September 8, 2015

Global MBA: As rigorous as it was, I would do it all over again without hesitation

J. Michael Tasse is a current student in the Global MBA program at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. To read more about his experience, view his blog.

Originally, Sarah Wells from the Weatherhead School of Management commissioned me to write a piece conveying the feeling of the general experience I had returning to Weatherhead in June of 2015. After all, my batch of the 2015 Global MBA had been in Asia for one year at XLRI’s School of Management—studying and working with the Tata Conglomerate in India—and at Tongji University in China, immersed in the fascinating world of business, networking and overall entrepreneurship of Shanghai. Naturally, returning to the States can feel a bit strange, and seeing my jiaxiang, or “hometown” from a different perspective warrants reflection.

I tried to piece together memories of the foreign feeling I felt after being abroad so long. I conjured memories of cars driving on the right side of the road rather than the left; of few open air markets; of set prices in stores not requiring bargaining. I thought of the blandness of un-spiced, curry-less dishes. I thought of the lack of public transit in America… but none of that seemed to really flow from my mind, nor did it serve to express my honest experience.

What did strike me powerfully was today: my first day of courses without my XLRI and Tongji
classmates. They had been my colleagues and business partners throughout the last year. I felt at a loss without my GMBA friends. In our final semester, each cohort returns to their respective university to complete their Global Master of Business Administration.

Walking the halls at the Frank Gehry-designed Peter B. Lewis Weatherhead building today was a foreign feeling, even after spending an entire summer semester there almost seven days a week. The chairs were filled with students I had not yet met; the halls flowing with energetic bodies I had never seen. While they also hail from all over the world (as Weatherhead does a fantastic job at immersing its classrooms in incredible talent from all over the world), I found myself looking for Soumy Singh, my best bud and Bollywood-connoisseur from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India—the oldest city in the world. Or Akshay Chaudhary, a great artist from Jamshedpur, Jhakrhand, whose inventor capabilities have only just begun to blossom. I hear a voice speak Mandarin, Chinese and consider Yi Wen, the woman who shyly guided Sammy Bandy and me through Nanjing, China. I miss Pranai Devulapalli, my first friend in the program with whom I read Sun Zi’s Art of War before arriving in China. I miss Rishabh Jain, co-founder of the Global MBA consulting club who would push me to always keep my cool and to become a better “resonant leader.” I missed the people in whom I had invested and who had invested in me so profoundly for the past year.

Today, I felt it.

I looked around for the faces from the Global MBA program I knew well but with whom I had not spent as much time. I wondered if I would ever get the chance to talk about Vietnam and the oil business with Adhithya Gugan Ravi, who lived in Vietnam with his family for a time. I missed Vishakha Maliwal, from whom the great fountain of financial knowledge flowed; all one had to do was politely ask her. I missed Vivienne Zhang, likely the smartest mathematical mind and sweetest, most compassionate woman in our class. Vivienne was the first to devote as much time as needed to any of us who had failed to understand a statistical or financial concept.

I realized today, walking the halls of PBL, that those friends (and likely future business partners) I had made throughout the previous year of the Global MBA really meant something to me. It was more profound than just a graduate program—I had learned to ebb and flow with those from India and China; I had learned to feel as they felt and see the world evolve through their eyes. In that, we had created our own language of understanding.

After my first class today with Dr. Rakesh Niraj—Marketing Metrics—I walked around the
classroom and said hello to my classmates. While I did not yet know them as I had my previous Global MBA cohort, I found myself more seamlessly interacting with them than perhaps I would have a year ago. My language skills instantly connected me with several folks from Delhi, India, and from Anhui province in China. All I needed to say was “Namaskar, Supra bhat! Mere naam Michael hai!” or “Zaoshanghao!, Wo de mingzi jiao Michael!” meaning “Good morning! My name is Michael!” in Hindi and Mandarin, respectively. I looked around the classroom with a different eye; I used my Global MBA experience to better open conversation with my new classmates, also from all over the world. I even met a guy, João, from Recife, Brazil, and a woman from Potsdam, Germany—speakers of languages I had learned and practiced while abroad in the Global MBA.

I knew that it was the Global MBA program that prepared me for this day. It was the way that the
Global MBA shapes and molds us into truly resonant leaders who grow, listen and learn to engage others in a more profound way than I ever could have imagined. I look back and wish I could struggle through one more project at 11 p.m. in Jamshedpur or Shanghai, complaining about how unrealistic the challenge of a certain due date we would eventually overcome was.

While today was our first class on our own here at Weatherhead, I check my WeChat messages (WeChat is an App from a company called TenCent reminiscent of WhatsApp). I see posts from wo de pengyou, from mere dosts – “from my friends,” and I think to myself:

“I now have a network throughout the entire world—I have extremely talented friends in the most powerful, growing economies and countries on Earth. This is the beginning of the power of Weatherhead’s Global MBA."

No comments:

Post a Comment