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After completing the winter quarter of my first year here at Kellogg, I embarked on a two-week journey to Southeast Asia with 29 of my classmates in the Global Initiatives in Management program (GIM) for spring break 2011. One of the requirements for graduation is completing a global elective requirement. This requirement can be met by taking a course such as cross-cultural negotiation, international finance, international marketing or international business strategy. One of the more popular courses to fulfill this requirement is the GIM program. Global Initiatives in Management is an intensive global business leadership program founded and designed by Kellogg students. Teams of classmates plan and facilitate a challenging 10-week curriculum with a faculty adviser, and coordinate a two-week international field experience at the end of the term. Once in their target country or region, the students meet with business and government leaders and conduct primary research for their final presentations and reports. This year, trips for GIM include Brazil, India, China, Southeast Asia, Global Health Initiatives in Kenya, Middle East and Japan. Sadly, the Japan trip was cancelled at the last minute due to the recent earthquake and tsunami there.

For GIM Southeast Asia, the trip that I went on, we visited Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Bali and Jakarta in Indonesia and Singapore. There were 29 Kellogg students first years and 1Ys, a joint venture and our faculty advisor. The topics for group research projects ranged from venture capital, start-ups, tourism, consumer packaged goods, corporate social responsibility, the beer industry etc. We were hosted by many big name firms in the region such as The Nielson Company in Vietnam, Principia Capital Management and Astra International in Jakarta and Temasek Holdings in Singapore. For my group project, my partner and I are looking at advertising and promotions by multi-national consumer packaged goods companies and how cultural differences and social values play into their marketing strategies. We had individual group meetings with brand managers from Pepsi and Unilever in these countries. For fun, we visited the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam, took a boat cruise down the Mekong River there, spent the first weekend in Bali, lounging around on the beach, playing beach volleyball, and checking out the monkey forest. We had an alumni networking event in Jakarta where many of our Kellogg alums in Indonesia came out to chat with us. We also did some Asian-style karaoke until the wee hours of the morning. In Singapore, we checked out the new casino resorts that opened there recently, went to rooftop bars to check out the view of the city-state and ate delicious street food in hawker centers. This GIM trip was definitely educational and fun for all of us that went on it. Now it is on to the spring quarter to wrap up my first year at Kellogg!