Any global business leader understands that international events drive opportunities and influence decisions. Agile business leaders pivot quickly when unanticipated events arise. Business goals remain constant. Strategy and tactics may have to change to meet the unexpected. These are lessons WashU Olin students learn day in and day out. Today, the team at Olin is putting those lessons into practice.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, my Olin colleagues have confronted the challenge admirably. We’re retooling our celebrated global immersion for the next class of full-time MBA students—while accounting for an unanticipated public health crisis.
The result: The MBA students in the class of 2022 will span five cities across three continents in their global immersion, beginning in St. Louis and continuing to Washington, DC; Barcelona; Paris; and Lima, Peru.
Our inaugural class covered St. Louis; Washington, DC; Barcelona; Beijing; and Shanghai, all the while taking classes, consulting with business professionals in-country and creating solutions for real-world business problems.
Given today’s headlines, and because the health and well-being of our students is paramount, we had to make decisions now. We had to pivot, while preserving the important global experience that has quickly become a cornerstone of the WashU MBA—so much so, in fact, that Poets & Quants named us the program of the year for our work.
From the start, we’ve pressed the opportunity for students to gain global business literacy in a variety of economies and markets. We’ve spoken about the agility today’s business leaders require when operating in cultures different from their own. And our students have bonded tightly in a unique and united global experience.
Class of ’22 students will take virtually the same courses their predecessors took, gaining similar outcomes. This time, however, students will experience even more diverse business perspectives.
As well as adding a major European capital and world business center to the itinerary—Paris—we are adding a stint in Lima, the capital city of Peru’s emerging economy, with opportunities to study sustainability concerns and startup opportunities. An economy with local production in textiles and ecotourism. A culture risen from a tumultuous history, where economic development is a priority.
For students who were deeply committed to the possibility of an experience in China, we haven’t left them behind either. When the current crisis subsides, we plan to offer an elective residency in Shanghai—along with other residencies in Tel Aviv and Berlin.
WashU Olin is a global business school. We’ve invested in the program and in our students in order to develop globally mobile business leaders who are nimble enough to confront challenge dynamically.
To be sure, we didn’t anticipate this challenge. But in confronting it, we’re creating a new and exciting version of our global immersion.