As a potential MBA student, it’s likely that ‘immersive study’ or ‘applied learning’ are key motivations for choosing a course. With more business schools offering interactive learning, MBA News spoke to three QUT MBA students who recently returned from study tours to get a better insight into their value.
An Overview of QUT’s Study Tours
Depending on which of QUT’s MBA suite you study, you have the option to participate in either the MIT Immersion Program or the Complex Program Leadership (CPL) Study Tour.
Harry Kacak, Strategy Manager at Monitor Deloitte, and fellow MBA student Ashley Cacciola, Business Development Manager at Boeing Defence Australia, joined a cohort of over 50 MBA students on this year’s MIT Immersion Program. The students spent two weeks immersing themselves in the prestigious ecosystems of MIT Sloan School of Management in the United States.
With a focus on leadership, entrepreneurship and digital transformation, these students had the opportunity to gain new insights, building on the knowledge they had already acquired with QUT, and put innovation and problem-solving into practice with some of the world’s best business minds.
Executive MBA students like Tania Nicolson, Business Development Manager at Magellan Logistics, can participate in the Complex Project Leadership Study Tour in a different corner of the world.
Tania was part of a select group of Executive MBA students that spent two weeks with four leading businesses in London, Scotland, Germany and Switzerland. Despite operating in different industries & cultural contexts, each company was dealing with complex leadership problems including people management, supply chain management, and rapid growth and scaling.
The businesses visited included Reaction Engines, BAE Maritime Naval, Rheinmetall and Gotthard Base Tunnel. Students were given unique access to these businesses and their challenges, which ranged from digitisation and cultural transformation to innovative supply chain management and managing competing stakeholder demands.
The Lasting Value of an MBA Study Tour
All three MBA students agreed that a study tour takes learning to another level by providing first-hand exposure to business environments where innovation and problem-solving are rife.
For Tania who came from a small business background, the benefit of the CPL Study Tour was the exposure to structures, processes, and regiments that big businesses have, which she had not encountered previously.
“It was really good to be able to sit down with four companies of different scales (from a start-up to a big corporation that had been running for almost a hundred years), to see how they operate and tackle complex problems,” she said.
For Tania, the most eye-opening moment on the tour was when she came to the realisation that irrespective of which business she visited, they all have problems similar to her own workplace (with people or communication, for example) – just on a different scale.
Tania valued seeing these companies come to different realisations about the problems they were facing, giving her valuable insights on how she could apply those learnings to finding solutions for her own workplace in Australia.
Ashley agreed, saying that getting exposure from different perspectives is crucial now that the world has become so complex in all aspects of business and life.
“We can no longer rely on the traditional ways of doing business and increasingly need to apply creativity to solve the complex problems faced by society.
“Programs like the MIT Immersion [Program] provide students with the skills to be entrepreneurial and innovative – which are essential skills for anyone looking to solve complex problems and succeed in business contexts,” she said.
For Harry, the value of the MIT Immersion Program is obvious, “It’s MIT,” he said. Beyond the fact that most people would love to go to a top school like that, Harry also said that the enticement of this tour was the underlying benefit of networking with the people connected to MIT and the faculty there.
Speaking about the feeling you get from being on-site in Kendall Square, which is also known as ‘the most innovative square mile on the planet,’ Harry said, “you can feel that everyone wants to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Everyone’s there because they want to achieve something with their life. It’s inspiring!”
He likened MIT’s motto, mens et manus (translates from Latin to mind and hand) to QUT’s mindset, saying that it was clear that QUT not only provides you with knowledge but also teaches practical skills and solutions.
The Lasting Impact of Study Tours
“One of my biggest takeaways (from the tour) was to surround myself with people who have that drive to succeed – people who inspire me,” said Harry.
“Whether it’s in the spaces where I decide to work in or the people who I keep in my network – I want to be inspired by the people around me,” continued Harry.
Since returning from MIT, Harry has already taken steps to fulfil this commitment by becoming more involved in QUT’s own hub for entrepreneurship, the QUT Foundry.
For Ashley, the lasting value of her experience was centred on the confidence it gave her about her own skills, commercial acumen and ability to be an entrepreneur.
“Before completing the program, I had a preconceived notion of entrepreneurship that was quite traditional, and I didn’t really understand how it could apply to my current role or career path. Completing the tour helped me to realise that everyone can be an entrepreneur – even within their own organisations,” she said.
According to Tania, a study tour allows you to put everything you have learnt in the past two years into practice, while analysing companies and their problems.
“In the background, you’re thinking of all the systems and tools taught during your studies. Combining that learning with different cultural contexts you’re exposed to (on tour) provides different ways to solve common, complex business problems,” said Tania.
Applications are currently open for QUT’s MBA, Executive MBA and Digital MBA programs. Find out more about the MBA suite and apply here.