Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GLOBASE Guatemala: A Global Exchange of Ideas

By Justin Delaney,
First-year MBA, Entrepreneurial Management Academy
Professor Phil Powell leads a case discussion for GLOBASE Guatemala.

In the MBA Core, we learned how to apply concepts.  We read cases and took exams.  We had lively classroom discussions and forged ahead amid exciting job searches.  It was enriching.  It was challenging.  And it prepared us for what was next.

What was next?  For a first year Kelley MBA, the second semester is filled with real world projects and applying the concepts of MBA learning to fix business problems on a global scale.  At Kelley, we collaborate in teams and strive to make our mark by assisting businesses in a variety of fields.  I am personally on three teams tasked with helping real businesses solve real problems.  From commercializing a biotech patent here in the states to helping a steel company in Guatemala better understand its cost structure to designing a transitive fuel marketing plan for a Canadian energy firm, these projects have taught me to cope with the ambiguities and challenges of the real world.  My teams are great, and among my ten teammates across these three teams, seven countries are represented.  It is truly a global exchange of ideas.

Nowhere is this global component more evident than with GLOBASE Guatemala.  GLOBASE is a consulting project where students from the Kelley School of Business use their business knowledge to solve problems for a number of Guatemalan businesses, from small to large.  Several businesses are represented and the projects span the spectrum from supply chain to marketing.  For my team project, we are helping a steel company called Prodinox recover from the global recession. 

The GLOBASE Classroom Experience
With GLOBASE, the stakes are high, and the payoff is even higher - making a difference in the future of a business that may be perched precariously at a crossroads of growth.  To prepare Kelley students for this level of engagement, we are dropped into a realm of learning.  In the GLOBASE classroom, we examine the economic and cultural structure of Guatemala.  We listen to speeches from experts on consulting and social entrepreneurship.  We prepare with cases documenting both the detritus of multinational exploitation in Guatemala and the champions that build the country up.  We do all these things so that when we go to Guatemala, we can simply do what we need to do – make a real difference.

At the heart of our GLOBASE classroom preparation is Kelley School of Business MBA faculty chair Phil Powell.  Phil is a dynamo of southern charisma who worships at the altar of global economics.  Just to capture a picture of him for my lead atop this blog, I had to steady my hand and increase shutter speed to a level normally reserved for speed skaters and Usain Bolt.  He engages the classroom with a flurry of engagement and shepherds us towards the final goal of making the businesses we interact with better.  As the Indiana Jones of economics, he brings a unique blend of strategy and understanding to our preparation.  All of this preparation ensures that when class ends and the real world begins, Kelley MBAs will be there and we will be ready.

The GLOBASE experience is the pinnacle of global learning at Kelley.  Students form consulting teams based around business problems in far-off countries such as Guatemala, India, and Ghana.  The teams are assigned to companies and the projects range from microfinance to marketing to operations to strategy.  

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