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Global Field Experience: Expanding Gender Equality Education in Peru

by Abbey Hartgrove, Director of Global Programs and Experiential Learning

(From left to right) Karen Verboski, Nikki Beittenmiller, Gaby Perez, Dana Vazquez, and Luis-Miguel Padilla
(From left to right) Karen Verboski, Nikki Beittenmiller, Ximena González (Heroínas Peruanas), Dana Vazquez, and Luis-Miguel Padilla

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day (March 8), we want to highlight a 2023 Global Field Experience (GFE) project that supported a gender equality non-profit in Peru. Five Rice MBA students partnered with Heroínas Peruanas, a Lima-based organization that promotes gender equality education by creating and selling books about inspirational Peruvian women. Aiming to expand their services into gender equality consulting for the U.S. Latino/a/x market, Heroínas Peruanas enlisted the Rice MBA team to assess their growth potential and strategy.

Developing an expansion plan for Heroínas Peruanas raised certain challenges. The organization has a small team working on multiple projects part-time, so they needed to carefully allocate time and finances. Resources had to be meticulously accounted for and prioritized across operational needs, promotional efforts and the publishing pipeline. Also, the part-time nature of the team meant there were logistical hurdles to coordinating availability for strategic planning sessions. Heroínas Peruanas needed to balance its time and budget across existing commitments before undertaking new growth opportunities.

Upon starting their consulting project, the MBA team also recognized the difficulties of culturally adapting to the U.S. market and competing against larger editorial firms. While the core message of celebrating influential women resonates across cultures, the finer points of storytelling, representation, and marketing require thoughtful localization efforts. The students understood early on that succeeding in the U.S. market hinged on Heroínas Peruanas’s ability to customize its services.

To help Heroínas Peruanas overcome these hurdles, the MBA team advised them to build new partnerships, leverage existing networks, and differentiate their consultancy to the unique needs of potential clients. All these efforts led the organization to identify opportunities to expand their brand and impact. They conducted a market feasibility analysis, identified key stakeholders and partners in the region, and crafted a marketing strategy to launch Heroínas Peruanas’ new consulting services.

“The Global Field Experience was a transformative learning opportunity,” shared Karen Verboski ’24. “We gained crucial consulting experience and developed a deeper understanding of the nuances involved in navigating different cultural contexts and market dynamics.”

The team was led by Yan Anthea Zhang, Fayez Sarofim Vanguard Professor of Management. Throughout the GFE, faculty members provide students with strategic frameworks — but they do not offer specific solutions to the problems they face. “The faculty guidance and support were vital,” noted Nikki Beittenmiller ’24. “We were able to apply our classroom learnings in a real-world setting while receiving mentorship from one of the best instructors at Rice.”

Implementing the project’s recommendations benefited Heroínas Peruanas by diversifying revenue streams and strengthening organizational capacity. Crucially, it positioned the non-profit for long-term growth in promoting gender equality in education, ensuring a lasting positive impact on the lives of women and young girls in Peru and beyond. “The GFE exemplifies the type of immersive, experiential learning that sets the Rice MBA program apart,” shared Balaji Koka, Associate Professor of Strategic Management and academic director of global programming. “Our students not only develop vital consulting and leadership skills but also cultivate a global mindset that prepares them to drive meaningful change in diverse business environments.”

On this International Women’s Day, as we celebrate the progress made toward gender equality and reflect on the work that remains, we recognize the role of organizations like Heroínas Peruanas to empower women and girls globally. By supporting an organization that breaks down barriers and fosters inclusive societies, the Rice Business GFE program played a small part in helping people around the world reach their full potential.

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About the Global Field Experience program

The GFE is a cornerstone of the Rice Business MBA. It gives students a chance to apply their classroom knowledge to real-world challenges in a global setting. Over the course of a semester, small student teams are matched with clients to develop strategic solutions to complex issues. The GFE culminates in a one-week trip abroad, where students present their final project recommendations to the client in person.

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