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Learning the Cultures

Phan reaps big gains from international experiences

Patti Phan
Senior Manager, Co-Manufacturing, Danone North America

Vanderbilt Global Executive MBA 2014

To strengthen her business acumen and advance her career, Patti Phan wanted to pursue an MBA — that is, until she found out about the Americas MBA program.

Mars Petcare, where Patti manages sourcing strategies and supplier relationships, among other responsibilities, “is transitioning itself into a premier global food company,” she explains. “I thought the program would be a great opportunity to learn and understand how to collaborate and work not only across different Mars functions and brands but also different countries.”

Through the AMBA program, Patti says, she not only has benefited from the perspectives of fellow students who represent a variety of industries and functions but who also are from Brazil, Mexico and Canada. The immersion experiences in those countries, she believes, have been especially important. “I began to better understand how culture affects business and business outcomes and gained valuable insight into risks and opportunities working in Brazil and Mexico, two of our fastest growing regions. You can’t learn everything on this from books and videos. You have to fully experience life and work within those countries.”

Patti credits the program for helping her “think two steps ahead of where I want to be. I don’t just ‘do’ things at work anymore but actually understand why I’m doing them and the impact I have.”

One area where she’s already made an impact: applying tools she learned in the program, Patti developed a “game-changing” global sourcing strategy that will result in $30 million in savings. Meanwhile, she says, “my company has seen me develop as a leader” — which led to her selection as a representative on Mars’ Cat Business Management Team. “I would definitely say my company has seen an ROI,” she says.