At Haas, I’m taking an experiential learning course called International Business Development (IBD). In a nutshell, the purpose of the course is to send students to a foreign country to manage and implement a consulting assignment for a client.
I enrolled in the course because I wanted to beef up my problem solving skills. Unlike many of my classmates, I did not have the pleasure of working for a big consulting firm like BCG, Bain, or McKinsey prior to my acceptance to Haas. I feel the IBD experience will help me beef up my problem solving skills to better transition to a product marketing or product management role in the technology sector.
Also, it’s pretty nice to be able to travel to a foreign country for three weeks in May and have your client pay for your travel and lodging, am I right?
Tonight, I attended the first IBD session for 2012. To give context about the class, there are 32 different teams working with clients. However, nobody was given any information about their teammates, countries, or clients until tonight.
Everybody was understandably nervous. Before leaving for the winter break, the program director had sent all students a survey asking about our risk tolerance. After all, past IBD teams have encountered anarchy, riots, and natural disasters. Two hours of suspense and team-building exercises passed before the program directors finally revealed our team assignments.
Some of my classmates were assigned to South Africa, Bulgaria, Peru, and even Senegal. Projects ranged from healthcare to technology to finance to even wildlife conservation. One team discovered they would be sent to Laos to help preserve crocodiles!
My assignment ended up being far less rural. I will be working on a very influential marketing project for a leading telecommunications firm in Seoul. Having worked with countless Korean digital media companies in my previous job at Google, I’m very much looking forward to working on the other side of the table.
Visiting Seoul will be exciting, especially in the summer. But I don’t think it won’t be all fun and games. After all, the client is actually paying Haas for our services and we’re expected to deliver real working recommendations. This is a legitimate consulting project with real revenue at stake.
Secondly, my team is expected to complete the bulk of the work before leaving the United States. Once we reach South Korea, our work will shift to implementation! For this reason, we are going to set up an intro call with the client tomorrow and then try to meet him in person later this week to discuss our deliverables.
Overall, I think the project is going to be great because the analysis I’ll be conducting and recommendations I’ll be delivering will be directly applicable to the post-MBA marketing and product management roles I seek.
As a country, South Korea might not be as exotic as Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania, or Mongolia. But I think it will still be an awesome experience. I’ll get to ride a fast rail in a clean city, experience super fast internet speeds, and eat delicious Korean food on a daily basis. Who wouldn’t like that?
Korean friends, you must tell me your favorite places in Seoul! I intend to visit every one on the weekend.