Knowledge in the service of humanity: Goizueta goes to Haiti

GBS visits PRODEV school Ecole Nouvelle Zoranje

Watching the Haitian sunset on Jan. 12th, the 8th anniversary of the 2010 earthquake

Emory University’s mission is to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity. As students, it’s easy to get consumed by the day-to-day minutiae of our lives; between recruiting and classwork, we’re often busier than we want to be. At the end of the day, however, it’s this mission of “knowledge in the service of humanity” that binds us all together. It is firmly embedded in the fabric of our experience at Goizueta.

This mission became very personal to me earlier this year when I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with nine of my classmates. We had two goals for our trip: (1) to complete a project with a Haitian business, and (2) to help craft a travel experience in Haiti that can be offered annually for Goizueta students in future years.

Fortunately for us, we were accompanied by Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, our associate dean for Leadership Development at Goizueta. Ken led the U.S. military response to the Port-au-Prince earthquake in 2010, so he was able to provide us with a firsthand account of life in Haiti during that time and his leadership of the recovery process. We were also able to accompany him to a memorial service at the Hotel Montana on the eighth anniversary of the earthquake, which was a very meaningful experience for all of us.

Goizueta students participate in a memorial service at the Hotel Montana

RAM plays at the Hotel Oloffson

While in Haiti, we had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the U.S. Embassy and the Haitian President’s Office as well as a number of businesses including J/P HRO, Papillon Enterprise and PRODEV. We also got to experience some Haitian culture; one of my personal highlights was visiting the Hotel Oloffson where we danced the night away with RAM, a “Vodou rock ‘n’ roots” band.

The bulk of our time, however, was spent working on a project with a handmade artisan goods company called Caribbean Craft. Unemployment is widespread in Haiti (it’s estimated that over 60 percent of the labor force does not have a formal job), so companies like Caribbean Craft that provide jobs to the community are crucial to the country’s future. The company already has a strong wholesale presence in the U.S., but the goal of our project was to help them develop a marketing strategy for their growing direct-to-consumer business that launched in late 2017. At the end of our time in Haiti, the leaders of Caribbean Craft hosted us for dinner at their home, where we delivered our recommendations to them.

Working on our project at the offices of Caribbean Craft

I’ve made many great memories to count during my time at Goizueta — these two years have been exciting and challenging, both inside and outside the classroom. My trip to Haiti, however, stands out above all the rest as an experience that makes me proud to be an Emory MBA candidate. As a business student, I can’t imagine a better way to “create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity” than to use what I’ve learned at Goizueta to help grow a business and create jobs in an area that truly needs them.

Katie Hoppenjans

Katie Hoppenjans

Katie Hoppenjans is a second-year MBA student concentrating in Brand Management. She is originally from Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English. Before coming to Goizueta, Katie worked as a fashion and beauty editor at a national bridal magazine in New York City. This summer, she will be interning at Georgia-Pacific in their Marketing/General Management program.

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