Community, Diversity, and Adventure: An Expat’s Tale at ASB

by Mike Titzer, Class of 2018

The bride’s mother paraded into the wedding hall wearing a large ornamental headdress with candles on top.  Accompanied at first by only the bridal party, she was soon joined by ourselves and the rest of the three hundred wedding attendees in a line dance snaking throughout the hall.  My Indian-Malay classmate had invited a few of us to his cousin’s wedding in Kuala Lumpur that evening, and as we danced the night away to Bollywood tunes with the other wedding attendees, I found myself realizing that this multi-cultural, community-bonding experience that I shared with my classmates could not be found at any other MBA program in the world, but only at a place like ASB.

Many MBA programs in the United States tout themselves as “global” or “diverse,” but in actuality just comprise of students from different US states, with only a handful of international students.  When I first read about ASB, I realized that it was different than the standard MBA experience.  It was in fact exactly what I was looking for: a truly global, culturally diverse program that still adhered to the same high-level academic principles as MIT Sloan.

Mike Titzer, AL on-site

On-site with my Action Learning team at AirAsia’s new headquarters, RedQ.

Having such a diverse class while living in Kuala Lumpur makes learning fun both inside and outside the classroom.  For example, during our case study on the Shell oil crisis in Nigeria, our Nigerian classmates gave us a special insight into the political landscape of Nigeria at the time.  Outside the classroom, our cultural diversity allows us to learn firsthand about important cultural traditions practiced in Malaysia, as our class holds celebrations for Chinese New Year, Diwali, and Hari Raya Haji, to name a few.  Outside the ASB community and in the city, I’ve made friends at CrossFit Pahlawan, a welcoming and inspiring community of Malaysian CrossFitters that is my “home away from home.”  Finally, working alongside our Malaysian classmates during our Action Learning Projects in Malaysia has been especially eye-opening to see both the similarities and differences of doing business in Malaysia versus other parts of the world.

I have always loved living and working overseas, which allows me to explore new places, start new ventures in uncertain environments, and interact with different cultures.  This sense of adventure and exploration was one of the driving forces behind my volunteering for overseas assignments during my time in the US Marine Corps, and was also the main factor behind my decision to help open the first CrossFit gym in Cambodia after leaving the military.  I’ve found that, at ASB, other students share the same passion for exploration.  Here, I’m surrounded by people who love to live and work in new and exciting environments just as much as I do.  All of us took a leap of faith to move out to Kuala Lumpur to attend a brand-new MBA program, and this shared sense of adventure unites us all.  Whether we’re taking a weekend to climb Mt. Kinabalu, sailing off the coast of Thailand over winter break, or working in Bangkok for our action-learning project, my classmates and I jump at the chance to learn something new, explore another country, or work in uncertain environments.  In my opinion, other stateside MBA programs cannot replicate this shared passion for adventure, and has been one of the most inspiring aspects of our student body.

A diverse community, cultural exchanges, and a sense of adventure.  These are the qualities that unite us and make our student body special.  I could not be happier with my choice of degree program, and can’t wait to see where the adventure of life takes our class next!

Mike Titzer

Visiting A’Famosa at Melaka city, a UNESCO world heritage site.