Five Reasons Why Baylor EMBA Immerses Students in a Global Business Environment

August 29, 2023
DEMBA Intl Trip

Five Reasons Why Baylor EMBA Immerses Students in a Global Business Environment

By Suzi Morales

The annual Dallas Executive MBA (EMBA) international trip could be subtitled “A Tale of Two Cities.” Nearly every year since 1995, students from the program have traveled to a duo of international cities, selected for their diversity, range of businesses, and current business and political climate.

The 2023 trip was no different, as students visited Barcelona and Copenhagen, where they met with business leaders at companies ranging from the Port of Barcelona to a Danish clean energy company. The trip is the culmination of Professor Gary Carini’s Global Strategic Management class. It has become a focal point of the Dallas EMBA program, illustrating how – and why – Baylor University Hankamer School of Business immerses students in a global business environment.

1. Diversity of Perspective

Carini and EMBA staff identify possible city pairs, in part identifying places where companies that might be of particular interest to students are. One of the goals is to match the set of industries represented among students with companies the class might be able to visit. After Carini narrows the city pairs to two options, students vote for their favorite. Throughout the semester, class discussions include developments in the countries they will be visiting. Student groups research each country, city and company on the itinerary and present their findings to the entire class.

Business visits can include everything from small, family-owned businesses to the regional offices of major international corporations. The 2023 itinerary reflected that mix. Visits included Familia Torres, a family-owned vineyard in Spain that today sells to consumers around the world; Agreena, a Danish company that provides incentives for sustainable carbon farming; and conversations with executives from Microsoft and Hewlett Packard.

Graydon Bazell, EMBA ’23, participated in the 2023 trip. For him, the most inspirational speaker was Frederic Llordachs, the self-described “grandpa of digital health in Spain.” Llordachs has created multiple healthcare startup ventures, most recently Doctomatic, a remote patient-monitoring app. Bazell related to the speaker because he also is in the healthcare industry and is in the early stages of creating a startup.

But Bazell also took away important lessons from the established, global brand of Familia Torres.

“Their presentation was just terrific because it showed a company that was dynamic and not afraid to pivot and how essential it is to change in order to stay alive,” he said.

2. Access and Vulnerability

During the international trip, students are able to speak candidly with high-level executives and entrepreneurs. Carini says the conversations often go to what’s worked and what hasn’t as a company innovates. He notes that it’s important to maintain the candidness of discussions, enabling companies to speak about changes or pivots in their strategies.

“There was a consistency across a majority of the speakers who were working to change the status quo of their respective industries who had failed at least a few times already along the way,” Cameron Barbier, EMBA ’23, wrote on the discussion board where students posted throughout the trip. “I found this to be encouraging, that despite not being immediately successful they kept trying, testing and working to improve their pieces of their industries.”

3. Practical Takeaways

During the trip, Carini and students often discuss how they can implement what they’ve learned at their own companies. He says they are open to new ideas and counterintuitive perspectives.

“Being in that international setting increases the likelihood you’re interfacing with companies from which you can glean ideas for your own company,” Carini said.

Students commented that they would take the discussions with various companies about ESG initiatives back to educate themselves on ESG and identify and develop ESG plans that fit their companies. Students also noted how the trip encouraged them to take risks and re-think their career paths.

Often, “their current thinking is challenged or reaffirmed,” Carini said. “That’s gold."

4. Lessons on Leadership

“Leadership shows its face in very different ways,” observed Carini. The Dallas EMBA international trip exposes students to some of these many faces of leadership.

Several students on the 2023 trip commented on the leadership style of Filiz Akdede, general manager of large format printing at Hewlett Packard. Now based in Barcelona, Akdede was previously recognized by The Economist as one of the ten most powerful women CEOs in Turkey. During her conversation with EMBA students, she emphasized that building a holistic and inclusive company culture where employees are trusted and empowered is an important part of leadership.

“One of my takeaways from the talk with Filiz was when she said that, ‘As leaders, it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on around you and make [an] effort to notice those who may be unconsciously excluded,’” Tobe Nneji, EMBA ’23, wrote on the message board. “That struck me. The onus is on leaders to pull in the diverse voices and open up room for everyone to be seen and heard.”

5. Culture

The trip isn’t all business. It falls at the end of the EMBA program and gives students an immersive cultural experience as well. They toured landmarks and enjoyed dining in both of the cities.

For example, the visit to the Familia Torres vineyard included a five-course lunch with wine tasting.

“That was quite the experience. I was a little bit blown away,” Bazell said. “The whole trip was just flawless, start to finish.”

Throughout the trip, students shared their impressions of the cultural aspects of the experience in addition to the business takeaways. They weighed in on everything from the food culture and strong regional identity in Barcelona, the center of the Catalunya region, to the sense of trust among citizens in Copenhagen, where people frequently leave their bicycles unlocked and children in baby carriages outside shops.

In all, the Dallas EMBA international trip provides a fresh perspective and an opportunity for students to apply all they’ve learned during the Executive MBA program as they go forward in their careers.

“I am inspired by many of the companies we visited and their entrepreneurial spirit of ownership to make our world a better place to live,” Amy Jantz wrote. “It goes to show that one person really can make a difference so...why not me?”

What's Next

Are you ready for more real-world applications in your own workplace? Learn more about Baylor’s Dallas-based EMBA program here or fill out the form below to speak directly with an admissions advisor.

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