By Arial Starks
The Vanderbilt Executive MBA (EMBA) Program offers 2 tracks: Executive Edge and Global Immersion. The tracks diverge in schedule in the second year, when Global Immersion students participate in 4 residencies in Vancouver, Canada; Mexico City, Mexico; São Paulo, Brazil; and Nashville, Tennessee. Their cohort consists of students from each of the 4 Americas Alliance partner schools. Each school takes turns hosting the others in their respective countries, giving the cohort a cross-cultural experience.
This year, 10 Vanderbilt EMBA students reunited with their cohort of 50-60 working professionals in São Paulo on October 20. Students Tess Dominey and Jeffrey Taylor offered their insights on how the trip impacted their experiences in the Executive MBA program.
“It was such a fun reunion the first day, being able to see our friends,” shared Dominey. “That first day on Friday, we jumped right back into the swing of things. I could tell just how much relationship building we had done during our first residency in Canada, because any shyness or awkwardness was completely gone.”
During their 9-day stay in Brazil, the students immersed themselves in the country’s culture while learning how they conduct business. They took 2 classes: Corporate Social Responsibility and Strategic Management for Emerging Markets.
“Learning from the Brazilian professors was a game changer,” said Taylor. “They were amazing and really opened our eyes to the challenges in these emerging markets. It really taught me not to assume other countries will like something just because we like it in the U.S. You need to know their buying habits and what they will embrace. Companies can mitigate failure by learning these key things.”
The students also completed a capstone project, working alongside their international c-teams to solve a business problem in Brazil.
“One of our classmates teaches software development in Mexico, and he has taken our project concept and given it to his students as their capstone project,” shared Dominey. “We have no idea if it will be turned into anything real, but (the residency) is an amazing space to share ideas across industries, cultures and experiences.”
The students enjoyed their time in Brazil and look forward to their next residency in Mexico in January. Taylor would recommend anyone looking to pursue an EMBA to consider the Global Immersion track.
“I came into this program wanting experience across more industries,” said Dominey. “ Gaining those experiences in different countries has given me exponential growth…It (the program) has already made me a better facilitator and made me question my own approaches to business.”
“While both tracks are valuable, I feel our experience is extremely unique and for many of us it’s the one time in our lives that we will get to do this kind of thing,” added Taylor. “It’s an opportunity that if you can do it, you should get that international, cultural experience and understanding, but also possibly change the trajectory of your career.”