Lessons On Other Cultures

Sharon Cohen, a student of IMPM (International Masters in Practicing Management), on the lessons learnt during her time at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore

I had always wanted to further my business education, but the way I learn (through doing) doesn’t fit with the pedagogy of traditional Executive MBA programmes. I was searching for a course that would focus on personal fulfilment and not solely rely on classroom-based learning. I had been made aware of the IMPM and how it had been referred to as the ‘Anti-MBA,’ largely due to its programme director being the outspoken critic of many MBA programmes, Henry Mintzberg, and its offering of an education that uses a variety of teaching methods not typical of most business schools.

To date, I have completed three out of the five modules. Each module takes our group to a different country for 10 days at a time and the focus of the learning is geared towards selfreflection and personal development. The most recent one took me to India at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. The philosophy behind this is to create a sense of worldliness, in order to make students understand their own organisations better via being exposed to the inner workings of others.

We arrived in Bangalore in the middle of the night and got into a taxi to head to our hotel. The taxi ride was a great introduction to the country and quite telling of what we would see throughout our time in India. Though it was in the middle of the night, there was construction and work taking place all around, busy streets, people walking on the side of the highway, and businesses in full swing. It was a great portrayal of the rapid economic growth that India is clearly experiencing.

As is often the case with IMPM, the deepest learning seemed to always happen outside of the classroom. One of the most memorable and impactful experiences for me took place
three hours east of Bangalore where we visited Myrada a nonprofit organisation. Myrada’s goal is to eradicate poverty and hunger by helping the poor help themselves. They do this by building infrastructure, education, promoting gender equality and empowering women. It was from this experience and others of a similar nature that I gained my most applicable lessons.

Rarely a week goes by where I do not draw explicitly from my experiences on IMPM. Learning from other cultures and regularly employing the practice of reflection has allowed myself and my organisation to solve cross-departmental issues in a more diplomatic manner. The IMPM left me realising that organisations have conflicts for a variety of reasons, and the key to solving these is by understanding each other’s reasoning from their set of goals and aims. It forced me to question whether I am living up to my true potential personally as well as professionally.

(The writer is an industry professional with over 17 years of experience in hospitality; employed by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International based in Toronto, she heads all business to business and guest loyalty programmes for Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts worldwide)

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