At the end of July, I was fortunate enough to take Hult’s Corporate Diplomacy and Managing Geopolitical Risk course in San Francisco, with the inspiring Cari Guittard.

The chance to take this class was the main reason I chose to come back to San Francisco after my Asian traveling adventure. And I am so, SO glad I did. Not only was I truly inspired by the passionate people around me, but in the current political and social climate we live in globally, I think it’s vitally important to discuss world issues head on and form opinions about the things that really matter.

The goals of the class:

  • Gain a foundational knowledge of corporate diplomacy and the processes, frameworks, and landscapes by which we operate
  • Form an understanding of the political risk landscape and how people can and should operate in these ever-changing times
  • Develop a global-leadership toolkit for how we can best use our influence to create a better world for all

Well, that all sounded a bit daunting. And it was at first! But we were eased into it over the course of the weekend, duly helped by hearing from six (yes, SIX) industry-leading guest speakers from Cari’s network on how to navigate today’s geopolitical climate.

We were also able to debate freely and openly with students from over 30 different countries, all with their own amazing back stories and opinions. It didn’t feel so daunting by the end, and none of us wanted the class to be over.

“We were able to debate freely and openly with students from over 30 different countries. None of us wanted the class to be over.”

Our final day was mainly taken up with both group and individual presentations. The group assignment was to create a Corporate Diplomacy Plan for Facebook in a country chosen by Cari.

Our group was assigned India. We set out to present a plan for how Facebook can become a more trusted partner in India by providing mobile healthcare units. Our idea had two key pillars: a partnership between Oculus and an Indian private healthcare provider to offer VR diagnosis in rural areas. We proposed to utilize this partnership to bring on government support for more healthcare and physical infrastructure in rural India.

We were fortunate enough to receive the prize for the best idea and were awarded a 10lb chocolate bar! It was huge!

Aaron Corporate diplomacy chocolate bar
Thanks, Cari! Chocolate bribery really does work.

As good as this all was, it was not the most inspiring part of the day. Our individual presentations really encapsulated what we all would take away from the class, forcing us to focus on how we can be better global citizens.

Individually, Cari set us the challenge of finding a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that we were passionate about and asked us to present why this was important to us and what we will we do in our careers to help meet it.

 

Some of my classmates  volunteered to share their stories as part of my blog, and I hope you are as inspired by them as I am:

Rohini Robello-D’Souza
Indian/American
MBA Class of 2018

“I am passionate about gender equality (SDG 5) and I have a strong sense of equity. I grew up in a male-dominated country with fiercely feminist parents. In my perfect world, a girl born today would not have to contend with a lack of education, employment discrimination, pay inequity, physical safety concerns, and a lack of representation in leadership.

Therefore, I want to be more involved with:

  • Impact investing that has women as the beneficiaries of the social component
  • Creating alliances with governmental and non-governmental organizations to express my interest and intent in the field of advocacy for gender equality
  • Researching and articulating the fiscal and societal benefits of having gender equality in an organization or country

I will do this going forward by supporting and amplifying the message of entities who are on the right track with their goal of achieving gender equity. Also, I will refine my social capital with a view towards these goals and, most importantly, ‘walk the talk!'”

___

Yoshihito Ono
Japanese
EMBA Class of 2018

“To me, quality education (SDG 4) is something worth living for. The reason for this is quite simple: education can change lives, just as it has for me!

My grandfather lost all his assets just after the WWII, even though he was a family member of the first prime minister of Japan. My mother faced difficulties after her divorce when I was two years old, but fortunately my adoptive father provided us opportunities to study and a comfortable living environment.

I have lots of human networks in Japan, thanks to linkages with some of the top schools as well as a number of politicians, business leaders of listed companies, and investors.

I enjoy my life, my job, and my journey of the Executive MBA at Hult with my amazing cohort from all over the world. I have so much gratitude for those people who have motivated me throughout my life and contributed to the education of the next generation.

Hence, I’d like to change the world positively in the education field, even just a bit, with Hultians and all of my network!”

___

Anna Podolskaya
Russian
MBA Class of 2018

“I would like to focus on economic development (SDG 8), particularly in Russia. One of the main issues in my country is that people do not feel that they need a healthy working environment, or they think that theirs is healthy when it isn’t.

I truly believe that, by improving this, the amount of alcoholism would decrease, which is connected to unsatisfactory work. I would really like to help people not see work as something to do to survive, but as something enjoyable, so they can return happy to their families.

Being at business school in the U.S., I want to gather best practices from working in the West, particularly about the things that make people happy to come to work, and how I can positively influence the working environment. I understand that my impact might not be right now when I am 27, it might be in 10 years time. But I know that I want to learn all that I can here so that I can take it back to my country and truly make a difference.

I also want to change the perception of Russia in the rest of the world. We don’t always have a good name because of political situations. I believe that the government doesn’t have much in common with the general population who are open and friendly. Therefore, it is important for me to bring that good side of Russia into everything I undertake to ensure people get a proper, balanced view.”

___

Melina Luz Baeza
American
MBA Class of 2018

“As the third generation in a family who has dedicated themselves to helping others, I feel it is my privilege and duty to lift up those who do not have the same accessibility as I do. Also, as a woman of color with a lifelong history of Major Depressive Disorder and ADHD, I understand what it is like to be so stifled that you are incapable of helping yourself. I wish to empower those who desperately need the equity they deserve.

Therefore, I am passionate about achieving gender equality (SDG 4) and empowering all women and girls. When women support women, and when we engage earnest men in the conversation about gender equality, we create a space for us to discuss how best to empower women.

However, we have to ensure the corporate male population understands that participating in the conversation and contributing to the gender equality effort truly benefits men and the business itself. I plan to make a concerted effort to always inform others where, how, and who helped me accomplish my achievements, especially amplifying females. We have a responsibility to pull each other up.”

___

Aaron penultimate class
A diverse and inspiring class with professor Cari.

Personal reflection and responsibility

These stories have inspired me and remind me of the positive impact humanity can have on this earth, should we want to.

It is up to me now to be a good global citizen, and focus on my own sustainability goals: innovation (SDG 9), by making incremental or dramatic changes for the good of the world, and partnerships (SDG 17), by ensuring that I find the right alliances and collaborators who have a shared interest in improving the world to ensure things happen.

This class has reminded me of my duty and will certainly be something I encourage others to think about over the coming weeks, months, and years. Political issues aren’t just something that “others” will take care of, and I believe that we should have the courage to discuss, have an open dialogue, and disagree with each other in order to move the world in the right direction together.

 

“I believe that we should have the courage to discuss, have an open dialogue, and disagree with each other in order to move the world in the right direction together.”

 


Be the change you want to see in the world.

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