Global Experience Week 2024 student cohort


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Global learning is a unique aspect of the Imperial MBA experience. In May, our Full-Time MBA and Weekend MBA students travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, as part of their Global Experience Week.

Over the course of the week, students had a chance to engage with local businesses and Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), visit conservation areas and immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of Africa. This unforgettable experience allowed students to broaden their understanding and perspective on the critical themes of inequality and sustainability in a global business context. 

Caterina Menichelli, a Full-Time MBA student, and Bernard Gaimbu Takala, a Weekend MBA student, reflect on their experience in Nairobi, sharing key learnings around sustainability in business and how the trip has enriched their learning experience. 

The Global Experience trip to Kenya was an eye-opening journey that offered deep insights into the challenges and opportunities present in the African business landscape. It was an immersive experience that combined academic learning with practical exposure, fostering a greater appreciation for the diversity and potential within the continent. Caterina Menichelli, Full-Time MBA 

Caterina Menichelli, Full-Time MBA student 2024

Caterina Menichelli, Full-Time MBA

My Kenya experience

During the trip, we undertook several key academic activities that significantly contributed to my professional growth. We participated in workshops with local businesses, where we analysed their business models and proposed strategic improvements. These sessions sharpened my consulting skills and allowed me to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios. 

We also attended seminars on the economic landscape of Kenya, led by experts from various sectors. These seminars provided deep insights into the unique challenges and opportunities within the Kenyan market, enhancing my understanding of economic and political factors influencing business operations in emerging markets. 

Overall, these academic activities not only enriched my knowledge but also equipped me with practical skills and a nuanced perspective on global business strategies.

Working with local Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs)

Learning from NGOs in Kenya was incredibly rewarding. It taught me the importance of adaptability and cultural sensitivity in implementing business solutions. I learned about the unique challenges faced by non-profits in resource-limited settings and the innovative strategies they employ to overcome these obstacles. This experience underscored the significance of social impact and sustainability in business practices.

Understanding sustainability in business

Engaging with local enterprises that prioritise sustainable practices demonstrated how businesses can thrive while contributing to environmental and social well-being. A key takeaway was learning that sustainability doesn't have to come at a premium. These enterprises showed that integrating sustainable practices can lead to innovative solutions and long-term success without necessarily incurring higher costs. This experience reinforced the idea that sustainability is not just a corporate responsibility but also a strategic driver for innovation and competitiveness in the global market. 

A personal highlight was visiting local startups like Arc Ride and BasiGo. Witnessing firsthand their innovative approaches to solving local transportation and sustainability challenges was truly inspiring. 

Interacting with the passionate entrepreneurs behind these ventures and seeing their dedication to making a positive impact reaffirmed my commitment to leveraging business for social good and highlighted the immense potential of innovation in driving sustainable development. 

Kenya Global Experience Week 2024 - students visiting local businesses
Learning about sustainability at a local business

Understanding business in Africa

Business in Africa is incredibly diverse and dynamic and the experience has shifted my perspective, highlighting the importance of understanding local contexts and the need for tailored approaches in global business strategies. It has also strengthened my leadership skills and my ability to think strategically about global business challenges and opportunities.

Tackling inequality in business

From the trip, I learnt that businesses can address inequality by fostering inclusive growth, investing in local talent, and supporting community-driven initiatives.  

It is crucial for businesses to create opportunities for marginalized groups and to implement practices that promote social and economic equity. By partnering with local organisations and focusing on sustainable development, businesses can play a pivotal role in reducing inequality. 

Exploring Nairobi

Beyond the academic aspect, I gained a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of Kenya and the resilience of its people. Immersing myself in the local culture involved engaging with community members, participating in traditional events, and exploring the local cuisine and customs. 

The experience broadened my worldview, improved my cross-cultural communication skills, and provided a renewed sense of purpose and motivation to contribute positively to global business practices. 

Caterina Menichelli, Global Experience Week safari trip
Caterina Menichelli and coursemates on safari

Key takeaways

The trip to Kenya provided several key takeaways that have profoundly impacted my understanding of global business. Firstly, I learned that cultural sensitivity is crucial for effective business operations in diverse environments. The trip underscored the vast potential of emerging markets, particularly in Africa, and also highlighted the power of collaboration. Working alongside local NGOs and businesses showed how joint efforts can lead to impactful solutions for social and environmental issues.  

Overall, the trip emphasised that innovation, sustainability, and collaboration are key drivers of long-term business success in a global context. 

Advice to other MBA students

Approach the experience with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Embrace the cultural differences, actively participate in all activities, and take the time to reflect on your learnings.  

Additionally, take advantage of the opportunity to bond with your cohort, including students from the Full-Time, Weekend, and Global Online MBA programmes. Building relationships with local partners and fellow students can enhance the overall experience and create a strong network of support and collaboration. Finally, remember that this is a unique opportunity to broaden your horizons and gain insights that will be valuable in your future career. 

Global Experience Week 2024 student cohort
Bonding with coursemates in Kenya
Bernard Gaimbu Takala, Weekend MBA 2024

Bernard Gaimbu Takala, Weekend MBA

My Kenya experience

The Global Experience Week to Kenya was very enlightening for me. It gave me a small insight into the dynamic and rapidly evolving business landscape of Africa. The trip offered a unique opportunity to engage with a diverse range of entrepreneurs and businesses, from a first-class legacy law firm to innovative startups in the sanitation sector. The experience underscored the immense potential for growth in Africa, especially with the anticipated influx of over 700 million young Africans into the labour force.

A sustainability standout

One standout example is Sanergy, a company we visited in Kenya that exemplifies the principles of a circular economy and closely aligns with the triple bottom line approach of People, Profit and Planet.

Sanergy operates a hybrid model that combines for-profit and non-profit arms to address the sanitation crisis in Nairobi's informal settlements. The model not only addresses environmental sustainability by reducing waste and promoting recycling but also contributes to social sustainability by improving public health and creating jobs for residents. 

What I learnt about business in Africa

The trip reinforced that there is immense potential for innovation and growth on the continent. Understanding and adapting to local contexts is essential for successful business operations in different regions.

It highlighted the critical role of private enterprises in driving development and sustainability, while also raising important questions about the balance between private sector initiatives and government responsibilities.