A Memorable Sternie Experience in New Zealand

Author: Sarah Sprole is an MBA Candidate at the Stern School of Business in NYU, specializing in Strategy, Technology Product Management and Leadership & Change Management. Prior to Stern, Sarah worked in finance for five years in New York. Sarah interned at and will be returning to Adobe as a Strategy & Operations Manager after graduating in May 2024. Sarah is proud to have been a career mentor, the VP of Mentorship for Stern Technology Association, a SVP for Stern Student Government, and a VP with Stern Management & Strategy.

When deciding on MBA programs, Stern’s DBi (Doing Business in) program was a key differentiator in my choice to attend Stern. I didn’t have the opportunity to study abroad in my undergrad, so having the ability to explore and learn in a new country was an important factor in my decision. Stern’s DBi programs give MBA students the ability to take a class for credit in another country and I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to New Zealand for a DBi in January. It’s not a secret that I’m a bit of a homebody – I generally love my routine, but going on this DBi pushed me to try new things and leave my comfort zone for a few weeks and I’m so glad I had this opportunity! Over the course of the two week program, I learned a lot about the business challenges and opportunities in NZ, got to experience new things, deepened my friendships with my classmates and met Sternies in other programs. 

Learning about Business Challenges in NZ

We spent the first few days immersed in a classroom setting, learning about the unique opportunities and challenges of conducting business in New Zealand. My favorite lecture was on the Maori culture and customs and how they have permeated throughout the norms of the businesses in New Zealand. One of our lectures focused on the challenges in the housing market in Auckland and New Zealand. We also spent a lot of class time discussing and debating the pros and cons of the risk aversion culture generally observed by kiwis. After some time in the classroom, the program took us to three different companies to learn about their operations on-site. We had the opportunity to go to the Port of Auckland, a pharmaceutical company and a business incubator with deep Pacific-Islander cultural connections. I never thought I’d learn so much about shipping containers and the logistics of operating a Port, but it was fascinating.  After getting decked out with protective equipment, we also got to learn about the production processes at pharmaceutical companies.

The view from our wine tour and tasting on the Island of Waiheke.

Once-in-a-lifetime Experiences in NZ

In New Zealand, Stern and the partner university planned some incredible experiences for us. My favorite was our day on the island of Waiheke. We started the day by taking the ferry over to Waiheke Island. Once we arrived, we went wine tasting at two incredible vineyards and ended the day by watching the sunset over dinner on top of a mountain on the island. New Zealand is known for its Sauvignon Blanc, but we got to taste several other types of wine too. Outside of the scheduled program, I experienced some of what the north island has to offer with a few of my classmates. We went to Hobbiton, which was an incredibly beautiful and unique experience, got to see some glowworms in a cave, and saw the geysers at Rotorua. Although I never read or watched Lord of the Rings, my time in the countryside in New Zealand, seeing sheep, and witnessing the passion of the fans, was a very cool experience. Beyond that, seeing TWO kiwi birds was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me!

Sarah Sprole, Sarah Qin and Danit Fleishman at the Pohutu Geyser in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Deeping my Friendships Outside the Classroom

Throughout my time at Stern, I have built life-long friendships with people in my class. Seeing my peers every day, going to Stern Social together, grabbing coffee between classes and catching up in the grad lounge had already strengthened my friendships with my MBA peers. However, through this DBi, my connection with my friends grew even stronger. We explored new places, bonded over our love of skincare and supported each other through the good and sometimes hard times in the program. Two of my classmates (you know who you are) saw my disheveled self after flying for 20 hours from NYC to Auckland and fortunately, they still wanted to be my friends. Nothing bonds you more than some lovely time in the airport. My roommate in Auckland and I also deepened our friendship over some after-class sauvignon blanc and heart-to-hearts before shutting off the lights. We supported each other throughout recruiting and challenging coursework back in New York, but our relationship is forever stronger because of our time in New Zealand together. Stern is known for its community and my community has only grown as a result of my time in NZ.

A group photo of many of the students on the DBi in New Zealand overlooking the Auckland harbor.

Meeting with Sternies in Other Programs

One of my favorite parts of my experience in NZ was meeting Sternies in the Langone Part-time program. While we all go to the same school, Langone MBAs often take courses at night or on the weekends and I hadn’t met many of them throughout my coursework at Stern. On the DBi, I worked closely with several Part-time MBAs on our project, but more importantly, built friendships with them outside of the classroom. While grabbing some yummy pizza after class, chatting at the bar on the weekend and exploring the harbor together in Auckland, I built genuine and deep friendships with a few Part-time MBAs who I never would have met without this program. We’ve even maintained our relationships back in NYC!