November 26, 2012

What Does it Mean to be an International MBA?

Post by:
Kim Ramsdell
International MBA 2013

What exactly does it mean to be an International MBA student at BU? People ask me this question all the time; mostly because they assume it means a class made up of students from outside the US and yet, here I am – your ‘typical’ American. So then what does it mean?

Untamed curiosity. Adventure-seeking. Insatiable wanderlust. Desire to make a difference.

These are the words and phrases that come to mind when I think about my IMBA classmates.  When I first started this program less than a year ago, I had never left the United States but that didn’t mean I lacked curiosity and adventure-seeking. In fact, the newness of the experiences made me even more open to the lessons I could learn – and my classmates also helped me expand my perspectives, from the cultural and historic to the culinary and social.

View of the Forbidden City
One of my greatest memories in China happened by accident. After an exhausting day walking through the Forbidden City, two classmates and I decided to climb to the peak of Jingshan Park where you can get a view of the entire Forbidden City – truly breathtaking. As we started our descent, we could hear the sound of people singing but we couldn’t tell where it was coming from. We decided to walk down the mountain the hard way, towards the sound.  We found ourselves surrounded by various groups of people all over this public park. Some singing. Some playing instruments. Others dancing. I had never seen anything like it.  I was so taken by the sights and sounds that I found myself joining in a traditional dance along with my classmates.  What made this so powerful was that I was completely immersed in the culture; I had put my camera down and participated rather than observed and truly connected with the culture around me.

My experience in China along with the daily learning experiences from my classmates has only intensified my desire for more. I now realize that I still have so much to learn about the world: the people of the world and how their interactions differ from my norm; the corporations of the world and how they interact within their own country’s political systems as well as within the global economy; and how I can use my unique set of skills and experiences to make a difference.

Students enjoy a bike ride in Shanghai
My next adventure begins in January when I set out for Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of a field seminar with BU. This trip allows students to understand the changing role of sustainable business development and corporate social responsibility in emerging economies. I’m excited for another unique set of social, cultural, and business learning experiences.

When I graduate next spring from the one-year International MBA program, I will have been to China, Japan, Brazil, and a yet-to-be-named country for spring break (Iceland in March is a good idea, right?). In addition, I will have completed a consulting project for a nonprofit currently supporting improvement in health, nutrition, and education of communities in Guatemala.

So what does it really mean to be an International MBA student at BU?  Having a desire to learn and understand people, cultures, and business practices of all types while creating value for the world.  My IMBA class is a microcosm of the world in and of itself with classmates from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America. Despite our differences, the intense three-month bonding experience in China has made us a family and being part of it has changed my life. 

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Kim is an International MBA student with experience in operations improvement and growth strategy. If you ever want to go biking around Boston, Kim is the one to talk to. Just don’t try keeping up.

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