Reflections on My MBA Study Abroad Trip to South Africa

Guest Post By: Macey McGovern, a 2024 Foster Evening MBA Candidate. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through a Study Tour to South Africa, during Spring Break 2023.

Studying abroad is a transformative experience that opens our minds to different cultures, perspectives, and business practices. As part of my MBA program, I had the opportunity to participate in the Winter 2023 MBA Study Tour to South Africa.

During the study tour, I gained valuable knowledge about the business environment in South Africa. The unique opportunities and challenges faced by companies in the country post-Apartheid provided me with a deeper understanding of global business. Through interactive discussions with business leaders, academics, and peers from South African institutions, I explored different industries, market trends, and competitive strategies. Additionally, I better understood the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a competitive business strategy.

Immersed in a new culture quite far from Seattle, I had the chance to reflect on my own values, beliefs, and personal growth. Visiting diverse environments, such as businesses running out of homes, factories run entirely by women, and warehouses where every task is still manual, allowed me to appreciate cultural differences and fostered my adaptability and resilience. The study abroad experience pushed me out of my comfort zone, helping me to develop greater self-confidence and independence.

My study abroad trip to South Africa will have a lasting impact on my life and career. It expanded my global perspective and cultural competency, enabling me to easily navigate diverse business environments. The exposure to South Africa’s business landscape and insights into its economy gave me a unique perspective on global opportunities. Furthermore, the learnings from this trip will shape my leadership approach, emphasizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in creating sustainable and successful organizations.

Exploring South Africa provided ample opportunities for cultural immersion, travel, and field trips. From visiting iconic landmarks in Johannesburg to experiencing the breathtaking wildlife in Kruger National Park and the captivating beauty of Cape Town, every adventure contributed to my understanding of South African culture and its diverse landscapes. Engaging with locals and participating in cultural activities such as sports and music enriched my experience and made me want to return as soon as possible to show friends and family a glimpse of what I experienced.

My study abroad trip to South Africa yielded several key takeaways that will shape my personal and professional journey. These takeaways include:

  • The importance of embracing diversity and inclusion as drivers of innovation and business success.
  • The significance of understanding the local business landscape and cultural nuances when operating in a global context.
  • The power of experiential learning in gaining in-depth knowledge about a country and its people, and trying to make those experiences happen whenever possible.