Communicating and connecting with people makes business work

Author Mira Kauppi

Published 22.2.2022

Executive MBA

The Henley Executive MBA’s International Business module includes a Global Immersion Study Visit that enables students to visit iconic companies abroad and work on real-life international business consulting projects for companies from different sectors.

After the International Business workshop in Helsinki, Finland, we took off to the Global Immersion Study Visit in Miami, Florida, where we met with other students from Denmark, Germany and the UK. The focus of the study visit was on learning by doing and really getting to know the entrepreneurs in the Miami area. Additionally, we had a full line-up of speakers who helped us get a better understanding of the right strategies for successful business in a rapidly globalising world.

Every morning started in a different location around the city with interesting presentations from local start-up entrepreneurs or investors who supported these start-ups. It was fascinating to learn of Miami’s pivotal role as a gateway to South America and the Latin markets.

Our role was to act as international consultants, providing advice on the start-up’s plan to go abroad and grow internationally. Meeting the entrepreneurs face to face helped us gain a better appreciation for their business and challenges and also get into their mindset and ask ourselves – what does this really mean for them? And how can we offer value from our own expertise?

Before we left for Miami for our study visit, we had all been divided into groups and had begun to work on our own start-up in advance. In total, six groups of Henley students worked on consulting projects for three companies. This meant there were two consulting groups working on each company.

Our team was given a consulting project for a venture capital company that invests in AI and tech start-ups mainly in the US but also has a few international hubs globally. This company takes a real hands-on approach to their operations from the very beginning of the relationship.

It was extremely beneficial to get feedback on our ideas from our project company in person. This helped us better understand their business situation and what to take into account in our recommendations.

We were to complete the project after our return home. In that part, we were to propose which country to target first. We needed to explore the problems we had discovered while spending time with the entrepreneurs in Miami and evaluate which issues they should consider when approaching that market. From the International Business module, we got frameworks to use for our analyses.

A very nice start for the week was a cruise we took on the first evening. It was beautiful to see Miami from the ocean and great to get to know everyone a bit better before our week started.

Although my group had students from diverse backgrounds, we all worked really well together as a team. Very often, we resorted to humour for a better cultural understanding.

Since my background is in mathematics, and not international business, I was a bit worried about how I could contribute to our group work. I was happy to notice how much my previous working experience had already taught me, and what we learned during the Executive MBA studies was very useful. I noticed that if you know your business basics, and you know how to communicate and connect with people – it’s not that complicated but requires courage!

I came to appreciate the amount of courage these entrepreneurs must have to get everything going. It’s risky, and they need to work with the right people.

Yet I realised it’s how you relate to people and how well you connect with them that makes you and your business succeed. In fact, it was exactly the same as within our teams. In the end, it’s all just human business.

Would I recommend this study visit to others? Absolutely! And my advice? Go with an open mind. Be who you are – and be sincere. Be curious. In the end, you will go home with a lot of new connections!

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Mira Kauppi

Mira Kauppi is an Executive MBA student from Helsinki, Finland. Previously, she graduated from the University of Helsinki with major in math. She is also a licensed non-life insurance actuary with almost 20 years of financial industry experience. Currently, she works at Ilmarinen Pension Insurance company as department head with business controllers and data analysts. She enjoys studying and learning new things and getting to know new people. Her life is quite busy, but very interesting, with family, work and her Executive MBA studies.