Posted on: December 8, 2011

Finding A Sense of Direction

Finding A Sense of Direction

This post was written by new VIU Blog Contributor, Gabriela Pereira. Gabriela is pursuing her MBA in International Business at VIU. Join me in welcoming Gabriela’s thoughts and words on VIU’s Blog!

I recently had to develop a “personal business plan” for the International Business Strategy class that is part of my MBA program this semester. The plan had to include my personal goals and a self-analysis that would evaluate what I would like to accomplish in different aspects of life in a 5-year timeframe. As I wrote that plan I began to wonder if a student’s self-analysis should be mandatory for all business schools. Business school is serious business. It involves much more than coming to the conclusion that you need a graduate degree to get a good job; it is much more than achieving a high GPA and attending classes. Alright, let’s find out what is this all about.

Let’s start with the smaller picture. As an international student getting out of college with an undergraduate degree no matter where you are from you have to ask yourself: what do I want to do with my life? What am I passionate about that can drive me to overcome obstacles and pursue something with all my strength? That is the initial question because business is about passionate people who believe in an idea, don’t have the resources to back up that idea but will pursue it until it becomes an accomplishment. But it all comes back to the core purpose, it all comes back to the mission, it all comes back to answering: why am I doing this?

Importantly, more than being able to “make the grade” and get the “A” by answering the test’s question with the right answer: are we asking the right questions? Going to the bigger picture in the light of the “Occupy Wall Street” Movement and the global financial crisis affecting Europe and the United States what are international business students producing academically and professionally that can create value and contribute to the business community and all its stakeholders? The modern financial institutions are being questioned and many talk about the failure of capitalism and free-market model. Are those protesters getting it wrong? Society wants its share on the value companies have created and international business managers have to know how to deal with an interconnected global society that in many times have access to financial information and wants to keep the financial and business institutions accountable. This is a reality that should concern business school students.

At VIU there are many international students from various backgrounds. Some of them are from the BRIC nations and from developing countries that are taking over the news all around the world given their rapid economic development. Many students don’t even know how valuable they are. These days to be successful in business you ought to have some degree of knowledge of the business culture of those emerging countries and many students have that knowledge. Thus, they enter business school with a certain degree of understanding of that complex global reality.

I have been asking myself what do words like pioneer and visionary mean for business these days. Do they mean that one is able to come up with latest innovative technological idea that will make my cell phone faster and more useful? Do they mean we can create new types of canned food or salad dressing? Do they mean that services will be provided with the highest quality of customer service and contractual compliance? I believe we can do more than that. The next generation of business school students should be thinking bigger.

The business school students should be thinking about where they are in this big picture and what do they want to get out of that. From the bottom of our hearts let’s hope it’s not simply to go and get a job at the stock exchange. Can us as students, question the structures of the system we live in and not only be passive critics but an active class of students who not only demand change but are the change and can come up with the right questions rather than the standardized “A” answer for the test.  If we start with an honest and clear personal project, a genuine passionate interest in business then we have it all. That will give us a sense of direction to be able to know where we are and where we are headed as business students.