In an increasingly global economy, international experience for Indiana University MBA candidates comes from hands-on work in the field as much as the classroom. A group of students, led by Dr. Phil Powell, travel to Peru to help local entrepreneurs tackle business challenges using cutting edge business practices. The Kelley MBA GLOBASE initiative provides a unique social enterprise experience by partnering with Peruvian businesses to make a global impact.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reflections from Jogging in Lima

The last two mornings I joined Ana and Roberto on a 6AM run. The air is crisp and the streets are deserted as one of us says "Vamos!" and we start the pace together. The combination of U2 in my ear buds, unfamiliar (but enjoyable) sights and smells of Lima, and a run in tandem with my two IU colleagues is quite surreal and stimulating - it is one of many privileged pleasures of traveling for the Kelley School.

Soon, though, each member of our close trio hits their own sustainable pace and we leave each other's company. Yours truly falls behind Ana and Roberto, both of whom have run for many years and who know better how to manage the breathing, pacing, and balance (and have better shoes) required for the art of jogging.

I could not help but equate these dynamics to MBA graduation. Everyone leaves Bloomington with the same knowledge and hard skills. Analogously, I know how to put one foot in front of the other just like Roberto and Ana, and in fact, I can choose to run faster than they do when we start. But in the end, I fall behind.

From the same graduating class, why do some get ahead in satisfying their dreams and others fall behind? Just as good running depends a jogger's internal ability to breathe and pace her speed, moving forward in an organization (and moving the organization itself forward) has everything to do with a manager's quiet capacity to build the confidence and optimism of those around her. If she just depends on hard skills to move her career forward, then her jog that is her career suddenly becomes a walk as she fights the cramp that is unbalanced relationship with those in the workplace -- just like the cramp in my side that stopped me yesterday as I watched Roberto and Ana jog around the corner not to be seen again until the hotel.

At its foundation, GLOBASE is an experience designed to develop those soft skills needed for professional success. And what better place to do it than in Peru where small businesses are hungry for the hope teams of Kelley MBA students can give them.

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