Executive Master of Organization Development Students Travel Overseas to Immerse in French Culture

Going beyond the traditional classroom is part of the educational model BGSU provides business students to successfully prepare them for the global economy. When working with international organizations, understanding cultural differences is a key element of success.

In order to provide our Executive Master of Organization Development (EMOD) students with this perspective, students enroll in ORGD 6065, Exploring International Organization Development. However, students don’t just sit in a classroom and listen to lectures. They jump on a plane and jet across the ocean for an intensive, one-week international field study tour to immerse themselves in other cultures and to gain valuable insights.

This spring, the EMOD Class of 2016 traveled to France and visited the cities of Nantes and Paris.  While there, the BGSU cohort participated in interactive lectures, networked with French executive MBA students, and visited with local companies and organizations.  Dr. Deborah A. O’Neil, director of BGSU’s Master of Organization Development program and management department associate professor, led the educational experience.

Presentations were facilitated by world-class faculty from AUDENCIA Nantes. They covered key topics, such as corporate social responsibility, leadership development, and ethical leadership, all while providing an important European perspective.

“The value of being immersed in the French culture and learning about organization development practices in businesses, non-profit organizations, and communities in Europe cannot be overstated,” according to Dr. O’Neil.

As in the past, the cohort of executive graduate students were impressed with what they saw and learned from this unique experience. Here are a few comments from EMOD students with  their company affiliations.

 “My experience with this trip, our cohort, the classes we took with Audencia, and the business visit have left me forever changed both personally and professionally. I can’t thank this program enough for the incredible opportunity we have been given through this class. Not only have I grown in my understanding of OD, intercultural relations, and business, but I have grown as an individual, a team player, and in my exposures to the world.”

Kimberly Forren, Advisor, Aly Sterling Philanthropy

 “Through the experience, along with my personal vacation in Europe that followed, I learned insights about myself that will better position me for a career in organization development, and I had the opportunity to connect the principles and methods I have learned in the Master of Organization Development program thus far with real life examples and applications.”

Sarah West, Human Capital Specialist, Welltower

“Before and during the trip, I was constantly stretching my comfort zone, and my post-trip life will continue to expand those boundaries. The adventures in France will not soon be forgotten, and I am appreciative of the experience made available through the EMOD program.”

Anna Lynott, Senior Consultant, Resource Recycling Systems

In addition to class sessions, the students visited five organizations to gain an understanding of the cultural differences and how businesses operate in France.  One of the visits was to 10-Vins, a start-up company located in Nantes, which was hosted by Mr. Jérôme Pasquet, co-founder of 10-Vins.  This French company was started by three friends who all share a passion for wine.  The founders saw an opportunity in the market for wine by-the-glass and launched the startup.

Mr. Pasquet shared with the students the entrepreneurial process the founders went through to create the company and how it has progressed.

The students also had the opportunity to visit with GE-Alstom, hosted by Ms. Agnes Bensoussan, HR & cultural integration leader.  In November 2015, GE finalized a $10 billion purchase of the French turbine maker Alstom.  One of the biggest challenges of any merger or acquisition is cultural integration, and with two companies as big as GE and Alstom, the challenge can be overwhelming.  Ms. Bensoussan shared with the students the cultural integration process which included a detailed roadmap that described the goals, action steps, and timelines for integrating the systems and their cultures.

The students visited the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) whose mission is to promote policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.  During this session the students learned about the value of conducting evidence-based research to form global policy discussions.

Tom Daniels, assistant director of the BGSU Graduate and Executive Programs in Business, commented on the value of the international trip. “This experience really adds a tremendous value to the EMOD program.  We are working and living in a global environment. The topics covered in the lectures and the company visits were extremely relevant to our EMOD students.”

Before returning to the U.S., the students participated in a scavenger hunt at the famous Le Louvre Museum where they were joined by Christelle Dhugues, a 1999 graduate of the EMOD program, currently living in Paris. They also enjoyed a farewell dinner cruise on the Seine River before departing.

The MOD program at BGSU was founded over 40 years ago as one of the first master’s degree programs of its kind in the U.S. It maintains recognition as one of the most prestigious organization development graduate programs in the world.

To learn more about the Master of Organization Development program, please contact the Office of Graduate and Executive Programs in Business at mod@bgsu.edu.