MBA Students Gain International Experience in France

PCSB MBA course 695 – Global Management and International Experience – recently sent a group of thirteen MBA students, including myself, to France for a week of global learning.  The course, which consists of several classes and projects throughout the semester in addition to international travel, aims to enhance students’ global mindsets. With employers valuing international business experience more than ever, the course presents a unique opportunity for students to build this foundation.

Outside of the Palace of Versailles
Outside the Palace of Versailles

Over the course of the week, we visited sites in Paris, Versailles, Normandy, and the Champagne region.  The agenda included a variety of cultural and corporate site visits, all of which incorporated discussion of global management implications. The visits were supplemented by lectures from local professors in Paris, covering topics ranging from the economics of the European Union to the business of luxury branding.  MBA 695 professor Dr. Francine Newth also held various discussions with us throughout the week, seeking to tie together our cultural experiences and company visits.  One of the first mornings was spent at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Headquarters in Paris, where we learned about the company’s purpose.  OECD has a global mission to promote economically and socially beneficial policies. Using real data from around the world, the organization provides recommendations to governments based on fact and analysis. By setting standards and predicting trends, beneficial relationships are also formed between international businesses and the OECD. Later, visiting Schneider Electric‘s France headquarters just outside of Paris, we were given a behind-the-scenes look at the energy company’s most recent innovations. Through a tour of various showrooms throughout the headquarters, the company demonstrated a unique approach to business innovation and energy management on a global scale.

Another fascinating company visit took us to the Chapal Showroom in Paris, where we were introduced to the dynamic history and global vision of this French luxury leather brand. Hearing about the international presence of the brand, as well as its local Parisian focus, gave us a great insight into the business’s unique strategy and competitive advantage in the leather goods industry.

Later in the week we traveled to Normandy for the day, spending the morning touring the Memorial de Caen and the afternoon exploring Omaha Beach and the WWII American Cemetery and Memorial. This visit incorporated a great deal of historical learning with a unique cultural experience.  The opportunity to walk the beaches of Normandy where the D-Day landings took place was incredible, and one of the most memorable moments of the trip.

As an MBA student, this time spent abroad was an invaluable experience.  Each student was able to build meaningful relationships with a variety of international professionals, as well as a few American expats currently working in France. We returned earlier this week, and have begun to analyze the development of our global mindsets. The next step in the course is to integrate our international experiences into the rest of the semester’s projects.  We anticipate seeing progress in incorporating a new global awareness into teamwork and effective problem-solving in an international business environment.

Touring OECD Headquarters
Touring OECD Headquarters