Beyond the MBA

Study Abroad Experiences Frame Life-long Principles

Steve Winckler city
Steve Winckler, ’16 Executive MBA.

Steve Winckler, a recent graduate of the online Executive MBA program, believes his study abroad experience in Asia not only strengthened his global business skills but also provided a lens through which to assess his own principles.

While in China and Vietnam, he observed people sweeping with a bundle of branches, not for lack of a proper broom, but because it worked and was sufficient for their needs.

“In our leadership class, we learned about Daoism principles and how Daoist leaders focus on goals and not the process to obtain them. Watching these individuals gave me a new appreciation for not worrying so much about the ‘how’ and to focus more on outcomes,” he says. “The simple examples seen during the trip helped illustrate these concepts and has become a focus I employ more consciously in my professional environment.”

International experience brings MBA education to life

Without the distraction of constant connectivity in his normal life, Winckler found it easy to absorb and notice everything—the sites, the people, and social interaction.

“The trip definitely brought my WSU MBA education to life,” he says. “I can confidently say I gained a deeper appreciation for the cultures of China and Vietnam through our visit than I ever could have by reading or through class work alone.”

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Steve Winckler on the Great Wall of China.

In addition, the common experiences and connection with fellow students, combined with being thousands of miles from home and out of his element, led him to create lasting friendships.

Looking back on his trip, Winckler says while it is difficult to isolate the most impactful experience, the hospitality of the class’s hosts and the efficiency of the production of the Lien ‘A factory in Vietnam were very impressive. He had the opportunity to observe methodologies he had learned in the online EMBA operations management class being executed in real time during the tour of Lien ‘A, a family owned, rural, renewable energy facility that produces natural latex products.

Climbing the iconic Great Wall, riding the high speed bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai, and navigating the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh became fodder for much storytelling and reminiscing about his adventures.

“Our time abroad in China and Vietnam helped me better understand foreign markets and become more aware of cultural differences, but at the same time revealed to me how underneath, we all have the same good intent. The often maligned cultural and overseas manufacturing typically hyped by western media just aren’t experienced first-hand,” Winckler says. “The experiences and friendships I gained are something bigger than my EMBA degree.”