Darden Launches New Global Business Experiences


How has Starbucks achieved success in China, where locals have been drinking tea for 2,000 years?

This week, over 30 Darden School of Business students will travel to China as part of the Global Business Experience program. The students will tour the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall and Shanghai’s Old Town, and they will also be asked by faculty leader Peter Yu, a native of Shanghai and associate dean of students at the University of Virginia, to analyze China’s booming auto market, its highly competitivBahrain_Pyramids1(1).jpge cell phone market and the rapid expansion of Starbucks.

GBEs are one to two week courses that take place in countries around the world each spring. This year, Darden students will travel at mid-term break to Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, India, Mexico, Spain and Sweden, and – for the first time – to Egypt and then to Israel in May. The courses highlight how to do business in each country and introduce students to both cultural and business protocol through classes at partner schools, company visits and meetings with prominent political and business leaders.  


 “We view GBEs as exceptional learning experiences that help students understand the world’s economic, political and cultural environments,” says Peter Rodriguez, Darden’s associate dean for international affairs and director of the Tayloe Murphy Center International. “The students bring their experiences back to the classrooms, where they enrich the learning of all Darden students and help shape them into tomorrow’s global business leaders.”

Darden Professor Andrew C. Wicks, director of the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, will lead the new GBE to Egypt. Wicks has collaborated with Moustapha Sarhank, a fellow of both the Olsson Center and Tayloe Murphy International, to plan the trip, which will include a visit to the Valley Temple housing the mysterious Sphinx; the Khan el Khalili Bazaar, reputed to be the Middle East’s largest; and a camp dinner in the desert to experience the culture of the nomadic tribe of the Red Sea and Sinai Peninsula, the Bedouins.

“I look forward to bringing Darden to my part of the world: Egypt,” says Sarhank, who is Honorary Chairman of the Sarhank Group for Investments, a regional holding company with dual headquarters in Egypt and Geneva.

Also new this year is a 10-day GBE to Israel in May, led by Professor Gal Raz, who teaches operations and supply chain management at Darden. “What’s unique about this GBE is its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in Israel,” said Raz. “The students will work on an actual project to develop a business plan to bring a product to the U.S. market.” 

In addition to touring Jerusalem’s Old City and the Israeli Parliament, the students will meet with Israeli government officials (including a planned meeting with Israel’s finance minister) and will head north to visit some of Israel’s high-tech headquarters, including the company ISCAR, purchased by Warren Buffet as his first major acquisition outside of the U.S. in 2006 for $6 billion. The students will also head south to view sustainability projects such as a solar power plant and Netafim Inc., the world’s largest water drip irrigation manufacturer.

“The GBEs are an important component of Darden’s full-time MBA program. While Darden is justifiably proud of its superb teaching, experiential learning can also play an important role in understanding how business is conducted in different cultures,” says Rodriguez. “Many of the GBEs bring together Darden students with their counterparts from local partner schools both in classroom and social activities. These interactions provide the foundation for personal friendships as well as future business opportunities.”  

Founded in 1954, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business improves society by developing principled leaders in the world of practical affairs.

For questions or information, contact communication@darden.virginia.edu

top of page