What’s an MBA student from the internationally recognized Johns Hopkins University supposed to do to get international business experience?
Just kidding. Go to Italy as part of a team of entrepreneurs as passionate as you are to gain knowledge through an experiential leadership class. That’s exactly what I did and here are a few of the lessons learned:
- Prior to the class, we took an Emotional Intelligence test which helped us understand what our strengths are and where we can improve when working as a team. For example, I can work efficiently under a lot of stress and have an enthusiastic attitude even when faced with almost impossible situations.
- In the beginning of the trip we shared what motivated us to participate in the class and what our expectations were. Sharing expectations meant we understood what we wanted to accomplish and learned to rely on the team for support in achieving our goals.
- Along the way, we faced challenges: strategizing the trail on long-hike days with changing weather, conquering challenging trails when uncomfortable with heights, and kayaking when some of us had no experience. We learned that leadership can alternate, depending on your strengths and knowing you have to step outside your comfort zone to experience new things and improve.
- When taking a class in another country, let yourself be part of the local culture. Italy meant cultural immersion with pasta like I’ve never tasted before, grassroots local businesses that reminded me of core values I sometimes forget in a fast-paced business environment, art by classical masters, and walking on the cobblestones of ancient cities in Roman footsteps.
- As a part–time student, this class gave me a concentrated experience as an alternative to an internship that I couldn’t have taken with my full-time job. I gained international exposure and got a quick review of lessons learned in classes such as Strategic Human Capital, Operations Management, Discovery to Market, and City Lab.
Still curious about how this class really is? Here is a description of a typical day: wake up in idyllic Pruno at the base of Monte Forato; have breakfast at the local restaurant where Chef Vasco’s food is art that melts in your mouth; hike a challenging trail to the top of the mountain at 1230 m (4040 ft.); on the way down visit the local chestnut mill and chat with locals about the ancient history of the place. By sundown, make plans for the drive to Portofino where you will go kayaking by Dolce&Gabanna’s mansion and then move on to the ancient Etruscan City of Volterra.
In a nutshell, you experience: cultural immersion, the outdoors, leadership and life-long friendships.
Special thanks to Mike Doyle and Tamarillo Active Travel for making this experience happen!
What is the next leadership challenge? Fiji in January. You, too, could be part of an experiential learning adventure with Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Click here to learn more about the Adventure Leadership Expedition in Fiji!