The world is not flat, but uphill – the EMBA International Business Study Trip

Lillian Zagoya (EMBA 2016) recollects her IBST to Silicon Valley alongside, amongst others, a “joyful entrepreneur from Hungary”, an “always smiley ex-captain of a Rugby team”.

It’s 6:40am, and I ran through the rain to catch a spinning class at 7am. I can’t see much except for the backs of my 4 friends: a joyful entrepreneur from Hungary, an always-smiley ex-captain of a UK rugby team, a super-outgoing USA banker and my very highly-spirited Spanish friend from the aeronautics industry. My legs, which were not in the best shape ever, started to feel the effort of climbing a hill.  We arrive just in time to start the class and it hits me: the globalised world studied in class is not flat, but uphill. There couldn’t be a better region than Silicon Valley to exemplify this. Another crazy day starts in my always-surprising Executive MBA adventure.

I travelled on the EMBA International Business Study Trip with my 80 new friends on a quest to discover what it is that makes Silicon Valley triumphant in creating successful start-ups. Our first speaker – Vitaly Golomb – taught us that at the age of 35 you should’ve tried, failed and succeeded in your entrepreneurship venture. He also said that creating your startup is both thrilling and painful, and that the world can be fully explained through cat memes! Our cohort of successful corporate and startup cats looked on with a mixture of shock and amusement.

As the trip continued we visited a number of startups including the legendary Googleplex, home to my very first EMBA teammate (Google’s organisational tools!), where I appreciated the joy of exposing my brain to a “fail-to-grow” culture. Next on the agenda was a visit to the Napa Valley’s Mondavi Winery. I discovered how much I didn’t know about marketing in the wine industry, and that living in France doesn’t necessarily make you an expert in the subject! That said, the experience helped me to appreciate the art of wine tasting. We enjoyed a relaxing dinner where jokes and interesting subjects added an extra flavour to the food.

Areas of San Francisco have their ups and downs, and part of our trip included a visit to the Tenderloin region of the city.  Walking through an area notorious for its high rate of crime and homelessness, yet within a high-tech bubble, made an impact on us. This is where we got to know more about the charitable organisation Code Tenderloin, learning about its founder and remembering that we have a responsibility to help others find their way out of such conditions.

Too much work without fun is not “EMBA”. Next step: a well-deserved session of dancing and singing. Our party experts have a second master’s degree in finding places for these EMBA participants willing to have a good time… 🙂

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