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By Liz Warren-Pederson

Eller Evening MBA students visit the Great Wall of China during their trip to China and South Korea.  Photo courtesy Jessica Spinks.

Eller Evening MBA students visit the Great Wall of
China during their trip to China and South Korea.
Photo courtesy Jessica Spinks.

As part of a required international management course, Evening and Executive MBAs traveled to South America and Asia to gain essential perspective on globalized business practice.

“We spend a great deal of time examining globalization, culture, strategy and market opportunities, human resources, and corporate social responsibility, with special emphasis on the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) nations,” said Paul Melendez, EthicsPoint Distinguished Lecturer in Business Ethics. “There is no better way to link an academic course with an international experience than by traveling to China and Brazil and visiting neighboring countries. The trips allow students to test out the content covered in class with corporate site visits.”

Lauren Mansene, communications coordinator with the Sojourner Center, chose to go on the South America trip. “I have been fortunate enough to travel to Europe several times, but this was my first trip to South America,” she said. “The business content of the trip allowed me to gain a different perspective on how business is conducted internationally and how culture plays a large role in how businesses operate. The visits also gave me a glimpse inside companies that I would not normally have the opportunity to come into contact with, aside from a possible case study.”

Ted Naone, a supplier quality engineer with Raytheon, chose to go on the Asia trip. Early in his career, Naone lived and worked in northern Italy while his wife completed a graduate program, but this marked his first trip to China and South Korea. “It was an amazing trip,” he said, “and the differed sites we visited were really varied.”

The group visited with senior executives at Mattel, expat employees at Ernst & Young in Shanghai, theU.S. Department of Commerce, and the Hyundai Sonata factory. “Coming from an engineering background, that was impressive,” he said. “A finished car comes off the factory floor every 20 minutes.”

Mansene said the class visited a number of nonprofits in South America. “I was captivated by the presentation by Alejo Nitti, co-founder of TOMS Shoes,” she said. Nitti explained the company’s founding concept, that for every pair of shoes purchased, the company donates a pair to a child in need. “From a nonprofit services perspective, Alejo provided valuable insight into their overall program,” Mansene said. “Their program addresses a serious need in the community while providing value-add to their customers. I personally purchased a pair as soon as I got home. And I love them!”

Both Naone and Mansene said the coursework before the trips was valuable. “The lectures, projects, and readings affiliated with the international management class gave us the tools and information we needed to evaluate the businesses and cultures in the countries we were visiting,” Mansene said.

“It was good to have two perspectives in class,” Naone added, “with Paul Melendez’s academic/research experience and Dick Clout’s executive experience. Of course, all the material really comes together when you’re actually there.”

“This trip gave me an opportunity to couple my educational experience with my love for exploring other countries and cultures,” Mansene concluded. “In addition, my classmates and I had a chance to spend time with one another outside of group work and the classroom. It allowed us to bond in a new way that was less about homework deliverables and more about cultural immersion.”