When I started my Henley Executive MBA (EMBA) in 2016, it wasn’t clear to me what the International Study Visit module was all about. Then about 5 to 6 weeks before we left for Santiago in July 2018, we received the client’s brief, and the journey to form our team became very intense. I didn’t know any of the others, since they were from the Henley EMBA programmes in South Africa, Malta and the UK. I was the team’s eighth member, representing Finland.
Our multicultural team, fondly called the Red Hot Chile Peppers, was given a very interesting challenge from the Chilean NGO, COANIQUEM, a non-profit organisation that focuses on the rehabilitation of children with burns, educating the community on prevention and training medical staff. Although COANIQUEM has operated for 40 years, fundraising through charity shops is a fairly new strategy to drive income streams to support their rehabilitation hospital. Our task was to build a better pricing model for the shops – a very concrete project, but one that was highly touching and emotional for all of us.
Our client was highly engaged, spending many hours with us digging into the challenges and solutions until late in the evenings. We worked very hard on our solution and presentation, every person doing his job as if we were a hired consultancy. And we succeeded very well.
As to the highlights of my week, we first had a very interesting case to solve with concrete value for the children. The engagement from the client was exceptional, which in turn motivated the team to deliver more than expected.
Second, it was fascinating to observe how teams form, the patterns they go through when forming and how they can deliver something of value in such a short time. It was like a human laboratory from a leadership point of view to observe big egos from all over the world come together, reacting to one another and to various situations. But by focusing on COANIQUEM’s cause and the bigger purpose, we were able to overlook ideas that we may not like or agree with and reach a successful outcome.
And third, I really appreciate gaining a better understanding of the Chilean culture and learning what is going on there from a cultural and business perspective.
I am still asking myself, what would make anyone travel 20 hours for an intense week of working almost 20 hours a day in a new culture with numerous real-life challenges that need the best possible solutions – and pay for it?
Call us crazy, but everyone from our team would say we’d be willing to pay more for such a rewarding experience! Something really special happened – with the teamwork, the relationships and also the client, whom we all plan to stay connected with in the future. This special week forced us to experience and really understand what you can achieve when you unite with a professional multicultural team to deliver value.