Q_status_quoBy Kyle Rudzinski, MBA 2014

“Question the status quo” resonates beyond the Berkeley-Haas website and promotional brochures.  Embedded in stone on campus, the principle defines our culture.

For three weeks every spring, 100 Haas MBAs travel to dozens of nations to consult large multinationals, small businesses, and nonprofits on solving global business challenges. Through this experiential learning course, International Business Development (IBD), students develop the critical cross-cultural understanding, skills, and experience required to succeed on a flatter planet.

When demand for the IBD course far exceeded capacity last spring, students faced a choice: accept missing out on a unique global educational opportunity, or question the status quo and ask, “What can we do to broaden the impact on global business that Berkeley-Haas MBAs can make while extending an educational opportunity for our classmates?”

Together, students collaborated with Kristi Raube (Executive Director of Haas’ soon-to-be-announced Institute for Business and Social Impact), the Academic Affairs staff, and Dean Rich Lyons to explore approaches to enable more MBAs to strengthen their global business toolkits. The result: this winter, 14 MBAs will travel to Ghana to pilot a new Global Consulting course.  “Global Consulting” will involve taking on many of the principles of IBD, but applying them in new, larger team formats with clients in one nation rather than dispersed all over the globe, thus enabling additional cross-project and cross-functional collaboration.

The initial clients – Ashesi University College and Axis Human Capital – bring tough challenges to the table.  A premier institution of higher education in Africa, Ashesi continues to grow and foster stronger ties with its hometown, Berekuso.  Working with Ashesi President and Founder, Patrick Awuah (MBA ’99), a Berkeley-Haas team will develop a strategy for the university’s role in Berekuso’s economic development.

The second team will work with Kojo Adjei-Barwauh (MBA ’12), a former partner with Axis, on the development of a brand and marketing growth strategy for the socially-conscious human capital firm which serves Ghana’s rapidly growing demand for well-educated, talented executives.  Each project possesses rigorous challenges, requiring students to frame and solve problems on diverse teams and navigate uncertainty in both new cultures and new industries.

The Berkeley-Haas MBAs are prepared to meet the challenges they will face in Ghana.  After all, they knowingly invited them by coming to the table with solutions and creating a distinctive new course which holds the potential to positively impact two promising Ghanaian organizations.

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