As I begin to emerge from my haze, I’m reflecting on our first residency of the Americas MBA program that wrapped up one week ago today. Forty-six students from four schools across the Americas came together for eight days of intense learning and team building, and made memories to last a lifetime. The best part? We’ll be back together in less than eight weeks to do it all over again in Sao Paulo, Brazil!
Despite all the briefings, conversations with previous participants, and webinars with the program leaders, I don’t think there is anything that can truly prepare you for such an experience. And truly I am still processing all that happened, and I think I will be for some time to come. Once thing I can say is that I’m a different person than I was 2 weeks ago – my eyes are open just a bit wider, my mind thinks just a bit differently, and my heart is just a bit fuller with all the new relationships formed and old ones strengthened.
The formal learnings for the week were made up of two courses (International Management and Strategy) and the kick-off of the 8 month long Capstone project, in which teams of 5-6 students (representing all four schools) are paired with a company to work on a consulting project for the duration of the program. I’ll be honest – it was a lot to take in; much like drinking from a firehose… for 8 days. But while it was trying at times to sit through 8 hours of class each day, there was definitely some exhilaration in downing double shots of espresso at break and being surrounded by a whole room of people in the same boat.
Dr. Dave Thomas kicked it off, helping us to explore our cultural differences and similarities in a safe environment, as well as helping us poke some fun at all
the stereotypes out there about our own cultures. Admittedly not knowing much about Mexican or Brazilian culture, I definitely learned a lot, but mostly outside of the formal classroom sessions. Dr. Thomas’ class doesn’t seek to teach you about a particular culture, but more about how to be open to learning, respecting and working with cultural differences when they present themselves. In this way it was a perfect framework in which to explore working together and building relationships. Especially because the backgrounds of those in the class are far from limited to the four countries their schools represent – there are at least 12 different countries represented in our cohort!
Dr. Daniel Shapiro was up next, with the extremely difficult job of keeping
us engaged through final five days of our residency. Luckily the content was incredibly stimulating and thought-provoking, making it just a bit easier to stay awake on what seemed to be less and less sleep every night. The strategic frameworks we learned in this class are something we will be able to take with us and apply to situations for the rest of our careers.
It has taken me about a week to recover – more mentally than physically. But as I’ve had time to reflect, I keep coming back to how incredibly grateful I am to have had that experience. And I can’t believe that I get to do it three more times!