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Embracing business abroad

A favourite element of studying the Full-time MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) is being able to embrace the connection between business and culture in a variety of ways throughout the programme. This might be in class, careers events with international companies and alumni and also attending the study tours to a variety of the AMBS worldwide centres.

I attended the Dubai study tour where I took the International Business Strategy elective as part of my 18-month Full-time MBA programme. It was an immersive 5-day experience that comprised of lectures, workshops, company visits, networking events and down time to be able to really soak in the Dubai lifestyle. 

rodrigo student in dubai

Day one

We went to Jumeriah Emirates Towers in the heart of Dubai’s financial district which had an impressive view of the Museum of the Future for our first day of workshops. The workshop gave us an overview of international business strategy in a globalised economy and explored the importance of institutions and culture in business. We also had networking opportunities during the break, where we met some of the current Global MBA students who were attending other workshops. To finish the day, we explored the gold and spices market in the old city of Dubai.

Day two

We were back at the Dubai centre and looking at one of the most successful cases of internationalisation strategies, discussing its achievements and flaws. In the afternoon, we had an event about the Fintech Landscape in the Middle East and the current opportunities in the market. This was led by an AMBS alumnus who is a senior consultant at the International Finance Corporation.  This event allowed me to connect with students and alumni with interests in the technology and fintech sectors, including business developers, venture capitalists and consultants. It was interesting to understand the mindset of people who move to the United Arab Emirates for business, the challenges they faced and above all how culture plays an important role in the world’s leading economies.

Day three

Our last day of lectures we studied a case about cross-cultural management and strategic alliance formation. We also attended a career session about how to build your own brand and make it stand out, this was led by a current recruiter from Dubai. The session encouraged both Full-time MBA and Global MBA students to work together and reflect on what can make a professional stand out in the job market. Another great session that allowed me to interact with students, alumni and the careers and alumni relations manager from the Middle East Centre.

Day four

I would say this was the most immersive day of the study tour. We met with local companies with long trajectories and success in the market. We met an AMBS alumnus currently working as CFO for The Landmark Group, alongside his team they presented the company, performance and goals, especially those related to sustainable business.  This had a focus on social and environmental practices. During this visit we had the opportunity to showcase our ideas and strategies to develop more sustainable practices in each of the business units of the group.

We also met the business analytics and growth manager of DBX, a company engaged in the events and communications service provision in Dubai. This is one of the largest growing industries in the UAE, with its expansion crossing borders in the Middle Easter region. We gained some practical experience, as we were invited to develop a lean business canvas to strategise the business expansion to new locations. We were able to put into practice our teachings from the workshops. Doing this helped us to all expand our network, understand the local businesses and gain more international exposure.

Day five

The last day of the study tour we had a flavour of cultures, business and technology. We visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. This is one of the largest and most visited mosques in the world. My key takeaway from this was the importance of tolerance, co-existence and peace as the greatest principles for which Sheikh Zayed wanted the UAE to be known. To finish the day, we were welcomed back to the Dubai centre for a guest speaker session about business in the metaverse and how this platform for the digital economy is growing. This was an insightful session which explained what the metaverse is, why companies are entering it and what the benefits of doing business in the metaverse are.

A few of us from our class stayed on after the tour ended so we could continue to explore the city and surroundings. We took a trip to the Arabian desert, the Dubai Mall, The Palm Jumeriah and other local attractions. The Dubai Study Tour was an excellent experience that combined academic knowledge put into real life scenarios, it gave me more cultural awareness, I learnt about business in another country, the appreciation of diversity and international networking and corporate exposure.

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