It was in mid-October that many students from the class set sail for the four corners of the world, or at least Europe and North America, for Global Network Immersion Week (GNIW). This is a week where MBA students from all over the world, which are part of the Global Network of Advanced Management (GNAM – as was so artfully recreated at the wine-tasting in the photo above), exchange schools for a week. The goal is to allow the students to immerse themselves in the culture of the host school, and to meet, network with and learn from students from different schools, countries and backgrounds. Each school hosted a different business topic for the week, where the students could discuss and debate relevant issues that are happening in the world at present.
While some of the class traveled to Yale, Vancouver and Istanbul, my adventures took me to Madrid and IE business school, along with four of my classmates. The topic covered for the week was ‘Europe at a Crossroads’, covering some of the major economic and political issues affecting Europe at present, such as the Eurozone Crisis, the rise of nationalism, and the competition coming from emerging economies. IE provided some of their finest lecturers to provide some insight on the various issues faced by Europe, with a particular emphasis on the recent struggles Spanish economy. In line with this we had a pair of company visits to a start-up accelerator and an innovation centre, which are part of the process of sowing the seeds of growth for the economy in the future.
As a treat they also provided us with a lesson on the Spanish wine industry, followed by a wine-tasting of some of the finest wines Spain has to offer, along with a Flamenco show. This turned out to be a highlight of the week, and everybody enjoyed the frivolities well into the evening, and in some cases, night.
However, it wasn’t all fun and games. We were divided into teams of five, and at the end of the week each team had to make a presentation on a different issue faced by Europe. I was joined on my team by people from China, Mexico, Colombia and Canada, and we had to present on ‘The Rise of Nationalism in Europe’. While Scotland and the Basque people’s calls for independence are widely known, it surprised me to discover just how many other parts of Europe are facing the same issues at present.
Overall, I would say that the week spent in Madrid was an incredible experience, a view shared by my colleagues that accompanied me on the trip. While we didn’t quite manage to solve all of the crises facing Europe, we did take away some valuable learnings that we can draw upon in our academic endeavours. Even more so, we made some connections throughout the week that we can call upon in future, in both a professional and personal capacity.
Patrick Farrell ~ Full-Time MBA