By Liz Warren-Pederson
The current class of Evening MBA students traveled to China as part of their MGMT 535: International Management course this spring.
“This class is focused on exploring globalization, culture, strategy, human resources, and corporate social responsibility,” said Paul Melendez, professor of practice in management and organizations. In preparing the students for travel, he said, “I was interested in students inquiring about each non-Chinese company’s experiences with cultural differences, strategy for entry, human resources challenges, and the extent to which a company was tending to corporate social responsibility.”
“We met with U.S. companies operating in China, European companies operating in China, and even a Chinese owned and operated company,” said Lauren Bloch, online marketing manager for Miraval Resort & Spa and Eller MBA ’14. “China is a communist country, and we saw that in action. We heard from business leaders how the Chinese government is integrated into business decisions and how much tangible influence the local officials have on their respective jurisdictions.”
“We could read textbook after textbook and never understood a fraction of what we were able to come to understand and experience while on the global experience,” said Scott McKeon (Eller MBA ’15). “The learning came from virtually every interaction — the morning newspaper, listening to the commentary from the tour guides, walking the streets, and reading the supplementary reading materials including cultural notes and a book on Chinese business etiquette. Everything supplemented the lectures from local business leaders and consultants.”
“I’ve traveled around the world but this was my first time in Asia,” Bloch said. “Because our trip was with the business school, we were able to see much deeper into the Chinese economy and culture than perhaps many individual tourists would. We spent time in Shanghai, Beijiing, and even had the opportunity to spend the day in one of the tier two cities, Changzhou, outside of Shanghai. It was incredible to see how all three cities were so different.”
The students had site visits to companies including AGCO, IBM, Bombardier, and OshKosh.
“My favorite company visit was AGCO in Changzhou,” Melendez said. “AGCO is a U.S.-based, agricultural machinery business that just expanded into China. Given China’s population and food needs, the company is well-positioned to service the Chinese market. The visit really highlighted a truly international management team.”
“The leaders were ex pats (one from Germany and one from Brazil) who were extremely candid about what it was like to work for your company as a foreigner in China,” Bloch said. “We were able to see their manufacturing facility and asked tons of questions.”
The trip to Bombardier was also a highlight. “We met with the president of Bombardier China and even through his limited English, his passion for his job was palpable,” Bloch said. “He told such vivid stories about meeting with decision makers to close multi-million dollar contracts for new high speed rail or private jet development in China. It was clear to me that he was a dynamic leader who held his team to very high expectations but would hold himself to an even higher standard.”
On his return, McKeon found himself newly aware of major global news stories coming out of China. “I can clearly see how this portion of my education has made me much more aware of the broader world of business,” he said.
Top image of city and grass with blue sky, the modern building of the lujiazui financial center in shanghai china courtesy Shutterstock.