, Inc.’s mission is to improve and expand sustainable, affordable, Christ-centered education in the developing world. They do this by providing capital to educational entrepreneurs to support facilities, curricula, and business and teacher training. Through a grant from Edify, Inc., USD consultants were able to travel to La Romana and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to investigate the feasibility of installing solar panels on the roofs of small Christian schools. Considering electricity is very intermittent and expensive in this country, this type of project was necessary. While in the Dominican Republic, the students built a survey instrument, traveled to school sites and interviewed principals, met with a solar panel installer and gave their final recommendations. Ultimately the students concluded that it is feasible for medium and high-end electricity users to afford loans for solar panel installation at competitive microfinance interest rates.
Dominican Republic practicum participant and Evening MBA student, Mario Orozco, commented:
“It is important that people come to business school with different goals. This kind of project and our exposure to it was an important reminder that we, as future business leaders, have a responsibility to society. It’s not all about making money for the company or organization. We need to make sure we’re using our resources to train and educate these small businesses that are trying to make a difference. If you can make a difference here, you’ll make a difference out there.”
What about you? What lessons did you learn while consulting abroad? Share your thoughts below.