For MBA and Executive MBA participants, international study tours and learning experiences are an important part of their studies. In addition to providing an opportunity to complete modules in a new environment, study tours offer them a great chance to build their professional and personal networks and explore new cultures and places.
The Covid-19 pandemic paused study tours and intercultural encounters across the globe for a long time, but now Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE) is slowly getting “back to normal” also in terms of arranging international study tours in its premises in Helsinki.
In September 2021, Aalto EE hosted the very first study tour since the start of the global pandemic, as a group of MBA and EMBA participants from Warwick Business School visited Helsinki to complete a study module on Design Thinking and Service Design.
“The ability to go abroad again is fantastic”
During the five-day tour, the participants had an opportunity to dive deep into the world of design thinking and service design from various perspectives, combining theory with practice and concepts with experimentation - and all this with a Finnish and Nordic flavor. Over the week, they listened to relevant keynotes and lectures by academics and business leaders, visited companies and places like the Helsinki Central Library Oodi, and explored the Finnish capital region.
Bhavik Sanhvi and Chris Man
According to Chris Man, EMBA participant, and Bhavik Sanghvi, MBA participant, the possibility to study in a new environment provided by this study tour was very valuable and something they both enjoyed. “Having gone through Covid, the ability to go abroad again is fantastic,” says Man. “It exposes us to different professors and lectures, but also thinking.”
“I work in the IT industry, and I had heard of Helsinki being a design capital, so it was obviously an opportunity to come and see how things actually happen,” adds Sanghvi.
The first face-to-face experience
For many participants, this was the first time they travelled abroad since countries started closing their borders in March 2020. Moreover, many of them had not studied in the same physical space with other participants at any point of their studies, before arriving in Helsinki.
“I’m on a distance-learning MBA, so this is actually the first face-to-face experience that I’ve had since I started in June 2020. It’s been a very special time,” says Chrissie Smith.
She notes that she learns best by doing, and therefore, the learning methods used in the on-site Design Thinking and Service Design module suited her particularly well. In the mornings, the participants heard lectures that discussed the theory of a certain topic, and in the afternoon, they had a chance to apply those learnings while working on assignments with co-participants from diverse backgrounds.
Smith also points out that the possibility of being able to experience different cultures and different areas is an important part of study tours. “Particularly being where we are in Helsinki, design is such a rich part of the city. Being able to see it and experience it is so much more than reading it in a book or online.”
A fellow MBA participant Rodolfo Falcao agrees. He decided to arrive in Helsinki a few days before the start of the module, to have more time to get to know the city and see places that are relevant also from a design point of view. “Even before the class and now during the class every evening, I try to explore a little bit of the city and relate it to what I’m learning.”
Both Smith and Falcao mention that this type of exposure to different people, ideas, areas, and cultures certainly brings added value to their MBA experience. As Falcao sumps up, when you combine all this, you have a great study tour experience.
Study tours are an important part of EMBA and MBA studies. Aalto EE arranges them for people studying at other universities, as well as participants of its own degree programs. Read more about our study tours