McDonough School of Business
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Vivien Koester (MiM’22) on Leveraging Knowledge and Cultural Backgrounds to Deliver Business Strategies

The McDonough School of Business’s flagship Global Business Experience (GBE) allows students in the Master’s in Management program (MiM) the opportunity to work on a real-world consulting project for an international organization. At the start of the course, students begin their work on campus to learn about the company’s goals and strategy as well as the broader global issues affecting the business, followed by an immersive experience abroad to meet their clients and deliver in-person recommendations on-location in countries across the globe. 

Georgetown MiM students recently traveled to Singapore as part of their global consulting project to meet with top industry leaders in the second-highest country on the global competitiveness index scale.

We spoke with Vivien Koester (MiM’22) about her experience traveling to Singapore to work with Jakarta Smart Port as they responded to global challenges in the container terminal business industry and identified new opportunities to make the company more sustainable and profitable.

Can you tell us more about your consulting project with Jakarta Smart Port?

In collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Smart Cities  Network, we discussed opportunities to improve mobility and logistics in Indonesia. Considering Indonesia has 1,700 ports overall, we saw an opportunity to facilitate a faster movement of products to meet the demand for rapidly advancing e-commerce and same-day deliveries. On an economic level, smart ports would decrease prices of commodity goods, create employment opportunities, and enhance Indonesia’s market competitiveness. Research from Jakarta Globe showed that reducing logistics costs in Indonesia by 16% would save Indonesia $70 to $80 billion a year.

How did traveling to Singapore contribute to the project deliverable?

Traveling to Singapore gave us the opportunity to gain an understanding of social, environmental, and technological conditions and meet with the key stakeholders of the project. During the Smart City conferences, we had the unique opportunity to meet ASEAN-grown tech startups which showed us the existing breadth of technology in the Asian market. Moreover, conversations with engineers and government officials gave us a further understanding as to which implementations are feasible and which factors matter most to the citizens.

What were your biggest takeaways from working with your client? 

My biggest takeaway from working with Jakarta Smart Port was how conversations with people of different knowledge and cultural backgrounds can lead to flashes of inspiration that take an idea to the next level. Gaining new knowledge during these conferences gave us an opportunity to refine our project and align our project goal with Indonesia’s local needs.

What was your favorite moment from your trip abroad?

The most captivating moment of the trip was the presentation we gave at the Indonesian Embassy. In this moment, I understood what potential impact our idea could have on the economic development of Southeast Asia in the long term.

 What was the final outcome of your consulting project?

Our final recommendation was to start with a pilot smart port at Jakarta’s port, Tanjung Priok. The implementation would result in a reduction of congestion in Jakarta and a spread of shipping and receiving capabilities to other cities. We recommended focusing on a digital transformation rather than automation as digital transformations have a higher return on investment, are lower in cost, and require a shorter timescale. Our two priority areas focused on landside logistics and transportation, as Jakarta’s port is lacking road connectivity, as well as on the management of the port to reduce port dwell times.

How did the trip enhance your understanding of global perspectives in business? 

The trip showed how important it is to be exposed to different cultures and people of different knowledge backgrounds to drive new ideas. Developing projects in collaboration with international stakeholders provides the opportunity to leverage different scientific states and business perspectives. Going back to my key takeaway, the ability to discuss ideas in internationally composed groups can lead to flashes of inspiration that can take an idea to the next level.

How did your Global Business Experience course impact your broader career goals? 

The GBE project gave me an opportunity to gain firsthand experiences developing a meaningful strategy to drive a country’s economic improvement and establish a network of people in Southeast Asia. Working for an international management consulting firm, I am now able to leverage my learnings from the GBE project and contribute my insights to the team I am currently working with. The GBE trip inspired me to participate in an office rotation program with Singapore to learn more about Asian business opportunities.

M.S. in Management