By Tasneem Harnekar (EMBA-Global, 2023)
Tasneem Harnekar has been part of the EMBA Global 2023 intake and was named a top student in her class. She had an insightful experience and wished to share her thoughts on the Global Experience/ International Seminar, a mandatory elective which takes place during the 2nd year of EMBA Global.
- Could you please tell us a little bit about your background, what did you do pre-programmme as well as post-graduation.
Although I was born in Australia, my formative years, as well as the majority of my career, were spent in Cape Town, South Africa. It was only about four and a half years ago that I made the move to London. As a qualified actuary, I gained extensive experience throughout my career prior to and during the programme across diverse functions like investments, finance, strategy, innovation, technology implementation, and product development, primarily within the insurance sector all at various levels of responsibility and leadership.
Post-graduating from the Executive MBA I’ve continued working within the insurance industry, recently taking on the role of Head of Propositions at AIG Life UK overseeing critical initiatives and contributing to the company’s strategic direction.
- What is the Global Experience, what location did you choose and why, and who was part of your group?
The Global Experience (run by LBS) or International Seminar (run by CBS) involves a focused and immersive experience in a foreign country or region. It is designed to provide EMBA candidates with a first-hand understanding of global business practices, cultures, and markets. Generally, the experience is formed around a specific topic which is relevant to the location of the global experience. Students can choose to take one of these courses at either school or pay to take part in more than one.
Most students will have an idea of which countries they would like to visit prior to joining the programme. Once the timing and the topic are provided it’s a combination of this in conjunction with which members of your cohort are attending specific locations which tends to influence your choice on which country to go to. Based on these factors I chose to go to Buenos Aires, Argentina with CBS.
- How was the week structured?
The week was structured as a combination of morning classes and afternoon interactions with companies within Argentina.
During morning classes we would discuss content from readings, economic concepts, and specific case studies curated to provide information on how and why certain businesses have thrived in Latin America and others have not.
Afternoon visits to corporations were set to align with the concept discussed earlier in the day in order to enhance learning. This would give students a chance to understand directly from businesses how they have navigated the landscape and business practicalities that come into play when making strategic decisions.
- What kind of events did you attend and what companies did you interact with?
During the week we had the chance to go on a sightseeing tour around the city and understand from locals more about the country and its citizens. Additionally, a formal group dinner was organised for the entire class.
Companies we interacted with included Mercado Libre, JP Morgan, Banco Provincia, and Tenaris. These visits were all in-person at the companies’ offices with the trip to Tenaris including a tour of manufacturing the overall site layout as well.
Informally a number of students organised their own events and dinners to attend. This included a trip to see a tango dance show, a 12-course meal at a fantastic restaurant called Chila, a trip to the San Telmo market and many other experiences.
- Do you remember any key speakers that you met during the Global Experience?
- Juan Cuattromo – President
- Adolfo Adorno – Chief of Staff
- Mariano Beltrani – Manager of Economic Studies
- Javier Martinez Alvarez – President
- What were the main takeaways from this 1-week project?
The impact of a country’s historical decisions and evolving culture can have a significant impact on their ability to grow in future. What might work in other countries may not work within a local economy due to this historical context and certain decisions may have unintended consequences if you do not weigh the long-term over the short-term. Interactions on a global level and the growth of other countries may directly influence countries and if you’re operating from a deficit, unless you have significant reforms planned, the continuous slower level of development may compound over time.
As global leaders, it is important to ensure you have an understanding of the history as well as the current when forming these reforms. Understanding why something might not work is just as important as understanding the concept and why it may have worked elsewhere in a different context. The ability to understand the internal and external environments and interactions will directly influence your ability to achieve and catalyse change.
- What advice would you have for the upcoming EMBA Global candidates?
The global experience presents a great opportunity to get to know cultures and global business practices aside from your own and should not be missed. Understanding these dichotomies is incredibly important as potential global leaders and experiencing this while in a country tends to really bring this to life. The experience is structured in a way that forces both theoretical learning alongside experiential and it is important to grasp both sides and grapple with them to enhance the experience and your overall learning. The more you engage, the more you will gain from this experience – engage in class, with the businesses and their leaders, and most of all get to know the locals who provide a personal viewpoint unmatched by only looking at it through a looking glass.
For more information about the international seminar on the EMBA-Global programme, click here.