Business students expand international perspective

By Marissa Harrison | Staff writer

Students currently enrolled in their last two semesters of the MBA program had the opportunity to apply the international management concepts learned this semester through a two-week trip to Brazil from Nov. 23 to Dec. 3.

Dr. Mohan Kuruvilla, dean of the School of Business, will lead the trip. He has contributed to trips abroad for several years and accompanied students on their trip to India last year.

This year’s trip will allow students to interact with a number of CEOs and other executives to expand students’ understanding of business relations in a global setting.

While in Brazil, students will divide the time between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The first five days of the trip will be spent in Rio, where students will meet executives from a variety of U.S. and Brazilian multinational corporations.

Students will then spend the next four days in Sao Paulo, where they will visit the Brazilian Stock exchange along with  the Sao Paulo Chamber of Commerce.

They will also visit two Brazilan companies — Sebrae and Natura — to study the business models that these companies used to develop their corporations and accommodate international barriers they encountered along the way.

Kuruvilla explained how visiting foreign corporations will contribute to MBA students’ comprehension of global business and management.

“We are using one country at a time to gain some understanding of the country’s perspective and the cultural issues that play into business and management,” he said.

Kuruvilla also explained that many of the MBA students going to Brazil gained additional preparation for the trip through an intensive five-week course that focused specifically on international management.

Students examined case studies of various companies’ developments and discussed the complex issues that may arise throughout this developmental process. Many of the Brazilian companies they will tour experienced developmental issues similar to what the students discussed in class, allowing them to experience firsthand how companies overcame these issues and learn from their experience.

Brazil’s current status as a developing country was actually one of the primary reasons it was chosen for students to visit. Kuruvilla emphasized that students can gain a greater insight from the lessons of business management in a rapidly developing economy versus one in a well-established economy.

Dr. Richard Martinez, chair of the department of management, marketing and business, explained advantages students gain from studying corporations in developing economies.

“We know China, India and Brazil are going to be the major leaders in business in the next 20 years,” he said. “Students will be working with companies that will be comfortable working with sending them to that region.”

Sara Andrews, a recent graduate of the University’s MBA program, said that last year’s trip to India increased her understanding of global business operations today and taught her the importance of becoming culturally immersed in an ever increasing global economy.

She said one of the most important lessons she learned from Indian companies was the benefit of training culturally knowledgeable employees, allowing the company to gain a stronger advantage interacting in today’s global economy.

“I feel, as business professionals, we need to be diligent and culturally sensitive to other countries to do business better with international companies” she said, adding that other MBA students should take advantage of opportunities to study abroad.

“I would not just recommend it, I would say they have to. It is not an experience you want to miss out on,” she said.

Martinez said studying abroad offers students the chance to learn a country’s ethics and culture on a personal level, which they can utilize in future international business encounters.

“It’s very easy for us to dismiss other people and other cultures,” he said. “After learning more about them, we become more concerned about ethics and relationships, and that is such a valuable experience.”

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