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Blogs · Shania Kalpee, MSc ’24 candidate

Ivey Global Lab: An invaluable opportunity in Thailand

Aug 31, 2023

Shania Kalpee

Shania Kalpee, MSc ’24 candidate, at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

Shania Kalpee is an MSc ’24 Dual Degree candidate at the Ivey Business School and the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). She is also the VP of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the MSc Association. In her blog below, Kalpee reflects on her experience in Thailand while participating in the Ivey Global Lab (IGL) trip. IGL provides International Business stream students the opportunity to gain real life hands-on experience in the business and cultural environment in a developing economy while working for local emerging market firms.

To get the most out of the opportunity to work and immerse myself in a new environment, I had to have an open mind and be willing to put myself out of my comfort zone. Heading to Thailand for an eight-week internship was the optimal balance of comfort and discomfort. It gave me the grace to try new foods, experience different working environments and interact with people from different cultures. Being able to appreciate the work ethic from the Thai community and experience the passion they hold for the development of their country is something to take note of. Being given the opportunity to immerse myself into a different culture is unique since it encouraged me to develop an appreciation and understanding for cultural norms, ways of life, and traditions.

Implementation of key class concepts into real life experiences

Sometimes it's hard to see the bigger picture and figure out the purpose of content from a class. However, throughout my entire IGL experience in Thailand, I felt a strong sense of appreciation for classes such as Leadership, Cross Cultural Management and Business Communications. Being able to practice what we learnt about giving and receiving feedback from our leadership course definitely allowed our group to form a cohesive team dynamic. Our Executive-in-Residence, Jarunee, was pleasantly surprised with our team and weekly progress, which is something I am very proud to share. Cross Cultural Management prepared us for the different cultural norms, how to navigate them and how to learn from them. Last but not least, Business Communications gave us the tools to present effectively, conduct business with our fellow colleagues, and to carry ourselves with confidence. Being given the opportunity to implement what was taught in class and seeing it work successfully showed me that there is always a purpose and to trust the process.

Breeding ground for learning

What allowed me to grow the most over those eight weeks was working with new team members. This pushed me to open up while also building a functional and healthy work environment. It gave me a taste of what the real world would look like and the challenges that come with it. It taught me how to effectively give and take feedback and showed me how to implement it moving forward. Challenging your team members and giving constructive criticism is crucial for innovation and it helped us improve our service and product for our company, T-ECOSYS. The mission of our company also gave our team an insight to the devotion and dedication it takes to do something you’re passionate about. Their main goal is the development of Thailand’s industrial sector and it made me aware that every individual working there is not only there for themselves, but for their country. It was really an eye opener and it helped broaden my perspective on my own goals and encouraged me to think deeper on what I wanted to accomplish for my own communities.

This was also the first time I decided to take on another role other than the team leader. Initially it was a steep learning curve and a very uncomfortable position to be in, but I eventually found new strengths in areas I never explored before. I came to the realization that in order to develop as a good leader, you need to know when to take space and make space for others. I was able to help others develop in the role as team leader and that inherently pushed me to be more innovative and understanding.

Curiosity is the powerhouse of continuous growth

Although the internship gave us great work experience, there was also unexpected personal growth. I took advantage of the recommendations from local peers of where to visit and what foods to try and it did not disappoint. Thailand is a very culturally rich country and every city has its own hidden gems which are definitely worth exploring. From the food in Bangkok to the beaches in Krabi, one thing remains constant, and that is the warmth from the people. Since the curiosity was mutual, it was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Being a black individual in Thailand was eye-opening as I often felt like I was on display, but my perspective changed when I realized people were inquisitive and they wanted to learn more, the same way I wanted to learn about them. It helped to reshape my perspective on life and I developed a deep sense of patience and grace towards others.

Time flies when you’re having fun and those eight amazing weeks felt like one week, and I am so grateful for the experience.

Ivey Global Lab - Thailand