Jill Avery is a Senior Lecturer in the Marketing unit and Randy Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in the Finance unit. Both are currently teaching FIELD Global Immersion this year. Jill will be traveling to Helsinki, Finland and Randy will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

WHAT INTERESTS YOU MOST ABOUT BUSINESS IN YOUR FGI COUNTRY?

JILL: As an American who has never lived abroad, I love the opportunity to enhance my global intelligence by traveling to different countries during FGI. This year will be my fourth year teaching the course and I have traveled to Malaysia, Morocco, and Turkey thus far. Finland caught my eye this year because I have never visited any of the Nordic countries. As I researched its business environment, I became intrigued by Finland’s universal basic income test and its impact on companies and their consumers. I am also a huge fan of mid-century modernism and the Scandinavian design movement, so I am looking forward to doing case research with leading design house Marimekko while I am in Helsinki.

RANDY: I am fascinated by the question of when solutions that are effective in the US translate to other markets, and when they don't. It's easy as an American to fall into the mode of thinking "we figured out the best practices in this area, now let's go share them with the world!" And here's the thing: sometimes that opportunity really does exist, and there is real benefit to be created by taking a great idea global.  But other times, there are very good reasons things are done differently elsewhere, and by experiencing those situations we can open our minds and discover better ways to attack problems, in the U.S. and around the world.

WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT TRAVELING WITH MBA STUDENTS?

JILL: The FGI introduces a different dimension into my relationships with students. Traveling together serves as a natural bonding experience, so I find that I connect with my FGI students more closely. It is also incredibly exciting to see what HBS students can achieve once they are unleashed from the classroom. Watching them complete their work for their Global Partners is awe-inspiring.

RANDY: The obvious answer is that the energy and enthusiasm of the students is so contagious. That answer has the tremendous benefit of being 100% true, but the disadvantage of being a little boring. So here's something else: story value.  The great thing about traveling with a group of MBA students is that lots of interesting things will happen to them, and while some of these stories no doubt will never be shared with me, I'm hoping a great many will.  And collecting great stories is one of my biggest joys in life.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT?

JILL: My FGI program managers!  The HBS staff people who have accompanied me on the Immersion trips in the past three years have been an amazing support team for me and for the FGI students. They are professional, proactive, and resourceful and make my job as a faculty member much less stressful. I also can’t travel without my iPad (and a universal plug adapter) because I need to FaceTime my two children and husband every day while I am away.

RANDY: My glacier glasses.  In addition to being legally blind, I have eyes that are extremely light-sensitive.  So I can't go outside, even on cloudy days, without my ultra-dark sunglasses with side panels.  I always worry that some folks might think I'm trying -- and failing! -- to look cool.  But it's purely medical, I assure you!

WHAT THREE WORDS DESCRIBE YOU AS A TRAVELER?

JILL: (1) Curious, (2) Optimistic, and (3) Hungry!

RANDY: Because I can't see much of anything, I don't travel for sights -- I travel to spend time with people and learn from them.  I'll go with nouns over adjectives and say:

(1) Curiosity, (2) Learning, (3) Friendship

ANY ADVICE FOR THE RC STUDENTS YOU WILL BE TRAVELING WITH THIS MAY?

JILL: Take full advantage of this incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar setting. Test your global intelligence and your leadership skills to see where the cracks are.  And, spend as much time out on the street with consumers or with your Global Partner and as little time in your hotel room as you can.

RANDY:  I was talking to a colleague who grew up in Buenos Aires, and he was explaining the schedule there, in which restaurants open at 9PM for dinner, then folks have a long meal, and then they go out to enjoy the nightlife... but nevertheless work starts at 8 or 9 AM there just like it does elsewhere, and there is no siesta.  He says they just don't sleep very much!  So my advice to the students who'll be joining me in BA is, try to get caught up on your sleep before the trip begins.