When MBA alumnus Louisa Hinchen returned from Griffith University’s Asia-Pacific Study Tour, she knew she’d just experienced something that would change the way she did business.
The Chief Operating Officer at industry-leading recruitment agency Hallis says gaining a hands-on understanding of how business is done in a cross-cultural landscape helped her to realise the potential in securing additional business for her company.
“The Study Tour in South Korea gave me a much broader focus on where I wanted to do business and who I wanted to do business with,” she explains. “Now my focus is on actively seeking out global and local organisations who are either currently trading globally or interested in expanding their business offshore.”
And she found the trip so valuable, she was determined to come back and be a vocal ambassador.
“Travelling as a tourist is one thing, but travelling as part of an MBA group opened the doors for us,” she says. Louisa says during the Griffith Business School-led tour, she had the opportunity to visit high-profile employers in the region and gain business insights that wouldn’t be available to regular tourists.
“To be able to explore different organisations’ strategies through Q&A opportunities further enhanced the learnings and our understanding of how companies do business in this region, and often highlighted the impact cultural variances have on decision making,” she says.
She was prompted to look into international experiences after one of her electives captured her imagination. “I studied cultural variances in a cross-cultural management course as an MBA elective and was fascinated with the learning,” Louisa says. “Recognising and understanding cultural bias in a classroom situation was great, but physically being able to explore another culture and how to do business in that region was a very different and beneficial learning experience.”
The study tour involved both workplace and classroom learning, and gave participants the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the local cultures by spending a night with monks in a temple, visiting a demilitarised zone, and learning cultural etiquette through hosted dining experiences.
“There was a great balance of in-classroom time with experiential learning such as corporate introductions and tours,” Louisa says. She emphasises that the trip has assisted her greatly in her own career. “This experience cemented for me the importance of taking into consideration cultural biases in not only the sourcing and attraction process of recruitment, but ensuring clients also understand the differences, in order to maximise their opportunity for success.
“Knowing how to do business in a country enables an organisation to know how to open doors internationally.
“The learnings from this tour provided me with firsthand knowledge and examples to share with clients, of the many factors that should be considered when seeking to do business in another country,” she continues. “Educating my clients on cultural variances has often underpinned my partnerships, enabling me to add value to not just the sourcing of talent but also their successful integration, supporting longer-term engagement.”
Now she’s seen the benefits of international experience firsthand, Louisa is keen to be a vocal ambassador for the tour and similar opportunities at Griffith. “I see it as part of my role in mentoring candidates to ensure they are looking at the right study options to enhance their careers.
“Providing the opportunity to study abroad in this global workforce I believe adds great value to the Griffith MBA and therefore its students.
“For me, undertaking the Study Tour subject was so rewarding; it was an ideal way to consolidate the learnings of my MBA studies and apply it in a ‘real life’ experience.”