When Sauder International MBA (IMBA) student Lea Huang came from Shanghai to spend two weeks studying at Sauder on the Vancouver campus, she says what struck her most was the diversity of the school’s students.
Huang and her IMBA classmates were in town for the first of two extended stays to learn, gain exposure to the Canadian business environment and work with their full-time MBA peers. As a core part of the visit, they took part in a case competition with their fellow MBAs, which partnered Huang with students from Colombia, Vietnam, India and Canada on an applied business challenge.
The cross-cultural immersion was a great experience, she says, noting she appreciated hearing very different perspectives from across the globe.
“In Shanghai there are so many foreign companies, and every year there are more people coming from other countries to work,” Huang says. “So, I really appreciated the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how people from different cultures tackle challenges.”
The IMBAs and MBAs worked on a case for global commodities firm Methanex, and were judged by representatives from the company, including Mark Allard, VP of corporate development, who holds an MBA from Sauder. He says he’s a living example of the benefit students get from working with industry professionals, as he got his first introduction to Methanex through a Sauder financial analysis project.
“Methanex has been working with Sauder for many years now, and we really value the relationship we have with the school,” Allard told the crowd. “It’s a good way for us to hear different perspectives, and find some really good talent.”
The Vancouver stay is a key part of the 20-month IMBA program run by Sauder in partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School has run the program in Shanghai since 2002, flying in Sauder faculty from Vancouver. It’s the first North American English-language MBA program offered in Shanghai.
The case competition proved valuable to IMBA and MBA students alike. Juliana Osorio, a full-time MBA, worked with Huang on the competition’s winning team and said she appreciated hearing the perspectives of her IMBA counterparts as they applied their different skill sets to the case.
“They challenged us to look at things from a different perspective,” she says, adding that case competitions are an invaluable way to apply all of what she’s learned in class to one challenge.
“It brings everything together,” she says. “So far, I think it’s been one of the most important parts of the program.”