01 Mar 2012
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1st-Year MBAs Learn from Global Partners

by Professor Youngme Moon

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The world became HBS students’ classroom in January as the entire first-year class spent a week learning hands-on what it takes to do business in foreign markets.

After nearly three months of classroom preparation, teams of MBAs arrived January 8 in 12 cities in 10 developing countries, where they worked to complete new product or service projects for 140 partner organizations. (A small number of students who could not travel worked on projects in the Boston area.)

The global excursions were Module 2 of the new, yearlong required FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development) course, which is designed to hone student skills in leadership, global understanding, and integrative thinking.

“The Global Intelligence Module reflects our commitment to increasing students’ global awareness and to providing action-based, integrated learning experiences,” said HBS professor Youngme Moon, senior associate dean and chair of the MBA Program.

Students began preparing for their global projects in early October when they were assigned to six-member teams and learned which partner organization they would work with. Over the ensuing weeks, they acquired a broad understanding of product development via regular MBA courses. The teams also learned about the business environment of their immersion destination and developed a suitable product or service idea. Upon arriving at their immersion location, students refined their ideas by meeting with potential customers and their sponsor organization. At the end of the week, they presented a final proposal.

While focused on students, the FIELD global immersions demonstrated the power of the School’s global network of alumni and friends, dozens of whom stepped up to sponsor 152 student team projects.

First-year MBAs weren’t the only HBS students taking part in global experiences during the January Term. Some 133 second-year students traveled to six countries to conduct field and project work as part of the School’s Immersion Experience Program (IXP), now in its seventh year.

Culminating the week for both groups, FIELD and IXP students and accompanying HBS faculty and staff took part in alumni-hosted events in 18 cities around the globe. For alumni, it was an opportunity to learn firsthand about the School’s new FIELD course and global initiatives.

On February 8, representatives from many of the global partner organizations traveled to campus for a daylong partners’ celebration. David Rubenstein, cofounder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, presented the keynote address.

View a FIELD Global Partners list.

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