Global Virtual Team Project

It’s No Fantasy: Executive MBA Students Drafted for Global Virtual Team Project

Monday, December 10, 2018

Before joining the Carlson School’s Executive MBA program, LJ Stock felt comfortable about his understanding of global business and how people from different countries worked together. As a senior manager at Enbridge Energy, Stock had a working relationship with a Canadian company, which helped him understand the slight differences between the U.S. and Canada.

But learning through the Carlson School’s Global Virtual Team Project—where he was working with students all around the world, virtually—opened Stock’s eyes to the cultural differences in businesspeople around the world.

“I thought these would all be simple, slight changes, like U.S. to Canada changes,” he says. “But it is nowhere near as extreme as the changes across the world. It was great to expand my horizons and see where the cultural differences really make a difference.”

Becoming Virtual Team Players

The Global Virtual Team Project allows Carlson School Executive MBA students to work with their counterparts from all three of the Carlson School’s Executive MBA programs across the globe—Minneapolis, Minn.; Vienna, Austria; and Guangzhou, China—virtually for six months on a business project. The teams consists of at least one student from each school, and at least 20 different countries are represented. These allow members of all the teams to experience different cultures, industries, and markets. Team members are from 20-30 different countries.

Together, they must find times to meet, discuss the business problems at hand, and overcome their cultural differences.

The work for each team begins in early November. The teams build a business plan for new market entry by using the knowledge and skills its members accumulated in their respective business careers and the new knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom. Through this teamwork and cross-cultural collaboration, they present their first paper together in March.

“This project puts the Carlson School in a very special spot in terms of what it can offer its students from the perspective of building their global experience,” says Svjetlana Madzar, senior lecturer, who teaches the Carlson Executive MBA international business course that coincides with the GVTP.

“It really exposes our students to the challenges of working across borders, across cultures, and virtually for an extended period of time. This helps them build these connections that they definitely will need, not just on that team, but on many global teams they will work on after they're done here.”

The Global Virtual Team Project Teaches International Collaboration

The Global Virtual Team Project provides Carlson School Executive MBA students with the unique opportunity to work in a collaborative team environment across cultures, industries, and markets.

Celebrating Accomplishments Together, IRL

When both the semester and project end in May, students from three different continents come together to meet each other face-to-face for the first time in Minneapolis. This culminates in all the groups presenting their final project to a panel of judges.

After the project, everyone walks together during their commencement ceremonies.

“At the beginning when they came up with this project, I really did not understand what was the purpose,” says Danijela Sevo, former Head of Customer Services for the Carnival Cruise Lines. “But now at the end, I really do understand because it is very important to be able to work with different people, coming from different countries and from different cultures. It’s very easy to work with someone who is from your country who has the same culture, but it is challenging to fit together as a team and to be able to understand and to work well with people that are coming from all over the world.”

Throughout the project, the students are challenged to cut down barriers and develop a global perspective that they can use for the remainder of their career.

“I've learned that there is an opportunity to really think globally,” Stock says. “And it's really about not just thinking the American way of doing things, or the Canadian way of doing things, but how all these teams can work together and use the diversity of all their skill sets together.”

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