“It was the perfect mix of human-centered consulting, economic development, Latin America, and coffee.”
Katie Wehmeyer, a 2016 Crosby MBA graduate with an interest in Entrepreneurship, saw the January 2017 trip to Nicaragua as an opportunity to learn by doing—an experience she grew to love and embrace during her time in the MBA program. “After graduating,” she says, “I started to re-appreciate all of the projects we had in the program, and how they exposed me to so many different industries and different problems to be solved.” Now working in a full-time position as a Biodesign & Innovation Fellow at Mizzou, she spends a great deal of her time working in the technology innovation space. By immersing herself in this opportunity and traveling outside of her comfort zone, she knew she would benefit from becoming even more well-rounded in the social sector of innovation, while also having a lot of fun.
In order to prepare for the trip, Wehmeyer, current students, and administrators of the program met to learn about Nicaragua, the coffee production industry, and the women’s cooperative in Santa Julia. The purpose of this trip was to establish a mutually beneficial relationship that would also serve to maximize the cooperative’s communal impact. Learn more about this international consulting trip by reading posts 1, 2, and 3.
Working as a facilitator of the program, it allowed her to continue to apply concepts that she had learned through coursework, while also connecting with students of all backgrounds and skill-sets.
“It was inspiring to see everyone use their individual strengths in collaborating toward a common goal,” says Wehmeyer.
While working on the project, the team picked coffee, de-pulped the cherries, sorted and roasted the beans, then ground and bagged the finished product. She states that this gave them a greater appreciation for the women’s day-to-day activities and context around which they could build solutions. However, most of their time was spent asking questions, organizing and making sense of the answers, and then determining the unknowns they needed to define or observe the next day. The week culminated in process-improvement recommendations, input on profit-maximizing strategies, and a strong relationship with Santa Julia that will hopefully be built upon by future consulting groups. The greatest takeaway she had from the traveling experience was the importance of co-creating solutions.
“While I see the appeal of having a ‘big reveal’ with of all of the brilliant solutions we came up with during the week, no solution is brilliant if they can’t use it,” says Wehmeyer.
Wehmeyer says she especially enjoyed getting to know the new students, what brought them to the program, and their dreams for life following the MBA program.
“You only regret the things you don’t do. Traveling and being in a new place with new people is learning by immersion, and that’s how we learn the most.”
**To be considered for a place as an alumni facilitator in future Crosby MBA study abroad opportunities, please contact Robyn Ridgway at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Wehmeyer graduated from the Crosby MBA program in May 2016 with a concentration in Management. Her undergraduate degree from MU was in bioengineering. She is currently a business design fellow for the MU Biodesign & Innovation Program, bringing innovative medical technologies and health care solutions to market through a three-stage process of ideation, invention and implementation.