A Journey to Learn : EDHEC Global MBAs gain a world view from South Africa Business Trip

Written on 14 December 2011.

« The goal is to give insight into emerging economies and help participants gain a truly global understanding of how the business competencies they learn are being applied in markets which are very different from their own,» according to Sandra Richez, Head of Career Services who accompanied the MBAs on this incredible journey to learn.

Jashil Kim, who participated in the trip to South Africa says, « Growing up in the Philippines, I found alot of similarities in South Africa in terms of culture, society and economics on these two different continents, but the trip was a real eye-opener for me. »  EDHEC's MBA is consistently ranked by the Economist as one of the most diverse and international MBAs on the planet. Despite the melting pot which is their classroom, their trip from northern to southern hemispheres was a true paradigm shift.

« I truly appreciated the sense of community you feel in South Africa - sharing common concerns and care for others.  A corporate social responsibility theme underscored our whole program in Capetown. For example, Backsberg Estate's workforce of 95% of women was both surprising and evocative of the owner's determination to uncover South Africa's economic and social potential.  Some of the firms we visited felt a responsibility to employ as many people as possible even if it meant giving up efficiency to support the community in the long-run. This woke me up to an entirely different reality.»

The academic program was built in partnership with Stellenbosch University, South Africa's leading MBA. Corporate speakers shared insights from a broad range of sectors including Eskom Energy,  Impumelelo's HIV/AIDS healthcare and solar energy initiatives, special education schools and skills training centres for the townships. Participants also focused on the huge mobile and ICT market in South Africa with analysis from Frost & Sullivan Consultants and Rothesay CEO Richard Lord. Agricultural firms Backsberg Estate winery and Two-a-Day (Tru-Cape) Africa's largest apple exporter brought further insight into sustainability.

 « I was struck by the levels of inequality with slums standing alongside luxury shopping malls, underlining the broad wealth gap between rich and poor. » In class, this wealth gap and the business models to deal with it were discussed in detail as participants focused on South Africa's budding middle class of Black Diamond consumers. Classes taught on the Capetown campus included South African Leadership and Change, Telecommunications, ICT Innovation, Market Segmentation and Branding, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Returning to EDHEC's campus in Nice, France, MBAs carry with them valuable lessons in doing well by doing good.

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