UVA Darden School Global Program Offers Nine New Global Field Experiences
By Katherine E. Beach
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business announced nine offerings in its Global Field Experience (GFE) program — triple the number offered at the same time last year. The program also begins a new chapter in its existence. The GFE elective offering is no longer a pilot program, but a formalized one — a testament to its impact for both students and organizations.
This year’s Global Field Experiences — which offer MBA students an innovative approach to learning about global challenges — are available in Kathmandu, Manila, Nigeria, Hanoi, Amsterdam, Shandong, Thohoyandou, Stockholm and a globally focused experience within U.S. borders in Corning, New York.
Guided by a faculty adviser, students will consult remotely with sponsoring organizations in these locations over the course of the semester. In November and December, they will make on-site visits to meet with their clients face-to-face, conduct on-the-ground research and present deliverables.
Past GFEs had positive social impacts on the communities in which they took place. The most dramatic impact resulted in the formation of a startup to aid families affected by Alzheimer’s disease in Tunisia. There are plans to hold a second GFE in Tunisia in the spring of 2015.
New organizations have stepped forward to partner with Darden.
Robin Szekely is president and founder of TaskRunner AB, a web and mobile marketplace where people meet to outsource small jobs based in Stockholm, Sweden.
“We at TaskRunner are very happy to be a part of this great initiative. We are able to give the students not only a global experience and opportunity, but also a chance to work on an existing and exciting case, one in which they can actually make a difference,” Szekely said.
TaskRunner is one of the nine organizations to offer projects to students this fall in conjunction with Darden’s Center for Global Initiatives. The organizations range from large corporations, such as Corning Inc. and Tranlin Inc., to higher education institutions such as the University of Venda, the Technological Institute of the Philippines and Team Academy International School for Entrepreneurship. Other clients include a private equity company, a fabrication laboratory and a jobs listing website.
“In the last two years of piloting Global Field Experience courses, Darden students have consistently praised the powerful learning opportunity that comes from engaging a business with operating challenges in a new global context. We also heard from project sponsors around the world about the deep and meaningful impact that working with Darden students had on their organizations,” said Marc Johnson, executive director for Darden’s Center for Global Initiatives.
“The fact that this fall we are engaging almost twice as many students as in the entire first year of offering GFEs reflects the demand from our students for these learning opportunities, the willingness of our partners to engage with Darden’s talented students and the commitment of the Darden faculty and leadership to innovation and developing a global mindset,” said Johnson.
Each project gives students the opportunity to work with a real organization in real time, on a real, pressing challenge. Students apply to work on projects that interest them and teams are selected through a matching process, which incorporates client preferences. Due to the complexity of the projects, clients value team members who each bring a unique skill set to the assignments at hand.
This fall, the Global Field Experience program also requires all student team members to attend a series of five workshops taught by Darden Professor of Practice Tim Laseter.
“I’m excited about the mix of projects for the Global Field Experience courses this fall and our pilot of a new pedagogical model,” said Laseter. “Students working on the GFE engagements will still work directly with the clients and leverage subject matter expertise from various Darden faculty, and they will also work against a common timeline, with my guidance, around the consulting process. Over the course of five program day workshops, the students will discuss key concepts and techniques such as scoping the engagement, conducting interviews and developing hypotheses.”
The Global Field Experience projects function as a living and learning extension of the case study method, in which Darden students spend class time discussing cases about real business challenges and possible solutions. They allow students to practice theories learned with higher stakes and to recommend and defend a course of action to those closest to the challenge.
Second Year MBA student Gen Izutsu sees global experience as an integral part of his business education.
“In my summer internship, which did not look like a global role at first, I worked across a global organization and worked with teams across three countries. This experience emphasized to me the need to become a truly global business leader,” said Izutsu. “The GFEs’ opportunity to drive high-impact business results while managing a relationship with a foreign firm is the best way to put what we have learned in every class from ‘Leading Organizations’ to ‘Operations Management’ into practice.”
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia