Global Focus Participants, Then and Now

Ellen McMahon, EdD

Thursday, October 16, 2014

From both an academic and professional perspective, being exposed to businesses on a global level is an incredible opportunity. It’s one we offer at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management through our Global Focus program. Our hope for the program is to have students’ education be enriched through knowledge that can be applied to current or future organizations as well as their own endeavors. Having a global context for economics, culture, resource production and delivery of goods and/or services are extremely valuable in leadership roles.

As we prepare for our upcoming trip to Bogota, Colombia, we wanted to share some experiences from our trip to Poland earlier this year. I had the pleasure of leading this group and, let me start off by saying, this trip was an incredible experience that challenged many of the group’s assumptions about the standard of living in Poland. Our eyes were opened to the level of discretionary income, the educated workforce and the vast opportunities for U.S. companies. Many students said Poland was not a country they wanted to visit – now, they want to bring their families back there.

polish zoltyWe started our trip to Krakow by receiving an overview of the region, with a special emphasis on the growth opportunities. We also visited with a local university to learn more about the history of the European Union. With a little background on the area and its history, we had a baseline for understanding its culture and business climate. Learning about the importance of the European Union without being in the “Euro”-zone was very interesting. The country’s currency remains the Polish Zloty. Exploring the ramifications of changing the currency triggered interesting conversations and valuable insights were shared.

We traveled by train from Krakow to Warsaw, to take in the beautiful countryside. While there, we visited government offices and the Polish American Freedom Foundation, the organization credited with helping to build civil society after the fall of communism. This group helped students see the challenges of building civil society after 1989. As part of our cultural immersion, we had a tour of notable historical sites and attended the Polish Symphony. Work hard, play hard is the overall tone we like to achieve with participants.

We tailored our visits to local businesses based on the needs of the group. This allowed participants the opportunity to gather takeaways for consulting projects on behalf of U.S. companies in industries such as real estate, financial services and mortuary services. Visiting government agencies, professional organizations and practitioners allowed students to really explore the ins and outs of their projects before making a recommendation to companies upon their return.

As someone who has spent much time in Poland, working with students and local businesses, this was one of the most memorable trips, as are all the Global Focus trips. To see photos of our group in Poland, visit our Facebook page.

Learn more about our upcoming trip to Colombia, as well as future destinations, on our website.

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