In July, 26 MBA students traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel, for their Global Business Experience (GBE). During the trip, students shared their consulting findings with executives from companies such as Microsoft, Freesbee, and EasySend.
A team of four students consulted for Souktel, a company based in Palestine that designs and builds software solutions for big-data analytics in frontier markets. Souktel’s Chief Operating Officer, Joyce Utz, is a member of the Global Business Initiative board.
Margaret Boatner (MBA’20), Jayme Cloninger (MBA’20), Jeff Flis (MBA’20), and Kristen Pyke (MBA’20) worked on a project that analyzed the company’s new B2B product.
We spoke to Kristen Pyke to hear about the group’s consulting experience highlights.
Why did you want to work on a consulting project for Souktel?
My team was drawn to the mission of Souktel, a tech firm that uses the power of technology to bring effective solutions to the international development community. Most of us are somehow linked to nonprofit and development industries, and therefore we were excited to use our past professional experience to help Souktel while also being stretched in new ways.
How did traveling to the Middle East contribute to the project deliverable?
A major highlight of our trip was being able to experience firsthand the nuances of the Israeli and Palestinian relationship. Not only is this topic deeply personal to people on both sides of the border, but also it is extremely relevant to understand when operating in today’s geopolitical context. Additionally, it was an incredibly humbling experience to work on a project that not only has a social impact for the end users of Souktel, but also the Souktel staff and investors. Souktel is an example of how business can be used to foster collaboration and community engagement in Palestine by developing tech talent and incentivizing partnerships that extend beyond their borders.
What have been your biggest takeaways from working with your client?
We were extremely lucky to have joined the Souktel team at a very critical point in its history. Souktel had just begun to brainstorm a shift in vision when we first started. Therefore, we experienced what it was like to refine product ideas and pitch potential business plans to investors in a very tight timeframe. We believe this professional experience will serve us well in the future. Also, we learned about the power of tech startups to overcome economic hurdles and to create a workforce that has a global reach.
What was the biggest takeaway of the overall consulting course in Israel?
The Tel Aviv GBE trip is a unique experience because of the dynamic context of the region. We were able not only to learn about this thriving new tech market in modern day Israel and Palestine, but also to visit and live temporarily through the history of what makes this market so dynamic. It reinforced for us the importance of embracing an honest understanding of the layers and complexity of the culture and people who make up your target market.
On the course impact on your career
Apart from the practical application of learning the mechanics behind technology platforms, we learned the art of holding ambiguity and clarity in tension, a skill that is required when working in a startup environment. Whether we go on to start our own business one day or innovate within our company, this skill will help us tremendously moving forward.
Besides Tel Aviv, this year GBE Evening MBA students consulted for organizations in Hong Kong, Lima, and Madrid.
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