Monday, January 30, 2012

GLOBASE Guatemala: Thoughts From The Leadership Team

By Matt Hallingstad
Second-Year MBA
Academy: Consumer Marketing


Matt Hallingstad
As noted by my fellow leadership team member Mark Rossi in his November 1, 2011 post, the various GLOBASE leadership teams underwent some leadership training in late fall.  Part of that training entailed the development of vision for GLOBASE Guatemala.  After a lot of hard work, we developed the following vision: “To transform students by empowering them to effect positive change in international environments.”

Though the GLOBASE experience lasts ten weeks, students have less than eight working weeks to get to know their clients and their clients’ businesses, identify the critical business issues and related key management questions, conduct the necessary research and analysis, and deliver their final recommendations to the clients.  And they accomplish all of that while adjusting to student life after the Core and working hard to land coveted internships.   

To set our students up for success under those conditions and truly deliver on our vision, we had to dramatically overhaul the syllabus. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but the revised syllabus delivers the training the students need to be successful through all phases of the project, but all of the training comes “just in time.”  In the first week of class, for example, the students learned about Guatemala, conducting business in Latin America, and scoping a project.  The very next week, the Guatemalan clients visited Bloomington and students spent two days putting that training to use in getting to know the clients and their business, scoping the business issues, and identifying the key management questions. GLOBASE is not a marathon; it is a sprint, and the revised syllabus reflects that.  Ultimately, if all goes as planned, the students will undergo a pretty fundamental transformation in the way they look at the world and the way they attack business problems, clients will come away with the kind of sound recommendations that only well-prepared MBAs can deliver, and both will come away with friendships that last a lifetime.

The client visit itself is one of the many highlights of the GLOBASE experience.  All seven of our clients came to Bloomington this year, arriving in Indianapolis on Wednesday, January 18.  Tim, Mark, and I picked them up and brought them back to Bloomington, dropping them off at the Memorial Union so they could check in and unwind a bit.  The clients were very energetic during the trip to B-Town, asking many questions about us, Indiana, and the GLOBASE program.

Students enjoy dinner with their client, David Obregon from Mayita.
After giving the clients a bit of time to rest, the clients, the entire leadership team, and Phil and Ana gathered for dinner at Scholar’s Inn at 8 pm.  It was a delightful 3.5 hours and really started to solidify the relationships between the clients and the GLOBASE leadership team.

The next morning, all four of the leadership team members took the clients to Target and College Mall.  Yep, we went shopping!  The clients loved it; they always do.  In fact, next year, the shopping session will probably be lengthened by an hour or two.   After shopping, there was a lunch at the IUCenter for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, a tour of Kelley, a tour of the IU Art Museum, and a brief walking tour of the IU campus. 

At 7:30 that evening, the clients and their teams gathered for dinner with their team coach.  Students may have been a bit nervous at the start of dinner, not quite sure how the evening would go or what they would say, but by 3:30 am, when the last of the clients and students left the Dunnkirk and made their way back to their beds for a few hours of rest, it was clear that some pretty solid relationships had been established.

At 8:30 am the next morning, I drove to the Union to pick up two clients for some interviews with the IU Center for International Business Education & Research.  The interviews were videotaped and will be integrated with the growing collection of media documenting Indiana University’s significant international exposure.

After the completion of the interviews, I turned over one client to Tim and I took the other (Eunice, representing a Guatemalan nonprofit called Mujeres Buscando Alternativas) to Upland Brewery, where we met her team for lunch.  As lunch wrapped up, I left the client in the capable hands of the team for the afternoon.  All seven GLOBASE teams spent the afternoon (from about 1-7 pm) working with their respective clients, eventually narrowing the discussion from general business information to critical issues and key management questions. 

After the lengthy work session, all clients and team members (along with Phil and Ana) enjoyed a celebratory dinner in the Federal Room of the Union.  A large number of us went to Nick’s English Hut after dinner and, of course, a few of the clients enjoyed a round or two of Sink the Biz.  By this point in time, the leadership team was confident that the first phase of GLOBASE (establishing the client-team relationship and setting the tone for the entire experience) was a resounding success.  Our hard work in the late fall and over the winter break had paid off and we were off and running.  I love it when a plan comes together.

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