Wow! What a trip! Never having traveled internationally before, I was taken aback by how different life outside of the U.S. is, especially in China, where I visited as a part of the Global Financial Services class through the Evening UST MBA program.
It’s quite hard to put into words what the experience was like, cliché I know, but this trip was much more than visiting another country. Our class had the opportunity to take a behind the scenes look at the financial services industry as it is developing in a region experiencing unparalleled, rapid growth. We were offered perspectives from industry insiders that ranged from up and coming private equity and venture capital firms to established players in the insurance and asset management space. This was more than seeing the light show at the Hong Kong harbor.
During my time in Taipei, Shanghai and Hong Kong, I had a chance to speak with everyone from Chinese business professionals and MBA students to ex-pats that have been calling the region home for the past several years. All of these differing perspectives shed new light on what I believed I knew about business being truly global. Many of these interactions, as well as those with my peers in the class, challenged me to consider my MBA experience, as well as my career, in a completely new light.
One of the things that I appreciate most about the evening MBA program is being able to share experiences with peers and learn from them the ways in which they are deploying the theories learned in the classroom to practical applications in their career field. We can read in a book about the rapid economic expansion of China or discuss the theories that describe how this growth is possible. But to actually witness and observe and talk with the business professionals that are operating in this region adds another layer to our understanding. These people are the ones who are developing and implementing strategy to capture the unparalleled growth of this region. Having the opportunity to be exposed to this type of thinking was a great way to enrich my classroom studies.
One of the challenges of the trip was coordinating my schedule to provide for such an extended time away from the office. I had to spend quite a bit of time both preparing to be gone as well as playing catch-up when I made it back to the office. However, I must say that it was well worth it and I encourage anybody that is thinking about a study abroad trip to make it happen!