More and more MBA graduates are part of a global virtual team, working daily with colleagues spread across continents. Such teams present challenges that aren’t addressed in the traditional MBA curriculum, from coordinating work across time zones and resolving cultural misunderstandings to the frustrations of the ubiquitous conference call.
Earlier this year, Yale SOM launched a new core course, Global Virtual Teams, that provides students with hands-on, real-world experience navigating the cultural and technological issues that arise with global teamwork.
Just before the beginning of the spring semester, first-year Yale SOM students spent a week learning what changes when teams become global and virtual, and taking part in exercises that simulated the challenges of virtual teams within Edward P. Evans Hall.
Several weeks later, they linked up with counterparts at two GNAM schools—EGADE Business School in Mexico and HEC Paris in France—to collaborate on a virtual team project, a 24-hour-a-day factory simulation using operations management tools. It was up to the students to organize themselves into effective teams, deciding each team member’s role, when and how often to meet, and even what technologies to use to communicate.
The course was difficult, Jocina Becker ’17 said, and that was the point. “This provided us with a space where we could fail,” she said. “It was about how do we figure it out together. I felt like it was good preparation and I also felt confident that this is all something we’re going to face and we’re well prepared to do so.”