The IE Brown eMBA clearly states it is one that “goes beyond the boundaries of traditional business education”. As students, we interact with a combination of theory and case-based knowledge, which leads to fascinating conversations and ideation. The program’s mix of business and humanities is rare, if not unique in the MBA realm, and if Mark Cuban is right, we are heading in the right direction.
Since inspired is probably an overused word for describing experiences these days, I would say that the IE Brown program provides an assurance and reinforces confidence in ourselves that in this ever-changing world, we are as prepared as we can be. With this mindset and an upcoming move from Dubai back to my home city of New York last September, I decided to take the long way home. In total the trip would span 126 days, 12 countries, 4 continents and 1 very important semester of the IE Brown eMBA. During this time, I would immerse myself in the experience, while uncovering connections between coursework and real-world situations.
With a Key Reflection Project that focuses on how companies can win with agile workers, I saw the journey as a perfect opportunity for me to perform first-person ethnographic research as a remote worker. From having an A-Team conference call at a beach hotel in the Philippines (while a band was playing behind me) to developing Marketing Strategy on the Reunification Train in Vietnam and writing papers on my mobile just about anywhere, I understood more about the challenges and opportunities of a remote worker.
When the final paper was announced for ‘Natural Collections’ and the topic was providing innovative recommendations to an industry or company to prevent biodiversity loss, I had a perfect subject on the schedule. Laos is heavily reliant on its forests and has many policies in place to protect them, including ecotourism businesses. For 3 days on The Gibbon Experience, a group of 8 people including my wife and me hiked in the Nam Kan National Park, zip lined between trees that were hundreds of meters high and slept in treehouses. Afterwards, I wrote the paper about The Gibbon Experience and ways which they could grow their business by $800,000+ to connect with more people and have these funds to further protect the forest.
This particular semester of October-January was a perfect choice for a trip since we focused much of our time as a group on ‘Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Developing Regions’. While the geographic focus of the course was South Africa in preparation for our in-person session in Cape Town in January, many of the principals and frameworks were relevant for countries that I traveled through. Thailand, Indonesia and Madagascar each opened my eyes to new levels of development and insights on how people have progressed.
So other than some interesting stories and my fair share of Asian street noodles, what did I take away from this trip?
Experiential learning enhances education. As the world becomes more digital, it has never been more important to connect with the physical and human world around us. Choosing an eMBA, especially one that includes humanities is a step that brings you closer to people. Doing this program while experiencing the world around you gives first-hand experience of what you’re studying.
Thinking time is productive. In the day-to-day schedule of life, doing is typically prioritized. Despite the wisdom of the Einstein quote about spending 59 of the 60 minutes thinking when trying to solve a problem, we are quick to rush to action and supply output. Instead, when I spent more time thinking of what I was going to write than actually writing, I found my thoughts to be clearer and deeper.
Locations, people, cultures and their development are more connected than they first appear. These connections provide insight into the opportunities that exist in the world. One of these could turn into your next business idea or help you uncover a passion point that you’d like to spend more time on.