Yale School of Management (SOM) professor of operations management, Sang Kim, taught a spring semester International Experience course with a focus on Korean business culture and economic history.
For SOM students, the International Experience courses serve as a case study in learning about the complexities of a particular business environment. The course begins with a half semester of classroom study and culminates with a 10-day trip to one or more business capitals, during which students visit companies and meet business and political leaders.
As part of Kim’s course, students had the opportunity to travel to South Korea and get a first-hand look at some Korean companies’ business frameworks while also fully immersing themselves in the Korean language, history, and culture.
Prior to the trip, the students were divided into groups and tasked to research and present about each of the companies they were going to visit in Korea with their classmates. One group of students explored the role of Hyundai and the evolution of electric vehicles while another focused on the comparisons between different healthcare systems. Each of these presentations provided a helpful overview that the students could refer back to throughout the trip and prepared them to ask insightful, thought-provoking questions at the meetings.
Upon arrival in Korea, the students were greeted and welcomed by Yale Club of Korea president, Charles Lho, who worked together with Kim to arrange the company meetings during the trip. Throughout their 10-day trip, the group of thirty-one SOM students visited nine corporations in varying industries including Hyundai Motor Group, Hansol Group, and Boeing Korea where they attended business meetings and spent time talking with business leaders. At these meetings, students gained a deeper understanding about Korea’s economic development and growth over the last several decades and learned about the upcoming challenges and opportunities that these businesses may face in the future. In addition, the students paid visits to two of Yale’s Korean educational partner institutions, Seoul National University and Yonsei University where they heard from Yale alumni and listened to discussions on Korean law and security and Korean healthcare systems.
The trip also included cultural activities such as a palace tour of Gyeongbokgung and visiting the Demilitarized Zone, which helped frame the trip within the cultural and historical realities that exist in Korea.
International Experience courses at SOM provide students the opportunity to learn about the complexities of a business environment in a global context and broaden their knowledge and perspectives to think more critically about the challenges and opportunities in our economic climate. According to Kim, for many students this trip was the “highlight of their MBA experience.” Through these immersive experiences, students are able to meet and hear from top business leaders and develop the necessary acumen to work effectively and to create impact in our world. Kim also said, “For the students accustomed to western culture and business practices, this trip to Korea was striking and refreshing to learn about perspectives originating from different norms.”
To learn more about the International Experience courses, visit the School of Management website.