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The Rice MBA Global Field Experience (GFE): Four Students Share Insights

by Mohammad Khan, Assistant Director, Global Programs & Experiential Learning

Jerrica Givens and other students in Lima, Peru
Rice Business students and faculty in Lima, Peru during the Global Field Experience

At Rice Business, global programming takes MBA students beyond the conventional domains of business. Through immersive cultural experiences, students push boundaries and reshape perspectives to make a meaningful cross-cultural impact. Our Global Field Experience (GFE) is an integral part of the degree curriculum. Culminating in an on-site client presentation, the GFE gives students an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge in international settings.

This practical application fosters resilience, adaptability and the capacity to drive innovation in diverse contexts. Don’t take our word for it — listen to our students’ firsthand accounts. In the following Q&As, some of them speak candidly about how the GFE equipped them with the skills to lead and innovate on a global scale.

What makes the GFE special?

Jerrica Givens (Peru)

Jerrica Givens in Lima, Peru
Jerrica Givens in Lima, Peru

The GFE isn't just a program. It’s not a typical MBA experience. It's a wild ride that brings learning to life and forges lifelong friendships. The GFE is a hands-on adventure where we get to roll up our sleeves and apply the skills we've been honing in the classroom to real-world client projects. For me, the real magic happens in those unplanned moments.

The language barrier? Turns out, it's not a hurdle but a secret ingredient to forming tight bonds with my classmates. And when we weren't hustling on client work, we were making memories and discovering the hidden talents of each other through conversations held at morning breakfast or while exploring the local markets!

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How did the GFE contribute to your development as a future business leader? 

Ana Mancera (Chile)

Ana Mancera and other students in Santiago, Chile
Ana Mancera and two other students in Santiago, Chile

The GFE has been transformative in shaping my MBA skillset. It provided a real-world platform to apply classroom knowledge to solve practical business challenges. What made the experience even more impactful was realizing our GFE professor (Prof. Haiyang Li) had taught us strategy during our first week of orientation in year one. It felt like our classroom experience came full circle.

The continuity allowed us to apply strategic frameworks and concepts learned in class to the challenges our client faced. This hands-on experience reinforced my classroom learning, bridged the theory-practice gap, and solidified my ability to navigate complex business scenarios.

Jonathan Hines with classmates during the GFE
Jonathan Hines and other students in Colombia

What surprised you most about the GFE? 

Jonathan Hines (Colombia)

Before traveling to Colombia, I doubted that first-year MBA students could offer valuable analysis to a growing business expanding internationally, since we had not finished our core courses. However, once there, I was amazed by how much I had learned and integrated throughout the program.

We get so focused on upcoming homework that we fail to reflect on our progress. Creating the final strategy made me realize how much knowledge I had retained. This realization was the most surprising and rewarding part of the experience.

What did you learn about yourself throughout the GFE?

Zvi Selevan (Chile)

Although Zvi was unable to travel for the on-site component, the course and its objectives were still extremely impactful. 

It was really cool to take a startup from needing help with approaching their market to having a full go-to-market strategy. We got a chance to dive into many different areas of the business world, including competitive analysis, branding, social media marketing, as well as project and KPI development. Great bonding experience with teammates as well. 

I grew so much as a leader. During the GFE, you need to step up to the plate and do things while remaining calm in front of the client, even if you’re still figuring out what to do. I also learned I like marketing more than I thought, as I've always been more interested in data analysis than psychology. But I really enjoyed the process and learned more about how to connect to people's emotions, which is always an important skill. 

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