MBA student Emily Lapp recently traveled to Shanghai, China for an international consulting practicum. These are her reflections:
“Just prior to my final semester in the University of San Diego’s MBA program, I decided to participate in an international consulting practicum during the 2016 intercessional period. On New Year’s Eve, I boarded a plane and, 13 hours later, touched down to greet the new year in a new country: China. An often discussed but frequently misunderstood country, China is primarily known for being heavily populated (almost 1.4 billion people) and a chief export partner to the United States; many products sold here in the US are produced within China. Yet, most Americans have never been to China and lack firsthand experience of the country. While studying the history and culture of a country can improve one’s understanding, there is little that can compare to firsthand experience. Given China’s significance as a growing nation with an ever increasing role in global business, I decided a trip to China would significantly aide in my understanding of global business by exposing me to both daily life and business in China.
The company selected for the China practicum consulting project was “iPai,” an American-owned auction company in Shanghai. Our group was divided into two teams and assigned topics. My team’s job was to identify opportunities for improvement in the company’s organizational structure and work flow processes. While our professor was on-site to oversee the project and provide valuable feedback, we were entrusted to set meetings with the client, organize our efforts and ultimately, decide what recommendations would best assist our client. The project was much more open-ended than a typical MBA assignment and the timeline much more condensed. Not only did my team have to take care to accurately assess the company’s current situation and ensure we effectively communicated with our client to understand their desired outcome, but we also had to quickly assess the strengths of each team member while making time critical decisions as to how best to tackle the workload. Being in a foreign country, far away from the normal resources of USD and working for clients whose Chinese employees spoke little English, added to the project’s complexity. In the process, I learned a great deal about cultural norms in China, particularly related to organizational structure, and took away many tips for doing business in China. In the evenings, after a long day of work, our team was able to get out and enjoy the wonder that is the city of Shanghai.
After an intense ten days of working on the project, it was time for our final presentation to the client. I was eager to share our team’s hard work and, after the presentation concluded, felt a great sense of satisfaction. I knew our work for iPai was not just academic in nature, but would actually be used to further develop and grow the company. I truly enjoyed putting the skills I’ve learned during the past two years of my MBA program to great use for a company. I found the entire international practicum experience to be incredible. I know for a fact that it has greatly contributed to my personal understanding of the world and further enhanced my global mindset. I highly recommend an international practicum to all MBA students. I can promise that you will not regret it!”
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