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Redefining Executive Education

Student Blog

I have always been drawn to, as well as interested in discovering, emerging markets. Having the opportunity to do the program on Doing Business in Africa through ISM, I was already excited about the program at the beginning of my studies. I began planning my trip to Cape Town during the summer and was counting days until my departure. In my previous blog, I shared my experience with the program itself. For this post, I will share my experience beyond the seminars.

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The highlight of my first year studying at ISM was attending the program on Doing Business in Africa. It took place at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business in Cape Town, South Africa, during the months of October and November. This was my first trip to the African continent ever, and also my first group of seminars outside of Paris with ISM. I had such a great time there.  The trip was so enriching and valuable; from the quality of seminars, exploring the city and surrounding areas, culture and communities, to making lifelong friendships with other attendees of the program. I have decided to devote two blog posts to my trip to Cape Town. In this first one, I will describe the seminars. For my next post, I will share my experiences from trips as well as other activities I did in my free time there.

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It is clear that pursuing an Executive MBA program while working full-time is without a doubt challenging. It requires self-discipline and some level of lifestyle change to ensure better time management for studying and writing assignments. Even though there have been times when I wished that I had chosen to study full-time and concentrate solely on the MBA program, being able to apply the knowledge I gain during classes immediately to my job is invaluable.
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It’s been over 10 years since the last time I lived in my home country. I lived in the United States and now, I live in Belgium. When I am asked today where my home is, I am not able to answer. Is it the town where I grew up, Prague, Denver or Brussels? People say your home is where your heart is. My heart seems to be spread across all the places I have lived in.This leads me to believe that in today’s globalized world, when many of us often move to new places for work, school or any other reason, we become citizens of the world.

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At the beginning of January, I attended the first of the many seminars I have planned to take this year in Paris. Although this wasn't my first trip to Paris, it was the first time I went to the International School of Management.

About two months in advance of every seminar, all the necessary documents, including the syllabus, required reading, pre-seminar assignments and other needed documents are posted on the school's learning management system for students called "MyISM". This gives students enough time to be well prepared for seminars.

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The investment into an MBA program, whether it is time, money or energy, is significant and requires a high level of commitment. So, it is very important to choose the right program. The MBA market has become quite saturated with many schools offering MBA degrees. With the development of technology and people wanting to work full-time while studying, schools have adapted to the needs of students and broadened the selection of their programs.

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Being a student in the IEMBA program, I have some flexibility to create my own schedule so that I can study while working full time. However, it is essential for me to plan ahead. For that reason, I devoted the first month at ISM to planning. I signed up for classes for the next 7 months, familiarized myself with the schools' online platform and all the tools we have available to us, as well as working on my first assignment.

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After getting to know more about my study program and the school itself, I must say there is truly a reason why the school has the word "international" in the name.

In one of my previous blogs, I already mentioned the possibility of studying in 6 different countries (including France) during the program, which was one of the major factors why I decided to study at this school.

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I started my first job shortly after completing my first degree, and I found that the real workplace was quite different from the classroom and from the internships. It was a rough immersion into the real world. Eighteen years and a number of jobs later, I found myself looking for options to broaden my knowledge and give some additional and fresh theoretical framework to what I have acquired through my work experience. Given my area of work, an MBA came up as the next natural step.

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I am preparing to leave Liberia for good, with no clear work destination or timeframe to date. After some insane months, I have finally made peace with the fact that I am not the one who gets to choose this time, and that I have no control on the timing of whatever is going to happen. I now have a one-way ticket out of Liberia and into Paris, which is where I will be for my next post , if, of course, my flight does not get cancelled because of the (small) Ebola outbreak affecting Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Some countries in the area have closed borders or banned flights coming from the affected areas. In addition, an 8.3 magnitude earthquake followed by a minor tsunami, and a huge fire which to date has destroyed about 2.500 houses and affected some 12.000 people, have rattled my country in these past weeks. Too many events, too many emotions, too much…

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