Since I was a Classics major in undergrad and took classes like Science & Technology in Ancient Egypt, admittedly I am most excited to geek out on all the cool historical sites there are to see on the trip.
However, what I think will be especially interesting is to see how this ancient world melds together with modern Egypt, a business hub in the Middle East and key player in the Arab world. While the history is fascinating, all that is in the past. It will be exciting to see how the people of Egypt are paving their way for the future!
This GIP (Global Immersion Program) will be my first trip to the African continent and third trip to an Arab country – the other two were to the UAE, so quite different. I am excited to see how African and Middle Eastern culture blend together, both in and outside of the office.
Because GIPs include a half-semester course prior to travel, we have been given some time to learn about the country through some great lectures organized by our professor, Marco Viola. We had guest speakers with first-hand experience doing business in the country. We’ve also had the opportunity to work in small groups on various consulting projects for start-ups taking part in the American University of Cairo accelerator program.
I cannot wait to meet my start-up, Esorus. It is a female-founded company headed up by Dalia Laz, a former architect. The company is developing an online platform to connect furniture and fixtures manufacturers with interior designers, contractors, and FF&E buyers. In Egypt, I understand that personal relationships and face-to-face contact are very important in business. So, I think our project will be further enhanced by this incredible opportunity we are having to travel to the market and meet our Egyptian teams!
I was also very excited to hear that our company visits will be a mixture of industries as well as a mixture of corporate offices and facilities/factory visits. We will even be visiting the Egyptian Refinery Company, one of the companies from our case readings. I look forward to the amazing agenda planned!
Victoria Harman is a 2020 MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School.