It wasn’t going to be a "business-as-usual" experience for students in the Executive MBA Program as plans were being finalized to take them to Southeast Asia for their International Residency in May.
The trip's plan included a stop in Bangkok, but the political climate in Thailand gave us enough pause to reconsider. With fewer than three weeks before the group’s departure, we decided to divert to Singapore and then follow our plan to visit Cambodia and our final destination, Vietnam. "It was a real life exercise in risk management," said Brian Winterstein, EMBA ’10.
Executive MBA students in Professors Aggarwal and Rahtz's global strategy management class spent ten days in Southeast Asia, where they experienced first-hand the demands and opportunities in today’s global economy. The trip's agenda included visits to a retailer, the port in Singapore (PSA), the stock exchange and a manufacturing facility in Ho Chi Minh City.
Of special note was our visit to the Wat Bo primary school in Cambodia. Upon our arrival, we were escorted into a meeting room by a student musical group to meet the principal and other officials associated with the school. "It was clear, this is a special place," said Greg Smith EMBA '10. "I was lucky enough to be able to present a donation to the principal on behalf of some of the employees from my former organization, Naviance."
This school is supported by the Ponheary Ly Foundation, a registered non-profit organization in the US. It was no surprise when we learned that Ponheary Ly, former teacher and founder, had been nominated for the CNN Heroes of the Year award for 2010. A CNN news team arrived in Cambodia just two weeks after our visit to the Wat Bo primary school to capture the story of her and the work the foundation is doing to educate the children of Cambodia. Truly a memorable experience!
Another class favorite was visiting Tang’s, a leader in Singapore’s retail scene, arranged by Professor Larry Ring. Here, our EMBA students observed how marketing moves from strategy to implementation.
Worldwide connections with universities around the globe enable the Executive MBA Program at William & Mary to set up seminars and business contacts covering topics such as cultural differences, financing, and trade opportunities. This international trip experience augments the global perspectives explored in the classroom and exposes students to unique cultures.
"We sat there talking about creating an import/export business while enjoying a late night dessert. It was not hypothetical or academic, but an earnest discussion of how to apply our experiences and contacts to make it a reality. That’s the beauty of this program. We are able to combine a lifetime of experience with fresh perspectives gained through education,” said Joe Hertzler EMBA ’10.