International Study Programs Give Business Students a Global Edge
To help students gain an edge in understanding and navigating the ever-changing global marketplace, each year the Business School conducts a series of unique international study programs.
"If we stay home we tend to think our way of doing things is the only way," explains Wendy Guild, an instructor who teaches Sports and Entertainment Management in the MBA program. During spring break, she leads students on a two-week tour of venues in London and Liverpool.
Guild’s "London Calling" trip allows students to learn the inner workings and business strategies of the British sports, theater and music industries. They learn how entrepreneurs were able to reinvent London’s failed "Millennium Experience" with its famed dome, turning it into the popular and heavily branded O2 sports and entertainment center. They also walk the storied greens of Wimbledon and learned how the iconic tennis tournament has been able to survive with surprisingly little advertising.
"Really, when you think about it, how can you not do international?" asks Tiffany Espinosa, an administrator for the 11-month accelerated MBA program. "It’s all part of doing business today. You can’t even ship a package overseas without understanding what is happening in the country you’re sending it to."
Study-Abroad Opportunities for 11-Month MBAs
Last spring 30 students in the 11-Month MBA program traveled to Prague and Munich for two weeks of immersion in business practices. Each year the program offers different destinations. In addition to business curriculum, participants are also schooled in the culture, politics and history of the host nation and how each shapes the country’s business climate. In the Czech Republic, for example, students learned how decades of communist rule created a secretive, often cagey, way of doing business called "tunneling." In contrast, they found the German way of doing business more upfront and structured.
The purpose of these trips is to expose students to how people do business in other countries. "It gives students something to differentiate themselves," says Mary Lee Stansifer, a senior international marketing instructor. Last year she took students for two weeks to Costa Rica to see how their companies market products. Students toured not only a Costa Rican franchise of a large multinational company, but also explored how local retail and advertising works in a different culture. Because labor is cheaper in Central America, companies do much more face-to-face marketing rather than relying on large advertising budgets. For example, at a local Wal-Mart store, people hired by Huggies were dressed in pajamas and slippers and greeted shoppers, extolling the virtues of their product.
Derek Serlet, an MBA candidate, had never traveled beyond this continent before he went to England last year. At first he found the lack of urgency and different business approach of the European marketplace irritating, but ultimately he began to see value as well. Upon his return he found himself questioning the pace of America. "It showed me you don’t have to do things only one way."
Even though each of the trips differs, they share a common goal: to challenge mindsets and deepen cultural respect for others.
Reprinted from spring 2010 issue of 14th St Journal