When I was considering pursuing my MBA, one goal I had for myself was to explore the unknown as much as I could. When our Investment and Economics club president, Tyler Owen, who is from Bermuda, said he was going to organize a study trip down to Bermuda for both the club members and anyone else who was interested in learning more about one of the world’s most famous offshore financial centres, I knew I had to take the chance to embrace this amazing experience.
When there is a classmate from that country who can introduce you to the people and everything the country has to offer, it makes a huge difference.
Bermuda is a British overseas territory and offshore finance centre in the North Atlantic Ocean. Although known to many people by the Bermuda Triangle myth, it is one of the world’s foremost insurance and re-insurance centers. Bermuda is also an incorporation destination for many of the world’s top 500 companies given its zero corporate taxation and other tax benefits compared with countries like the US or Canada. There is only so much that you can learn from the internet or as a tourist, but when there is a classmate from that country who can introduce you to the people and everything the country has to offer, it makes a huge difference.
The trip to Bermuda was a perfect combination of experiencing culture alongside business and study. On the first day of our arrival, we were invited to watch the Gombey show by the Bermuda Tourism Board. Gombey is a folklife dance show representing the combination of African, Caribbean, and Native American cultures. The music has strong and vibrant rhythm through which the dancers dance in groups that resemble the evolving life cycle from childhood to adulthood. The amazing part of the show is that young children, who are probably 3 to 5 years old, play a major part as very professional dancers. We were off to a good start in experiencing the diverse culture of Bermuda.
This was a rare chance for me, who had come to Ivey from China, and it was an amazing opportunity to interact with senior business leaders in the country.
Tyler had arranged a full-day symposium for our Ivey MBA group to interact with business leaders from various industries in Bermuda. This was a rare chance for me, who had come to Ivey from China, and it was an amazing opportunity to interact with senior business leaders in the country. The session was very insightful and inspiring. We listened to Mr. Ross Webber, CEO of the Bermuda Business Development Agency, about how Bermuda values the importance of attracting foreign businesses to the country by providing efficient administrative procedures. The CEO of the Bermuda Tourism Board presented on what the board has been doing to market the country as a vacation destination for young generations.
We also had the honour of hearing from several Western/Ivey alumni who are successful entrepreneurs and business leaders and who talked about their career paths and what it is like to work in Bermuda. There were also industry leaders in some of the world’s top insurance and re-insurance companies who spoke about the industry, authentic leadership, and quality decision making. As MBA students, we are all aiming for the next career stage and life advancement with the knowledge and skills we learn at Ivey. This first-hand experience to explore different business and career opportunities in another country has made my MBA experience even more valuable.
During the trip, we had the privilege of visiting Tyler’s aunt, a successful entrepreneur on the island, who started from almost nothing and made herself a business leader who owns the largest grocery chain in the country. Her friend, who happened to visit on vacation, also talked with us about what led her to a reputable career as a lawyer in the U.K. She talked about the importance of having empathy and of coming up with solutions for identified problems, which led me to reflect on some of my own career experiences in the past.
The Caribbean weather could not have been more pleasant and the sea could not have been more beautiful. We had a boat cruise night to experience the local lifestyle along with other water entertainment, such as a jet ski, cliff jumping, and swimming. There are colourful houses, pink beaches, a deep blue sea, and friendly residents in Bermuda. I wish to come back someday in the future, not only for vacation, but also for the friendships that I have built.
Thanks to Tyler and his wife and the collaborative efforts of the Investing club and Finance club that made this trip happen. I am sure it will be one of the most memorable experiences when looking back at my MBA year at Ivey.