November 15 2016
"The Process" That Led Us to Hong Kong
The Global Business Project—we knew it was coming since the first day we started the Cornell Executive MBA Americas program. We even read about it when we were in the process of filling out our MBA admissions application. Everyone started talking about it during our first residential session. As starry-eyed, new MBA students, all we knew at first was that we would eventually have to travel outside North America to complete the Global Business Project. We wanted to start preparing for this big assignment right away. We asked current students and program administrators about it, but they all kept saying the same thing: “don’t worry about it until later.”
So, here’s the first lesson we learned about the Global Business Project: patience is a virtue. We had plenty of new challenges when we first began the Americas program, and there was no need to add any more to our plate at the time. Johnson has a process that always prepares us for what’s next. As Nick Saban always teaches: trust in the process and focus on the now. (He’s the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team and holds multiple national championships.)
Fast forward a couple of months, and we were finally given some guidance on our Global Business Project. As part of the challenge, we had to independently find a real company outside North America that could use our help in solving a real business case. It’s a great opportunity to apply the skills we learned during the MBA program. The idea of finding a company to work with on our own was exciting, but actually finding that company was a little bit tough; however, being able to offer services free of charge to our potential clients helped.
MBAs at work in Hong Kong
Everyone on my team started talking to contacts in their networks that had businesses outside the United States. I even sent messages via Twitter to people that would be interesting to work with. (I’m looking at you Richard Branson—I know you saw my Tweet.) While there was no formal class called Networking Management in the Americas program, we learned that building networks was important, and maintaining those networks was even better. Only through our networks did we find a client for our Global Business Project.
The Hong Kong skyline with our boardroom gnome (he wanted to come with us)
My team ended up in Hong Kong. It was a busy week at the client site and we learned not only their business challenge, but also the culture of work in Asia and different business norms when it came to transactions on the other side of the world. Another thing we learned was how to adjust to the 12-hour time difference quickly in order to provide value to our client on day one. I think we did very well. Our other Americas cohorts went to different countries, and by the pictures and messages I’ve seen, we all had a great learning experience. We may even have a team working on a project on each continent—except maybe Antarctica! By setting us free to take on the world (literally), the Americas program taught us how the lessons and skills we’ve learned at Cornell are truly relevant in not only our current cities, but also in cities around the globe.