After three weeks of Global Managerial Economics, Statistical Models, and Global Immersion pre-residency preparation, my Global Executive MBA classmates and I descended on the vibrant city of Bangkok, Thailand. Some of the group arrived a few days early, eager to immerse themselves in Thai culture and shake off jet lag. I, however, decided to thread the needle and travel ~26 hours, arriving the day before classes started—a rookie mistake, no doubt!

After a welcome reception at the Siam Kempinski Hotel (AMAZING!!!), many of us retired for the night, gearing up for our first day of residency lectures and coursework. Others took an opportunity to continue exploring the city with other classmates, further strengthening bonds and connections.

A local dance troupe performing in front of a projector screen reading "The Duke MBA - Global Executive Class of 2025 Bangkok Residency Orientation, October 27, 2023"
A local dance troupe kicks off our orientation with a spectacular performance, setting the tone for the days ahead

Over nine exhilarating days, we accumulated 50+ study hours by delving into the complexities of Managerial Economics and Statistical Models through lectures, cases, and team projects. We also dedicated more than 10 hours to Thailand immersion opportunities. Here are some of my favorite experiences from the trip.

Corporate Visits

Some of us toured the Jewellista/Tiger Jewelry Manufacturing, Ltd. corporate office and jewelry lab. As a Walmart associate, I particularly enjoyed the visit, considering Tiger Jewelry is one of Walmart’s suppliers. The other half of our group took an opportunity to explore the Bumrungrad International Hospital, examining the intricacies of Bangkok’s healthcare management.

A group of Global Executive MBA students on a tour of Jewellist/Tiger Jewelry Manufacturing, Ltd. in Thailand
Touring Jewellista, one of the corporate visits available during our Bangkok residency

Cultural Tours

One of my highlights was touring Thailand’s Grand Palace and joining my classmates on a longtail boat ride along the Thonburi Canal. A word of advice for future Grand Palace visitors: remember your elephant pants! Others chose to explore the city by joining a Bangkok bike tour, discovering its hidden gems from the densely populated residential areas to the bustling commercial areas.

Fuqua students and staff on a Thonburi Canal ride in Thailand
Taking a ride along the Thonburi Canal, often called the “Venice of the East”

Thailand’s Distinguished Guest Speakers

The opportunity to gain insights from esteemed native guest speakers and Duke alums further enriched our residency experience. Taew Mahasaranond, MBA ’03, and Joint General Manager of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, shared her perspective on women in leadership, navigating careers in male-concentrated industries like financial services, and shared advice about leveraging a Duke MBA in our careers. Dr. Jon Wongswan, Head of Investment Solutions at Phatra Securities, provided a data-driven overview of Thailand’s economy, major industries, and political layout. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from Duke.

Making an Impact

Our cohort worked together to raise funds and volunteer for the first Global Impact Project (GIP) initiative, benefitting the Foundation for Slum Child Care, an organization that supports underprivileged children across Bangkok. GIP collected $1,800 in financial donations and other essential materials, providing approximately 15 days’ worth of supplies and meals. Members of our cohort founded GIP to intertwine our Executive MBA journey with the mission of collaborating with various support organizations worldwide.

Career Development

Fuqua’s Career Management Center (CMC) facilitated a series of insightful sessions. In a student panel, a handful of talented leaders in our cohort discussed moving up in your organization. We also performed a CliftonStrengths team-building exercise and participated in one-on-one sessions with CMC career coaches on location.

Some gained exceptional leadership insights at a Women in Business luncheon. One of our many extraordinary women business leaders in the cohort, Hedieh Evans, shared what she learned from her construction industry experiences.

Reflecting on the start of my MBA journey, I am thankful for the support of my Fuqua community, loved ones, and colleagues. Their influence has been pivotal in shaping an overall extraordinary MBA learning environment. The breadth of experiences and memories from just two semesters excites me for what’s in store in future terms and beyond the program!