International Trip Gives MBA Student Broader Vision for Future Business

June 7, 2024
Baylor MBA students abroad holding BU MBA and McBride Worldwide flags

MBA student Hunter Walker returned from a trip to Barcelona with fresh ideas and perspectives for his future dentistry practice. 

For students enrolled in an MBA program at Baylor’s Hankamer School for Business, “We’ll fling our Green and Gold afar” is not just a line from the School Song—it is a fitting description of their commitment to global leadership.

"Global leadership is more than working internationally,” Dawn Carlson, H. R. Gibson Chair of Organizational Development, said. “Some of our students will go on to work abroad, but those who live and work in the U.S. are still likely to work with colleagues, serve customers and manage supply chains in a global context. It is imperative that we prepare our students for this reality by imparting a global mindset.” 

Dawn plans and leads an international trip for each cohort of full-time MBA students, which includes students with a healthcare administration specialization. Hunter Walker, an MBA student on a Pre-Clinical Track, joined last year’s weeklong MBA trip to Barcelona. A recent medical humanities graduate, Hunter pursued an MBA to gain a better grounding in the economics of healthcare before attending dental school and one day opening his own dental practice. This extra year has given him more than an in-depth knowledge of balance sheets and payment structures—it has provided a richer perspective on the challenges and opportunities of delivering care in a U.S. context.

Innovation in focus

For some MBA students, the international trip is their first foray abroad. For students like Hunter, who grew up traveling extensively with his family, the trip is a less daunting perspective.

“But whatever a student’s experience, there is always some element of growing and strengthening,” Dawn said. “Traveling and working overseas are two different things. Someone can visit the Eiffel Tower without any idea of what it is like to work in Paris.”

The trip carved out time for quintessential tourist activities such as visiting the ever-changing Sagrada Familia cathedral and exploring Parc Güell, but most of the week was devoted to company visits that illuminated specific aspects of Spanish business and culture. 

In the class leading up to the trip, general MBA students tackled a consulting project for a Barcelona-based eco-bike company. Once in the country, they met with company executives and presented recommendations on how the company could expand to new markets in Europe. They visited SAP, a software company, and explored how the unique political environment in Catalonia, where Barcelona is situated, shaped the way the company operated. They also toured a small winery and spoke with the owners about the unique challenges and opportunities of running a family-owned business.

Hunter and his fellow healthcare students followed a different itinerary, taking the opportunity to learn about health innovation in a European context. 

From visits to the Barcelona Health Hub and Parc Cientific de Barcelona, a local research center, they learned about emerging innovations that are poised to reshape the healthcare industry. For Hunter, a standout meeting with the CEO of a startup called Mediktor offered a keyhole into the future. Using AI tools that record symptoms and predict diagnoses, Mediktor aims to improve the speed and quality of care while addressing the strain caused by provider shortages.

“AI is not going anywhere; we are only at the beginning,” Hunter said. “It was encouraging to see that there are bright minds thinking about how to integrate AI into every aspect of healthcare. By the time my generation of providers enters practice, we will begin to reap the harvest of their hard work.” 

For Hunter, a visit to a pediatric hospital called Sant Joan de Déu was the most memorable day of the trip. 

“I plan to work in pediatric dentistry, so to see an entire facility dedicated to the care of children was meaningful for me,” Hunter said. 

The four pillars of the organization—prioritizing the patient, parents, pain-free and play—reflected a commitment that aligned with his most deeply held values. The emphasis on play, in particular, has stayed with him. From kicking around soccer balls to riding down slides that run parallel to staircases, children at Sant Joan de Déu have endless opportunities to engage with their environment in a carefree way. 

“Sant Joan de Déu is changing the notion that a hospital is somewhere you feel sick and sad,” Hunter said. “I left feeling so inspired to craft a similar experience in my future pediatric dental clinic. They painted a beautiful portrait of what I want to accomplish on behalf of my own patients.” 

Better global citizens

In addition to company visits, MBA students with a healthcare specialization were paired with counterparts from IESE, a leading business school with a Barcelona campus. Hunter, who served as Baylor’s student body president for the 2022-23 academic year, was paired with the president of a healthcare-related group within IESE.

“My counterpart, Carlos, and I came from different countries and contexts, but we bonded over our shared vision for leadership in the healthcare space,” Hunter said. “It was a powerful thing to learn about his journey and imagine myself in his shoes.”

Through conversations with Carlos and other Spanish health professionals during the trip, Hunter gained more than an inside look at a single-payer system in a different cultural context. He developed a more clear-eyed perspective on the U.S. health system. 

“My experience really drove home the point that there is no perfect health system,” Hunter said. “The U.S. has an imperfect means of delivering care, and so does Spain. Our job is to learn from each other and draw from the best parts of each system for the benefit of our patients.”

He returned to Waco more hopeful and more thoughtful than ever about how to structure his future dental practice. 

"Wherever they aspire to lead, our MBA students return from their international trip with a broader view of what they want to accomplish,” Dawn said. “Ultimately, they become better global citizens as a result.” 

Are you ready to experience business in a global setting? Click here to learn more about Baylor’s MBA program or fill out the form here to speak directly with an Enrollment Coordinator.