You can learn a lot about business from a textbook, but sometimes, to really learn the lesson, you have to hear it from the people who lived it.
An MBA can be a great way to achieve this—after all, few venues play host to as many top business leaders as the halls of a business school.
At Bath School of Management, students are often given such opportunities. They are treated to lectures from the likes of David Osborne, Dyson’s global director of digital, and Sir Peter Hendy, the chairman of Network Rail, as well as visits to companies like Jaguar Land Rover and Amazon.
But it’s not just UK industry that they get to explore.
In 2018, Bath MBAs visited Silicon Valley as part of the school’s Global Residency program, where they toured companies like Google, Dropbox, and Wells Fargo to hear about new developments across industries.
Experiencing the pace of innovation
“It was a fantastic experience,” enthuses Siddhant Bansal, a student who participated in the 2018 Global Residency.
Siddhant joined the MBA after working for his family business for a number of years, exporting textiles from his homeland of India to Europe and the USA. Just before joining the program, he even set up his own firm to trade domestically and was running this alongside his studies.
As a small business owner stepping into the big leagues of Silicon Valley, Siddhant was immediately impressed by the scale and pace of the business innovation going on around him—particularly in the tech space.
The class started the week with a tour of the Google Campus, where they got briefed on what’s new at Google, engaged in a Q&A session with Google staff, and even got an insight into the company’s plans for the future.
From Google, it was on to Dropbox to learn about supply chain management, before being blown away by tech demonstrations at AKQA and Wells Fargo’s on-site innovation hub.
At Wells Fargo, Siddhant reports seeing a demonstration of a headpiece that uses neurotechnology to help users remember a forgotten password.
He chuckles remembering it—“It was very fascinating!”
“Different companies, the same attitude”
This all seems like a far cry from a family-run textiles firm on the other side of the world.
“Since I was coming from a family business background, it was quite different to what I have experienced back home,” Siddhant admits.
However, there were several key lessons that he learned that he has brought back to his family firm.
“You get to pick up on some of the nitty-gritty differences [between cultures], develop yourself, and bring some of that back,” he says.
“The MBA opened up my world a little bit—it helped my development a lot.”
The other key lesson Siddhant is bringing home is a more motivational one, about the long arc of progress towards business success.
Although Silicon Valley is now known as one of the technology capitals of the world, many of its biggest players came from very humble beginnings—Facebook, famously, was the product of three friends putting their heads together in a college dorm room.
To Siddhant, seeing how these companies have grown offered a spark of hope.
“The most valuable thing I learned was that you should have patience,” he says. “Everything will work out, but you have to keep working for it—figure out a solution rather than just brooding over the problem, and if you can’t do it yourself, seek help.
“We met many different companies and they all had this same attitude.”
Whether you’re dealing with fintech or fabric, then, a trip to Silicon Valley can offer important lessons about success.
Getting to experience this first-hand with the MBA at Bath School of Management not only allowed Siddhant to put his business learning into context, but to broaden his personal horizons.