For some Wharton MBAs, learning means trekking across glaciers in Antarctica and sailing in the Caribbean.

Wharton Leadership Ventures provides experiential learning for MBA students, through trips to locales like Kilimanjaro and the British Virgin Islands. One group will travel to Antarctica during winter break.

Every incoming MBA is required to take “Management 652,” a course on leadership, explained Jeff Klein, director of the Wharton Graduate Leadership Program. The class teaches students about leadership and teamwork, and WLV helps students apply the coursework to the real world.

In broadening its focus from leadership to environmental issues, WLV partnered with the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership last year — and also began allowing non-MBA students to participate in the trips.

Graduate School of Education student Miguel Labrego “jumped at the opportunity” and will be traveling to Antarctica in December.

“In most aspects of life, it’s always good to acquire leadership skills,” Labrego said, “since life is anything but calm.”

Although the WLV brochure advertises the cost of the trip as $6,450, Labrego estimated it will actually cost $9,000 after he accounts for airfare.

But since he anticipates that the trip will be a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he decided to take out a loan and made a web site to raise the funds.

“When will I ever get to have these connections at the Wharton School and go to Antarctica … a place usually reserved for published scientists?” Labrego asked.

But Klein said money is usually not an issue for potential participants.

In addition to Antarctica, WLV takes groups ice-climbing in the Adirondacks and mountaineering in Kilimanjaro.

“We want to create experiences that are hard to replicate — that are unique,” Klein said. “There are cruise ships to Antarctica, but it’s difficult to actually walk on the glacier and camp on the ice.”

Second-year MBA student Edyta Szczepankowska went to Antarctica last December and is going to Cotopaxi in Quito, Ecuador in March.

Last year’s trip was “a chance to test various leadership styles in a safe environment,” she said, “and an amazing opportunity to get to know my classmates, not as future business partners, but as close friends.”

Walter Czarnecki, a student in the Lauder Program who also went to Antarctica last year, said his least favorite memory of the trip was “having diarrhea four times within the first 24 hours of landing in Antarctica, but it helped break the ice in our team.”

“I also learned the need to anticipate unexpected obstacles,” Czarnecki added. “Every day we spent a great deal of time preparing for the day’s activities, and yet we constantly faced challenges we hadn’t considered.”

*This article has been corrected to reflect that Labrego estimated the trip would cost $9,000 when airfare is accounted for.

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