By Rae Scott. Photo credit: on Unsplash

An international experience has long been part of the UVic MBA and is an opportunity for MBA students to apply and share specialized knowledge in an international setting. Despite the past year’s circumstances and the shift to virtual, UVic MBA students in both the Weekend and Daytime cohorts were able to work with a real client on a business issue with an international focus. This allowed them to both apply their cumulative business knowledge and walk away with an enhanced global mindset and skill set.

One of our students, Angela Hoskinson, said it was “interesting to hear about real-world issues directly from international businesspeople and have the chance to ask questions.” Brian Norwick, who also participated in the program, said, “IAP introduced us to entrepreneurs who openly discussed their real-world challenges.” It helped him “to understand the challenges and opportunities involved in including sustainable practices in a business.”

In 2021, three international experiences took place. Each took a virtual trip across the world – one of the three was to Japan to work with an HVAC company called TZOA and the another was to Costa Rica to work with a fair-trade beverage company called Pura Coco!

TZOA’s CEO, Kevin R. Hart, had this to say about the experience with our IAP students: “TZOA engaged the IAP for a comprehensive international go-to-market plan, involving research from multiple teams over several months. The program culminated in a presentation containing hard-won insights, strategies and tactics that heavily influenced our decision making.”

Pura Coco’s CEO, Burnett Treat, enjoyed working with our students immensely and said they “provided a fresh perspective… The research and analysis performed will prove extremely valuable as we re-evaluate our approach to a rapidly evolving business landscape.” IAP student Matt Lang had this to say about the experience working with Pura Coco, “Without fail, each speaker we met was willing to answer whatever question was asked of them with detail and candour.”

One of our students who participated in the Japan project, Akinwale Akinro, says, “the diversity and quality of experience of our IAP guest speakers was amazing.” The project included a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and sushi session – over Zoom! Akinwale says it was a beautiful touch and way to end the block.

With everything being virtual this year, navigating how to provide a diverse and engaging experience despite the circumstances was no easy task. Our students made the most of the opportunity and were able to turn today’s challenges into valuable learnings, drawing on their unique skills to do so. MBA student Ofelia Warren says, “It’s all a combination of hard work, coordination, collaboration and patience.”

“Having the opportunity to work with a real client considering international expansion was incredibly valuable, especially online,” says MBA student Midhat Malik. “By being able to understand how to conduct primary research to find valuable information to develop an international market expansion strategy before investing to go abroad is critically important.”

An international experience allowed students to experience firsthand all the market research and knowledge needed to succeed in international environments. The project explained the necessary processes of expanding a business internationally and all the work that goes into it. It’s no surprise that the international experience is often mentioned as being a highlight of the MBA program.