Unsurprisingly, one of my biggest motivations for selecting the Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) program at Fuqua was the prospect of broadening my horizons through a global lens. I’ve always been interested in the intersection of government and business, and how these interactions compared across different countries, cultures, and political and economic systems. The GEMBA program combines experiential learning and structured class time in a thoughtful way to explore these systems and understand how we may navigate them as global business leaders.

Thus, Global Markets and Institutions (GMI), taught by Tony O’Driscoll, came to be one of my favorite classes throughout my GEMBA experience. GMI is a multi-term course embedded within the GEMBA curriculum designed to help us explore the institutions that shape our world today. Through our first two terms, we became acquainted with the theory of institutions and heard from a host of global leaders on the roles and evolution of our global institutions in the context of some of our most pressing global issues. Term three was on deck to continue to build on this theoretical baseline, focusing on our current climate crisis, as we rounded out the course. Then came COVID-19.

The COVID-19 crisis became a live case study in practically all of the themes we had been discussing in GMI for the first several terms. Right before us was a unique opportunity to put our learning to practice, and as the crisis waged on, a group of students (myself included), started reaching out to Professor O’Driscoll to shift the focus of our third term to the now rapidly changing world around us in the face of COVID-19.

What transpired was one of the most inspiring experiences during my time in the GEMBA program (one of many!). Alongside a cohort of GEMBA ’20 students, Professor O’Driscoll worked nearly around the clock to redesign our third term of GMI. He curated new course content, organized an enlightening speaker series, and worked with a private company (led by a Fuqua alum) to create a computer simulation of the after-effects of COVID-19. Ultimately, our GMI coursework culminated in a design thinking sprint, with assistance from design firm IDEO, centered towards ‘solving’ one of the many micro-crises or societal shifts resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.

A peek at a class discussion

While the term and the few weeks prior preparing for the pivot felt like a complete whirlwind, it was so worth it. The insights gleaned from our discussions, readings, and simulation exercises won’t be quickly forgotten. In fact, this experience really helps embody many of the aspects of the GEMBA experience: flexibility, hard work (and lots of coffee), and inspiring teamwork and collaboration. While COVID-19 introduced many challenges throughout our time as MBA students, I’m grateful to have been part of such a forward-looking community and class cohort during this crisis, as we were able to turn it into an opportunity to deepen our learning and prepare us for the uncertainties of tomorrow.