What really happens at an On-Demand Regional Business Experience (RBE) trip? (Part 1)

By Kelly Swanson

For those of you who have never gone on an “RBE” as we call it, it’s a Regional Business Experience and it’s designed to broaden your perspective for which might otherwise be tied to a certain narrow point of view. Very few college students’ leave the U.S. when they venture off to college; going as far as the east coast from the west coast and vice versus. At Thunderbird School of Global Business we didn’t become number one by providing the same recycle education that others provide. The RBE is the cornerstone of our journey to enlightenment. RBE’s take us to different economic centers around the globe such as Lima, Hong Kong, South Africa, Dubai, and Geneva to name just a few. These “power” cities are rich with economic expansion and consumer growth among the business world, and we choose to study them, learn from them, and even advise them.  We learn by example, working alongside corporations, in the environment they exist. We don’t simply read about them in a book or white paper, rather we study companies up close, meet their leaders, and speak with them getting their first hand perspective.

Two business colleagues of mine, who graduated from Harvard Business School and the University of Utah Business School, envied the fact that “things have changed” since they went to school.  I heard the familiar “…back when I went to school we didn’t” phrase and smiled. Of course, I know even if a program specializes separately in “international” or “global” studies, their not going to get the same expansive education that a T-bird gets. Sorry, not everyone can be a T-bird. This week, I am in Lima, Peru and so far it’s fantastic. Nothing about what I read could prepare me for this experience. When I read about Peru in travel guides, and online it’s either about ruins, crime, or something other than a personal cultural experience. You cannot gather facts about a place from a book or a person’s point of view. You have to walk the streets, talk to the people, eat their food, and make an attempt to be social. Peruvians are a proud culture and its indicative of the conversations I have had so far with the locals. “Times have changed, Peru has changed” is what each person has said in so many words. From the taxi driver who spoke of himself being a “niño” growing up in a mountain village; moving to the city to escape poverty in his village, to a waitress who loves “American Hershey Kisses,” and a street cleaner cleaning the streets at midnight for S80 Nuevo Soles a month or about $35.

On-Demand students get an experience of a lifetime stuffed into 6 days, from 7AM to 10PM. This week Professor Roy Nelson has arranged for us to visit the U.S. Embassy, Alicorp, GroupoATV, Megaplaza one of the largest malls in Peru (started by a Thunderbird alumni), various dinners at local establishments, and Peru based alumni hosting a mixer. The unscheduled stops are plenty with many options to take in a quick side trip or late night casino. Remember that in the On-Demand program you’re not only working with your class cohort, but also with Executive MBA, and partner University students enrolled in the Global certification course that also must complete the two RBE’s. It’s one of the required ingredients to make a Thunderbird. Stay tuned for more on-demand information from Lima. This is just the beginning and you don’t want to miss what’s coming up! See you next week, and remember the bird is the word!

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Michael Reardon

Michael Reardon

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