University of Edinburgh Business School MBA candidates presenting to clients in Colombia

International trek to Colombia with the Edinburgh MBA

One of the optional electives I chose as part of my specialisation was International Business in Context (IBC Colombia). In this course, students have the opportunity to travel to Bogota and Medellin in Colombia to work on a mini-consultancy project with a large local company.

“The world is a book and those that do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine

The Edinburgh MBA has been a rising star, currently ranked 73 in the prestigious 2018 Financial Times’ Top 100 MBA programmes (2017: 91, 2016: 98). With a triple accreditation by the AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA, it is also one of the few full-time MBA programmes where students can specialise in strategy, entrepreneurship or finance. Since my previous experience at Deloitte had provided exposure to client services, I was drawn to consultancy and therefore chose the strategy route. This gave me the opportunity to work with highly-regarded companies such as Fujitsu and RBS, and hone my skills as a consultant.

One of the optional electives I chose as part of my specialisation was International Business in Context (IBC Colombia). In this course, students have the opportunity to travel to Bogota and Medellin in Colombia to work on a mini-consultancy project with a large local company. Many brilliant training workshops, multiple tours and meetings with influential Colombian businesses had also been planned. The course’ aim was to allow students to consult with a local business and recommend ways for the company to overcome their issues.

MBA candidates after presenting to industry clients in Colombia

Culture shock

The visit to Colombia was my first trip across the Atlantic Ocean. With recent popular TV shows romanticising Colombia’s unfortunate past, many of my friends and family advised caution. However, coming from a Pakistani background, and having been born and raised in Dubai’s multicultural environment, I understand negative stereotypes have no place in the 21st century.

This trip, in addition to my professional learning and development, was also about my growth as a person. It was about moving out of my comfort zone, and even learning Spanish!

The power of social media

Before my visit, as part of my MBA blogging experience, I was approached by the marketing team to take over the @uoebusiness Instagram page and broadcast my experience in Colombia. Not only did this give me the chance to show the pages’ many followers what the MBA cohort was doing in Bogota and Medellin; it also made it possible to raise awareness Colombia’s rich history and their future plans.

The feedback I got was terrific. Colombian students told me how happy they were with the coverage, my friends and followers informed me of plans for similar trips. And I got the chance to hone my social media skills. Social media is an essential tool in today’s connected world. If used appropriately, it can be used to benefit society, break stereotypes and bring the world closer.

What’s next?

Colombia is one of the most important and strategically located cities in Latin America. An area that has seen many ups and downs, it has now become more stable and is a must visit on every travellers’ bucket list. With many developments in security, governmental reforms in the business environment and increased foreign direct investment, things are changing for the better.

While the courses on the MBA have been intense, the experiences and skills I have developed have been rewarding, This has made my MBA truly meaningful. It is also treks like this, and others I that am planning on participating in before the conclusion of my course, that makes my MBA experience different and worthwhile.

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Saad Fayyaz

Saad Fayyaz is a former MBA student at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and the recipient of the MBA Diversity Award scholarship 2017/18. With professional experience working for Deloitte and Mashreq Bank in Dubai and London, Saad gained a wide range of cross-functional experience in project management, risk management, and specialised consultancy, before joining the MBA programme in 2017. Today, supported by his new MBA acquired skills, Saad finds himself looking to further his professional career in management and strategy consulting. From Karachi to Dubai, London, and now Edinburgh, Saad is always ready to take on new challenges, wherever they may be. As an avid traveler, he is on board to go and experience something new and exciting.