The McGill HEC Montreal EMBA Worldly Mindset, held last May in Argentina, is focused on managing context. When you are in a new environment, how do you find out about how things work? How do you adjust? During the eight days of the module, we addressed topics such as globalization, management of international growth, cultural dimensions and international regulations. That was one level. But at least as important was the process angle: how to learn about a new environment. Where to look for information. How to corroborate findings. What sources and connections to use.
And just as importantly, the context in which the module took place: Argentina. That gave rise to a second theme for the week: how to manage in an uncertain environment. Exchanging ideas and opinions with top managers of top companies gave the EMBA participants great insights into managing under uncertainty. Focus is key, and risk is not to be feared, it’s seen as an opportunity. The class reflections on the last morning captured some of their key learnings for the week:
– The things they saw on the ground in Argentina they could never have read about on the internet, or gotten through telephone calls – to really understand the context of a place, you need to be there to experience it for yourself;
– It is important to seek multiple points of view;
– It is important to keep an open mind and not to simply look for facts that support the conclusions you have already drawn;
– We see things from our perspective; being worldly means being able to at least understand or appreciate other perspectives; it doesn’t mean you have to give up your own perspective, but you have to realize there is more than one way of looking at things;
– You can learn from every interaction and every observation, as long as you are open to it.
– Looking at another country can help you see your own country more objectively
– The project they did throughout the week help make their learnings more concrete as they were applying their learnings to something specific;
The week was packed with a variety of activities, to ensure a wide range of perspectives and experiences. The class, in small groups, met with leading Argentine companies such as Ternium, Globant and Peñaflor, on the same day they met with a series of Argentine entrepreneurs. They discussed the business landscape with Canadian Trade Commissioners as well as with Canadian companies doing business in Argentina, such as Goldcorp, BlackBerry and Agrium. They investigated politics and the Argentine identity with important academics, and they visited a “Comedor” (soup kitchen) that takes care of 150 poor children with funding from the profits of a local recycling cooperative. And they tested their own abilities to network as they organized their own meetings in support of their team projects. They had an informal dinner with locals of all types: executives, retirees, students. And they tested their cross-cultural negotiation skills in a workshop with Argentine EMBAs and a Colombian facilitator. Over the course of the week, the class met with close to 150 different people, always with the opportunity to ask questions, observe, and learn. The Impact Papers everyone wrote to round out the module showed what learnings from the week they will employ in their organizations, and how they will do so. There’s no doubt that this experience will shape how they approach new contexts and new environments in the future.
To learn more on the participant’s experience of the Worldly Mindset, read Ginette Mailhot’s article: Are we “Worldly”?