Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Online MBA Students Gain Cultural Intelligence by Consulting for Businesses in Emerging Markets

Kelley Direct teaches current and future managers to make tough decisions and solve problems through hands-on experiential learning. One of our innovative programs that accomplishes this is AGILE–our Accelerating Global Immersion Leadership Education classes that take students into emerging markets around the globe.

We believe that students don’t learn leadership by just studying great leaders in a classroom. Students become leaders by getting their hands dirty. AGILE teaches students team dynamics, leadership and cultural intelligence while exposing them to international business, consulting and entrepreneurship. Our students know how to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

The businesses chosen for the Kelley Direct AGILE program vary in needs. Some are struggling while others are already successful and looking to expand. They come from a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail and service.

The stakes are high and failure is not an option. There are real economic consequences–for the business, for the family that owns the business, and for the surrounding community.

How the Kelley Direct Global Immersion Course Works

During the 12-week course, students spend a majority of their time collaborating from wherever they live – just like every other Kelley Direct online MBA course. In many of the AGILE courses, the students come together to meet the business owner in the United States early in the quarter. Towards the end of the course, students fly to the chosen country to get a better understanding of the business climate there and to help implement their proposal.

Students analyze the needs of individual small businesses within the local market to determine the challenges and opportunities. Then, they formulate a plan of action that results in a measurable, positive impact and present it to the business owners and faculty.

What Online MBA Students Learn from the AGILE Experience

We believe that the best way to teach someone to be a leader is to appeal to his or her emotions. It takes longer for our brains to learn intellectually than emotionally. In these situations, students feel and internalize the problems the business faces. This is one way we accelerate learning at Kelley Direct and train our students on leadership agility.

Kelley Direct MBA Students already learn how to evaluate business models from a Western world point of view in most classes – AGILE exposes them to the  non-Western view. They gain cultural intelligence, which is a vital skill in today’s global economy. Many Fortune 500 leaders attribute their inability to meet company growth goals to their lack of leaders who can manage across borders. Managers will have to learn to communicate effectively and comfortably with colleagues in a variety of countries to stay competitive.

Humility is also an important part of being a manager. Our MBA naturally brings out the humility in students while exposing them to unfamiliar business environments. Jonathan Pankiw, a student who recently went to South Africa for a Kelley Direct AGILE course, had this to say about doing business there, “You can’t throw money at a problem to solve it – it forced us to be innovative.” This is why we take our MBA students to emerging markets.


Upcoming Kelley Direct AGILE Course

The next AGILE course for Summer 2014 is going to Gaborone, Botswana. From late June to early August, teams will interact remotely with the client and complete research to determine a plan of action. In August, students will have one work week in Botswana to complete tasks and generate a high quality final deliverable for the client.

The clients for the 2014 AGILE class include:
  • All Kasi Clothing Company, an athletic clothing company
  • Eluve Company, a manufacturer of black shoe polish and household cleaning products
  • Wild Fruits of Africa, a production facility that converts indigenous fruits and plant products to food, cosmetics and medicine
  • Dips Motors, a manufacturing and installation company that focuses on CV joints, engine mountings, prop shafts and gear boxes for automobiles and other vehicles
  • Sunrise Travel and Tours, a travel company focusing on inbound and outbound trips

By PhilPowell, Faculty Chair of Kelley Direct

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