EMBA Celebrating 40 Years with International Flavor

Nov 28, 2018

While residencies can be prevalent in graduate school, Xavier’s Executive MBA program takes the experience to a whole new level — or in this case, to whole new locales.

This year’s destinations were Bangkok and Singapore.

Now in its 40th year, one of the hallmarks of the Executive MBA program has always been an International Residency, included in the cost of tuition.

“It’s hard to be at a high level in an organization and not understand the importance of a global perspective,” says Tom Hayes, Dean of the Williams College of Business.

And there’s a lot more to the trips than just updating passports and packing appropriately. The students do immense research beforehand about each locale, on everything from its political history to cultural landmarks.

For Brooke Hiltz, newly-appointed director of the program, it was also her immersion into the Executive MBA cohort model. A new class begins each year in the fall, and the students stay together throughout the entire 16-month program, taking all of their classes and traveling together.

“The cohort is what alumni rave about from the program,” she says. “They learn so much in the classroom, but then also from the people around them who are bringing unique experiences and backgrounds.”

In true team spirit, each Executive MBA cohort even decides on its International Residency destination. Amanda Stanken, a manager with the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Network, whose earlier career with Toyota had taken her to Japan, found the choice interesting.

“Even though I’m not currently working in an international organization, things are done so differently around the world; we need to understand other cultures and people. It’s always beneficial to expand your knowledge,” she says.

Supplying a seasoned perspective to the student mix was Rick Arquilla, President and Chief Operating Officer of Cincinnati-based Roto-Rooter. The prospect of the trip had real business implications for someone who runs the largest domestic plumbing service in North America.

“I went into this thinking, ‘How different can the international space be from domestic?’” he says.

Arquilla and Stanken agreed they were surprised by the common humanity that links us all as global citizens.

They visited a variety of businesses, ranging from a fast-growing, family-owned textile business in Bangkok to a global hotel and retail group in Singapore. Also included was a meeting with Xavier MBA alumni, Kevin Sanker (’10), currently living in Singapore and working as an Economist with the Institute of International Finance.  

For the students, however, the most personal aspect of the trip was not just what they learned about other countries, but about themselves.

Through reflection, a uniquely Jesuit-insipired value, students share their insights and discoveries with each other. For Hayes, it’s one of his favorite moments.

“I always find it interesting how others take in things for the first time,” he says. “One of the best parts of any trip is how the students share their insights and discoveries with each other. At the end of the day, we reflect back on how cultures are different or similar. What can we learn from it? I think it makes the trip a more intentional process.”

Arquilla says his favorite souvenir is a fresh perspective on his own worldview.

“I came back from this trip very humble about how to do business internationally,” he says. “How do you think globally as a citizen, as a consumer? How do you view the U.S. in a global landscape?”

And he, and the rest of his fellow world-travelers, have the Xavier Executive MBA program to thank.  

“The university got inside my head,” he says, “and got me to think about things that just weren’t on the radar screen before the trip.”


An International Residency is just one reason why U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Xavier’s Executive MBA as one of the top 20 programs in the country. Learn more here.

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