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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

MBA Student Stetson Palmer Shares His Experience Working in Saudi Arabia as Part of Pepperdine E2B Project with Cordea Consulting

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Delve into a firsthand account of MBA student Stetson Palmer’s experience working in Saudi Arabia as part of a Pepperdine E2B™ Project with Cordea Consulting, an information technology consulting firm at the forefront of strategic business solutions for the healthcare industry.

The Pepperdine E2B™ program uniquely connects students with real-world business challenges, and provided Stetson with a dynamic intersection of classroom and experiential learning. Explore the challenges, triumphs, and lessons that shaped Stetson's journey, offering a unique glimpse into the vibrant economic landscape of Saudi Arabia.

Read Stetson’s Interview:

1. What is the E2B program at Pepperdine?

The E2B program is a unique program where Pepperdine connects MBA candidates with companies that are looking for fresh perspectives and strategic organizational insights. From what I know, Pepperdine is one of the few universities (if not the only one) that offers this program to its students and clients. The E2B program was by far, the most impactful experience I had at Pepperdine. I can't say enough good things about it.

2. How has the E2B experience expanded your business knowledge?

The E2B experience actually exposed me to a sector of business that I had little knowledge of before. I knew nothing about the consulting world and the benefits it provides for clients and consultants themselves. Through prerequisite courses, and the E2B program, I found that I enjoyed consulting work on company product launch strategy, and client-facing interactions, no matter what the industry. Throughout my project in Saudi Arabia, I discovered the high regard for business relationships in the professional world and the doors that they can open. It was a very enlightening experience to bond with professionals from entirely different upbringings and cultural backgrounds. Ultimately, my perspective on the importance of the value of relationships was greatly reinforced. 

3. Tell us about your involvement with Cordea and what it was like being part of a student team/working with the company. What are your key takeaways and learnings from the Cordea project? 

Working with Cordea was stressful but equally rewarding. My team and I encountered many new hurdles that we had never experienced before in our careers. Together we came up with creative solutions and continuously figured out how to move forward. Our biggest initial obstacle was breaking into the network of medical professionals within Saudi Arabia. We spent months sending out hundreds of LinkedIn messages and emails. Ultimately we secured interviews with ten contacts. Upon meeting these people, we were met with warmth and hospitality beyond any of our expectations and were so impressed with the Saudi customs and culture. They were very excited about our project and happily obliged our requests with mountains of data and insights to help. So far, most of our initial relationships with these contacts have evolved into lifelong friendships. 

4. How can these applied, experiential learnings be applied to the "real world" and your current or future roles? 

My learnings from leading a team for this project have armed me with a much more well-rounded global perspective. I discovered the potential our team had when we were given the freedom and capacity to do the best that we could possibly do. I think we all shocked ourselves by the amount we were able to accomplish. I was lucky to connect with Professor Buckingham in the early stages of planning this class project and was able to have the first pick at building my team. I learned how important it is to build an effective team, one that synergizes with each other and builds each other up. In my opinion, that was our secret sauce. Our team had a near-perfect chemistry, which greatly contributed to our level of effectiveness. I was very honored to have the team that I had. Even though I was technically the team leader, I felt that I had to do little to keep my teammates aligned and driven. Nobody ever hesitated to make sure that all felt supported and validated, which is what I believe is one of the most important aspects of leadership.

5. Anything else you want to share? 

My trip to Saudi Arabia was truly life-changing. I was so astonished by the level of hospitality and enthusiasm that we were met with from people on the other side of the planet that never we knew existed a few weeks before. I was humbled by their generosity and support of our endeavors. Most contacts we met with elected to spend an extra evening with us after our initial appointment. We were treated to many cultural dinners, free tours & transportation, and we were even escorted to an Al Nassir soccer game! I was so grateful to be able to visit Saudi Arabia, and I couldn't have been more impressed with the people there. I loved that I got to experience this project as a part of a team of peers whom I respected. Our involvement there together has cemented friendships that will likely last for many years to come. I think that every student who has the slightest inkling to travel should participate in one of the global projects through Pepperdine's E2B program. It provides unsurpassed value in experience and perspective for growing minds.  

Learn more about the Pepperdine E2B™ MBA consulting program