Lacey Lowber is a member and Class Representative of the Evening MBA Class of 2017. She currently works at Starbucks in Category and Marketing Finance, supporting the Espresso and Brewed businesses in US Retail. When not at work or at school, she enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga, and spending time with her fiancee, friends and family. In this blog post, she shares with us her international experiences through the Foster Evening MBA Program.
Why did you decide to go on the India Consulting Trip?
When I first learned about the India Consulting Trip during Women at the Top (Foster MBA elective course), it sounded like an opportunity too good to pass up. I also owe it to my friend and classmate Stacy Hanks for encouraging me so strongly to consider the trip! I hadn’t had a chance to do any sort of a field study with a local organization through Foster, and was excited at the prospect of doing consulting work on site for such an incredible organization as SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association). The timing worked out well right before the Christmas holiday and was a very compelling way to earn four credits. I had never previously traveled to India but had always been interested in the culture and people – this trip was the perfect opportunity to gain valuable work experience, earn class credit, give back to a worthy organization, and experience a country I’d always wanted to visit.
What was your favorite part of the trip? What did you bring back with you?
My favorite part of the trip was undoubtedly the people we met and interacted with, from our fabulous guide, Sanjay Mishra, to the inspiring women who are members and leaders of SEWA. I brought back with me a true sense of appreciation for the opportunities I’ve had as a woman born and raised in the United States. The women of SEWA have faced incredible challenges and succeeded in spite of them – they helped me realize how truly fortunate I’ve been!
As far as physical items, I brought back a lot of tea, incense, and handmade clothing items purchased from my group’s SEWA client, the SEWA Trade Facilitation Center (STFC). You can see some of these beautiful garments in the group photo of my teammates with some of the master artisans we visited with in Radhanpur village.
How do you think this experience will impact you (personally, professionally, academically) moving forward?
This experience was certainly once in a lifetime and one that I know will continue to have an impact on me. Personally and professionally, it’s given me a true appreciation for how challenging it can be to do business in a culture completely foreign to your own. It also reinforced my belief that a positive outlook, an open mind, and a kind, caring heart are some of the most important things you can bring to any situation. Even though many of the folks we interacted with spoke little to no English and we spoke no Hindi, our smiles and caring affect were perfectly understood.
Academically, this experience challenged me to keep learning and to stay curious! When our client clarified for us that their ultimate goal was to fully employ its artisan members, not to maximize profitability, it was a great reminder that our business school paradigms may not apply to every situation.
What did you think of the client, SEWA? How are Foster MBA students making an impact?
SEWA is a first class organization of talented, hardworking and brilliant women. Formally organized as a trade union, SEWA empowers its members to first and foremost be self-sufficient and earn an income, and additionally gives members access to banking services, education, childcare, and a host of other opportunities that would be nearly impossible to come by otherwise.
Foster MBA students are making a lasting impact on this organization by continuing to contribute each year to various SEWA initiatives ranging from sanitation and hygiene to website development to branding strategy. By remaining flexible and working hard on SEWA’s behalf, Foster MBA students are providing valuable insights and work product that the organization would not have sufficient resources to complete otherwise.
You also went on last year’s study tour. How did that experience differ from this one? Which one would you recommend?
I went on the study tour in Cuba as a second year evening student, and while the experience was amazing, it was also completely different than the consulting trip in India. The purpose of each trip was quite different – Cuba was more experiential and aimed at education and immersion in Cuban culture and industry, while India was focused on serving our client.
We were fortunate to visit Cuba at a historic time – the country’s borders had just been re-opened to tourism and relations with the United States were somewhat normalized. President Obama was visiting the same time as our group, and though we weren’t able to get a meeting (ha) we did hear overwhelming positivity from many Cuban citizens who dreamed to experience life outside of the island. It was fun to practice speaking Spanish and to leave small gifts for our taxi drivers, maids, and waiters as many items that we take for granted are not widely available.
We had the opportunity to visit the Havana Club distillery, hear from the president and directors of the Cuban baseball federation, learn about the architecture and history of Havana, tour a sugar cane mill and even cut some ourselves, visit an art exhibition in Havana, share a hand prepared meal with a Cuban family that we befriended during our trip that invited us to their home, and smoke many a fine cigar. I will never forget sitting in a sports bar in Cienfuegos watching the Tampa Bay Ray’s play the Cuban national team with members of our group as well as some locals.
In summary – I would recommend both study tours! They were both fantastic experiences that I would not have been able to take advantage of if not for Foster.
Overall, what do you think of the Evening MBA Program’s study abroad opportunities? How do they set Foster apart?
I definitely consider myself an advocate for the Evening MBA’s international opportunities! I sought out chances to study abroad while completing my undergraduate education and was happy to have the opportunity to continue to do so as a graduate student. Seeing and experiencing other parts of the world truly make you appreciate what you have, and Foster does a great job of organizing meaningful international programs that allow for great exposure and learning.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Wondering if the Foster Evening MBA Program is the right fit for you? To make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office, call 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622, or email us at [email protected]