ESMT European School of Management and Technology
MBA Consulting in post-traumatic conflict zones
submitted by Nick Barniville on April 4, 2012
ESMT is committed to developing responsible leaders for a world in transition. As a part of that commitment, ESMT sponsored a consulting project with a NGO (IPSO). Four students elected to consult with IPSO (an international NGO working to relieve trauma in war or disaster-affected areas). Funding for the project was secured by a combination of private donations, contributions from ESMT supporters and sponsored charity events conducted by ESMT staff (including the Berlin marathon ran by the MBA Director).
The project had three main components: one in Afghanistan, one in the NGO head office (Konstanz, Germany) and one in Haiti. While the whole team worked together for the Head Office component, John took the Afghan challenge to improve IPSO’s organizational response to post-war trauma relief. Julia, Michael and Costina took the challenge of coming up with a management plan to tackle post-earthquake trauma relief in Haiti. This project enabled the students to participate in an original and highly challenging learning experience. Not only did they apply the MBA Program concepts, they expanded their horizons beyond the typical bottom-line concerns. What they experienced throughout this project will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The project gave them an incentive to extensively research and discover how NGOs function, as well as contemplate challenges of humanitarian relief work. In Konstanz, they worked with IPSO to explore future development directions for the NGO, with a particular focus on sustainability. They had an enriching team experience and enjoyed the beautiful Konstanz setting.
In Afghanistan, John worked with the local IPSO team to improve organizational efficiency according to client specifications. His work there earned the respect and appreciation of the Afghanistan team. Moreover, this was a powerful personal growth experience, exposing him to a different culture and a country undergoing challenging transformations.
In Haiti, Julia, Costina and Michael had their first developing country experience. The three of them worked on developing a network of partners to support the earthquake trauma relief centers and producing customer-specific management tools. They enjoyed working on a meaningful project in a direct on-site experience. They met local partners and had valuable insights regarding Haiti life and culture. Also, they worked with Caritas to gain insights into the challenges of an international NGO, particularly organizational structure and culture and donor management. Beyond the project deliverables, they were amazed to discover the people and their strong faith and optimism despite extreme living conditions, disease and corruption.
With this opportunity, they were able to participate in one of the most challenging learning experiences of their lives. They are proud to have provided value to IPSO and be a small part of something so big. More importantly, they are now different people. The experience touched them on so many levels and opened their eyes to challenges they had not foreseen, but also to solutions they had not considered.
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