When Deborah Yim applied to UCLA Anderson’s MBA program, she knew that hands-on learning was a big feature of the academic experience. Her plan was to transition from accounting to consulting after graduation so the more real-world experience she could gain in her new field the better. She particularly looked forward to the Applied Management Research Program (AMR) in which second-year MBA students can work on consulting projects for actual clients.
However, when she learned that her AMR project would be for Conservation International to help save the Amazon Rainforest, she was blown away. She had never expected to have an opportunity to work on such a unique consulting project much less conduct research in Suriname, but that is exactly where the AMR took her. Now that her project is wrapping up, we asked Yim to tell us about her AMR experience. Here’s what she said:
“Conservation International gave our AMR team a fairly broad question related to tourism in Suriname, which is a small country above Brazil mostly comprised of untouched rainforest. It wanted to know if tourism could provide the country with an alternative lucrative industry in place of ones such as mining that would be destructive to the rainforest.
“Since there is hardly any information available on Suriname on the Internet, we were fortunate that we had the opportunity to visit the country for on-the-ground research. During our team’s visits, we conducted in-person interviews, studied the current infrastructure, and even tested out tourism products such as hotels and tours. We then used our data to do a value chain analysis as well as a comparative analysis to other countries like Belize and Costa Rica.
“During my last visit, we presented our findings that tourism could be a sustainable source of revenue, but that it’s very early and they have a lot to work on. This confirmed what many involved in the tourism industry in Suriname have long believed, but now they have data from our project to back it up.
“My AMR project has been a unique opportunity to not only gain consulting experience for a real client, but to apply my business skills in such an interesting and remote setting. The project really encouraged independent, out-of-the box thinking. We pulled from various aspects of our classes into this project, making it a different and effective way of learning.
“It definitely helped me achieve my goal of gaining a broader business education to transition into consulting – I’ll be working in M&A consulting for Ernst & Young after graduation.”
- MBA Admissions and Financial Aid