Every year, Foster MBA students get to travel the world as part of long-term MBA exchange programs or on short-term study tours/projects, led by the Global Business Center. This is Peter Kazarian’s account of the March ’15 study tour in Japan. Super jealous.
Posts Tagged ‘travel’
To be honest, one of the main reasons I chose to apply to the Foster MBA program was for its excellent exchange programs with 16 partner schools in 14 countries around the world, which include Japan. I had always wanted to do an exchange program in Japan.
As I recall my study abroad experience and think about how to fit an extraordinary 4-month experience in one short blog, all my senses are awakened once again as if I’m seeing the beautiful red autumn leaves, eating a plate of fresh sushi and meditating in a quiet temple.
To me, Japan is a land of inspiration. Beauty lies in everything, from the Japanese language to the sophisticated art forms, but this beauty is not obvious on the surface. One must carefully observe and learn about Japan to fully appreciate it. In Osaka (a major city in Japan), people call a potato “o-imo-san,” where only “imo” means potato. “o” is a term which is used to show respect, “san” is a suffix used after a person’s name to show affection. In brief, people from Osaka call a potato something like “Dear Mr. Potato.” The Japanese rock garden is an art form in itself, composed by an arrangement of rocks, trees and sand which create different forms and images. The largest rock garden in Japan, which I’ve seen and really liked, depicts the image of a pair of dragons emerging from a sea of clouds.These are just two among tons of examples showing the uniqueness, creativity and inspiration the Japanese culture carries.
As exchange students in Japan, we got a chance to grasp the creativity of Japan in an MBA elective at Waseda Business school called Creative Thinking and Ethics in Business. Nobody would expect to have such a class in an MBA program where you learn abstract painting, talk about meditation and the different functions of the left and right brain. It was one of my favorite classes at Waseda. In a nutshell, the class taught us how to practice creativity through understanding which side of the brain we use more often, through abstract painting to express feelings and how important creativity is to various fields of life, including business. We also learned about intriguing research on the difference between a native Japanese speaker’s brain and the brain of those with other native languages, which explains why the Japanese love the sounds of insects and their counterparts don’t. This class, to me, provides excellent evidence of the fact that creativity is an integral part of the Japanese way of doing things.
Inspiration came from not only the language, the art, and the classes, but also from the people I met. A young Japanese couple who has two little boys hosted me in Kyoto for several days. Since they have kids they could not travel, even though they both love travelling and learning about new cultures. Instead, they host visitors from around the world who come to Japan to exchange culture and ideas. Spending a wonderful time eating, talking with them and their friends, and playing with the boys made me think about my future family. It would be a great idea to host international guests once I have my own family. I’d love to bring in people from around the world who come visit my country, to share stories and experiences with them.
In a few words, this is how I remember Japan: beautiful natural scenery, mesmerizing old streets and houses, unique and exciting culture, and delicious food. And yes, the slogan of its tourism industry is absolutely correct: Endless discovery. Yet, all these features seem static. Thinking about them will bring me back to some points in time in the past. There is one thing I took from Japan that I know will go with me for a very long time: Inspiration.
MBA Candidate, Class of 2015
In December, a group of MBA students took part in the Global Study Tour to China. Accompanied by staff and faculty, they visited Shanghai and Beijing and visited 12 companies while exploring the cultural and economic landscape of China. Below is a recap written by current student Ryan Osher (MBA ’16).
Growth. Scale. Partnership.
These were common themes noticed by 8 Foster MBA’s as they traveled across China last December. Their visit included 12 companies and 3 days worth of free time to enjoy all the best Beijing and Shanghai had to offer. Students were eager to dive in to China’s culture and present themselves on behalf of Foster. What they didn’t expect, however, was just how meaningful the company visits would be and the lasting friendships that were made.
The two week trip included visits to Microsoft, Amazon, and Nike, to name a few. Students learned Boeing’s strategy to maintain growth in China, directly from the President of Boeing China. They met with the CFO of Starbucks China to better understand how the world’s largest coffee company was able to successfully enter and thrive in a tea drinking country. In addition, Directors at Apple explained their strategy to navigate around counterfeit products and maintain their growth rate. Students also met with foreign service agents from the United States Embassy to better understand trade relations and diplomatic efforts between the US and China.
The two week trip provided rich experiences and a lifetime of insight. More than anything, the company visits left each traveler with a greater understanding and appreciation for China as the country continues to drive the world’s economic growth. It is incredible that Foster provides students with the opportunity to experience culture and business first-hand as they develop into the global business leaders of the future.
I always wanted to visit South America and get a taste of the culture. When the opportunity to go to Argentina for a study tour presented itself, I couldn’t help but sign-up for it. I had a fantastic experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and I’m sure the ten other students and two faculty members that I traveled with are nodding their head yes in agreement.
Foster tried a different model this time for study tours. Instead of being student-led like in the past, they were school-led. While this restricted student leadership opportunities, it was very well organized and we got a chance to learn and soak-in everything around us. Before leaving Seattle, each student owned researching of 1-2 companies and presented a background of the company to set the stage for visits when we reached Argentina. In Argentina, we met with executives from various companies that spanned across various industries. Big firms like KPMG, Microsoft and US Commercial Services to start-ups like Remolino (a graphic design and creative studio), Natural Deli (a proponent of natural and organic products) and GoodPeople (a global platform that connects all aspects of the sports community). Other companies of interest included Bimbo (a baking company), Zanella (motorcycle manufacturer), Medix (medical devices), LAC-CORE (renewable energy) and Nieto Senetiner (A wine pioneer in Argentina). We even visited the well-known Football club River Plate. Upon our return we presented our insights from the trip and how we thought we could use this knowledge in our own businesses in the future.
All throughout our trip and company visits it was evident that Argentine culture is rich – the people, language, food, mate (tea), wine, art, tango, architecture, et. al. personify it. This is also reflected in their style of doing business.
Argentinians take pride in their traditions and the wealth of the past. They still haven’t forgotten their roots. Despite the fact that the economy is not doing so good, inflation is through the roof, currency is extremely volatile, the government vetoes every decision, and corruption is prominent; they have faith that the country will prevail and become a prominent global player.
Everyone we met was really hospitable and just really nice. They were honest and poured their heart out, whether it was about their companies, work styles, government, inflation issues, or even their personal lives. Relationships really meant a lot to them, and it was evident in their interaction and communication. In most cases, relationships formed the pillars of their businesses. It also meant that if you wanted to start a company in Argentina, you’d have to have a connection/ contact in Argentina.
The people were super warm and generous. We were fed really well by everyone, be it at the steakhouses or at the companies we visited. Every meeting started with a spread of yummy treats, pastries filled with Dulce de leche, tea, coffee, wine, etc. Argentinians take pride in sharing their Yerba Mate (tea) and was a way for them to bond. It was the same homely feeling I got, every place we visited.
Tango is a dance that originated in Argentina – passionate, complex and authentic. Football (Soccer) is another thing that Argentinians are very passionate about. (We were fortunate enough to witness both these live J) I soon realized that this passion was an integral part of their personality. We met young entrepreneurs that had established respectable positions in the industry because of this zeal. We also met leaders of big firms who were determined enough to maintain their stand while navigating the red oceans of the competitive market. They were smart, intelligent, and ready to take on the world.
It was such a wonderful trip, will go back in a heartbeat to the country and to the beautiful people we met. “Una mas, por favor!”
~ Guest blog post by Saloni Sonpol – Evening Class of 2014
I am from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This probably conjures up thoughts of pristine sandy beaches, sailing on the blue seas, and Dawson’s Creek. Although I grew up in a place famous for the seafood, I must admit I have never actually procured the seafood on my own, whether on the Cape or elsewhere. This all changed at the annual Women in Business retreat.
Each year, the Women in Business Club hosts a weekend-long retreat. Members and non-members alike travel to a “remote” location and get away from the mayhem of everyday business program life. This year’s house on Hood Canal literally sat on the water, and our first order of business was to forage for snacks. Armed with rakes and a big bucket, we started digging for clams. I dug up my first clam (see picture for proof)! On the short walk home, we walked through the oyster fields and easily plucked them from their beds. I did not participate in the subsequent shucking, but I definitely enjoyed the results the next night when we feasted on steamed clams and fried oysters.
Aside from clamming for the first time, it was a weekend filled with other adventuresincluding:
- A riveting and competitive card game
- A scramble golf “tournament”
- Midnight kayaking through the phosphorescence algae
- S’mores and more s’mores
- Scary stories around the campfire
Of course, there was much more, but the rule “what happens at the retreat stays at the retreat” has my lips sealed. When you join Foster, though, let me recommend you join WiB. And definitely attend the retreat – you won’t regret it!
~Guest Blogger Carly Massey, Full-time Class of 2012, former WiB President
In November, we followed up on our New York trip with a round 2 visit to San Francisco. This is a shorter trip, with just 1 full day of company visits, but just as valuable as our visit to New York City. Being on the West Coast, we have a lot of alumni connections in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
As you may have read in various articles on tips for anyone who wants to get into investment banking, switch to a new career, or relocate in general, such trips can help you access three of the most important keys to transition: connections, connections, connections.
Through in-person and follow-up interactions over time, our name and personal profile gets circulated in the San Francisco investment banker circle. The alumni connections we make on these trips are also great sources for information interviews, through which we can learn more about the company, industry and city from the inside. Moreover, alumni are often tremendously helpful in polishing a resume for the industry. Finally, they would be the perfect mock interview partner as they are often hiring managers themselves and can give pointers.
The Finance Road Shows got us the first “in”; now it will be up to us to follow through.
~Guest Blogger Kim Chan, Full-Time Class of 2013
Here’s a little known fact: the Michael G. Foster Finance Society has been connecting UW Foster MBA students with investment bankers in New York City though an annual Finance Road Show.
UW is not your typical Finance school; we are not one of the few “core schools” that investment banks pick and choose from. But our school has no less hardworking and determined MBA students who are interested in pursuing a career in Finance.
We demonstrated our desire to go the extra 2,852 miles by going to New York City for 2 solid days of firm visits. We met with various representatives from different departments of several banks and with Husky alumni in New York. It was a tremendous opportunity to make connection on the East Coast, and learn insights about individual company culture and organizational structure, as well as what it would take to make a successful transition from one coast to the other.
The New York Road Show was a very well-organized trip, and I’m looking forward to our San Francisco visit in November. I would recommend those who are seriously looking to go into investment banking or relocation after graduation to take advantage of these opportunities.
Read more about the Finance Society here.
~Guest Blogger Kim Chan, Full-Time Class of 2013
Twenty five students made up of Foster MBAs as well as other UW grad programs arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on March 14th. Over the course of two weeks we explored Kenyan business, culture and life. With the guidance of three knowledgeable and enthusiastic student trip leaders, we visited a variety of companies – from start ups to giants like Winafrique (renewable energy) and KenCall to Unilever, Safaricom, Barclays, Kenya Airways, and many others. We had a chance to meet amazing business leaders with degrees from Stanford Business School and from all other parts of the world.
We drove all over Nairobi to see what life was truly like in the developing world. This included a company and site visit with Jamii Bora, Kenya’s largest microfinance firm. The leaders of the organizations afterwards took us to Kibera (one of the two largest slums in Kenya) where we got to see microfinance funding at work and lifting people from the streets into sheltered living. We also saw a school and an orphanage in a village outside of Nairobi which gave us a good perspective on the value that education has in Kenya, considering it has a 70% literacy rate.
In addition to businesses that we visited in Kenya, we also had plenty of cultural
experiences. For example, we visited Karen Blixen’s house (the subject of Out of Africa), saw the Bomas of Kenya (where traditional Kenyan tribal dances including Barack Obama’s were performed), learned and visited an elephant orphanage, fed giraffes at the giraffe center and of course we went on a three day safari. A part of the group also spent one morning on a hot air balloon ride over the African savanna seeing the sunrise and wild life early in the morning. Many of us also got to try our hand at bargaining at city markets where we gifts like masks, sculptures, paintings and jewelry.
Overall, this was a once in a lifetime experience. The feeling from the trip was that most of us could have gone on a safari on our own, but we could not have gotten an inside glimpse into a very hopeful and young economy in the developing world. This is definitely the best part of business school for me – getting to take advantage of opportunities like this one.
Guest Blogger: Helen Seliverstov, Foster MBA Class of 2011
A group of 27 Foster MBA students headed to Nebraska last week to spend the day with the Oracle of Omaha, Mr. Warren Buffett. It was supposed to be a quick trip consisting of only 24 hours in Omaha, but a mechanically faulty airplane provided us an extra night in the midwestern city and time for one more famous steak which several people took full advantage of.
Mr. Buffett graciously answered questions for two and a half hours ranging from his approach to maintaining an ethical culture at Berkshire Hathaway to explaining how he would invest $10,000 if he was a graduate student with a limited bank account balance. He was completely honest, open and consistently showed his down-to-earth sense of humor. Our favorite quote came during his answer to a question regarding the government’s intervention in the economy:
“You can’t make a baby in 1 month by getting 9 women pregnant.”
No arguments from us on that one.
It was a fabulous trip and completely stress free which we owe entirely to our amazing classmate, Meghann. She was asked by the Dean to be the lead coordinator for the trip and he clearly chose a great woman for the job. She handled all of the frustrating logistics involved in the rebooking of 27 people on a new flight back to Seattle, as well as making sure we had somewhere to sleep for our extra night in Omaha. We thank her profusely. (You can read her take on the trip over at Foster Unplugged.)
Here’s to Foster being invited back to Omaha for a third year in a row in 2011. If we are, I strongly suggest those attending think of a good pose for their few moments with Mr. Buffett. He likes role playing, clearly.
The Foster MBA Program has been invited back to Omaha, Nebraska to have lunch with Warren Buffett for the second year in a row. Not surprisingly, this is a popular opportunity amongst MBA-ers so Administration chooses the lucky 27 students through a lottery system. After trying for a spot last year and being disappointed with the results, I received notice last week that I’m on the list this year! Watch for a follow-up post and photos after the trip in February!
Omaha here we come.