From March 27 to April 5, I visited Singapore and Malaysia for a Lancaster University Management School module called ‘International Business in Context’, which takes the form of a study tour designed to allow students to experience different cultures and business environments. The destinations this year were Turkey and Singapore/Malaysia. While many classmates were excited to experience the cultures of Southeast Asia, my first visit to Malaysia in four years left me with some apprehensions and a chance for self-reflection.
As an international trading manager of a small Japanese trading company, I had international experience with business partners from more than 15 countries. Asia was our main market, and we had built established business relationships with dealers in key countries. The dealer in Singapore was our oldest business partner. On the other hand, in Malaysia, we didn’t have any dealers, so we set out to find one. Sadly, after some twists and turns we lost a good opportunity for new business there. Both countries then, for different reasons, held memories for me.
International experience with classmates and colleagues
For me, this study tour was a chance for self-reflection and to ask an important question. Has doing an MBA changed my thinking? Have my views changed and my business and cultural mindfulness improved?
Our study tour was full of insightful and informative international experiences. Almost every day, we had a teaching session in finance, macroeconomics or marketing for example, delivered by local faculty members in the morning. The afternoons were then spent visiting global companies like Intel and Rolls Royce in Singapore, and IBM in Malaysia, local businesses like Sunway Lagoon Resort and Malaysia’s central bank – Bank Negara. At night, social events were held with alumni, current Lancaster University Management School MBA students in Singapore and the dual-award MBA program students of Sunway University in Malaysia.
We had abundant opportunities to hear many different voices and perspectives during our study tour, experience the local culture, and – of course – taste various local dishes. We were also required to engage in ‘mindful self-reflection’ regarding these international experiences; reflecting on our experiences through different perspectives was an intellectually demanding task, though one which encouraged me to look back on myself in positive ways. When I left Malaysia, I was convinced that I had changed.
Self-reflection at the Half-way point
So far, how have I changed with what I’ve gained during my MBA?
One important thing I’ve gained is the benefit of different perspectives from international experiences. Another is a sense of balance between things. Before my Lancaster University Management School MBA, I used to believe in right or wrong. But now, I have become able to accept a mixture of them; dualism, the idea of Yin and Yang (陰陽 in Chinese). I might not be able to enjoy the same level of self-reflection this study tour gave me without another visit to these two countries, or from a similar trip elsewhere.
In the latter half of MBA life at Lancaster University Management School, what and how will I change? Soon, we will enter the stage of our elective modules and summer project. Those represent the final phase of the Lancaster MBA where we ought to show our improvement and put into practice what we have learned during our MBA.
This final stage promises to be the most practical, demanding, and fulfilling of all.
About Yuki Takahashi
Originally from Japan, Yuki is an MBA student at Lancaster University Management School in the UK, from which she will graduate in 2014. After seven years in sales at the Nikko International Corporation she served as the managing director of Global Co-Star LLC. She studied drama and theatrical arts at Meiji University in Tokyo, focusing on traditional Japanese forms such as Noh and Kabuki and has spent time volunteering for the Shinagawa Boys and Girls Choir.