McDonough School of Business
News Story

First Global Business Experience for Master of Science in Finance Students

In June, students in the Georgetown McDonough Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, for their Global Business Experience (GBE), marking the first GBE for the program. During the trip, the students shared seven presentations to clients including Barclays Africa, Coca Cola, and Cummins Inc.

Allan Eberhart, director of the MSF program and professor of finance, shared his thoughts on the week-long trip:

Why was it important for the MSF program to have a global component?

Our MSF program trains students to become global leaders by mastering material in finance, as well as in accounting, econometrics, and decision support systems.  Mastering these subjects empowers our students to think at a higher strategic level because they can quickly understand the core technical issues that underlie virtually any business issue anywhere in the world. This strategic thinking in an ethical context is honed in our Principled Financial Leadership course. It made perfect sense for our students to apply their skills to an actual consulting project for a global firm.

Why did you choose South Africa?

South Africa can be considered a gateway to Africa, a continent advancing much more rapidly than many realize and yet still brimming with potential.  We went to Johannesburg because it is home to an impressive array of international companies and because I was struck in my previous visits there with how enthusiastic these firms were to work with Georgetown students. 

What reaction did you receive from students?

They were excited.  To my knowledge, none of them had been there and so they were anxious to learn about the history of the country and its political and business climate. They truly enjoyed working with the clients, the wonderful weather during their visit, and learning about the country in a way that you can only do by going there.  Many of them then stayed on afterwards to go on safari and visit other parts of the country and the continent.

What was the highlight of the experience for you?

Watching the student presentations to their client firms was the highlight of the trip for me.  I watched six of the seven presentations, and they were all very strong, some of them breathtakingly good. I know that the clients felt the same way based on the reviews and comments they shared with me. Our students uncovered fundamental problems that our clients were unaware of and developed models to solve these problems, which I know the clients are now using. We also had some projects that may lead the clients to make some strategic changes to their business models.