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By Jennifer Johnson, Director, MBA Career Services
At Tippie, providing students with opportunities to understand the globalization of business in today's economy is central to our program’s key learning outcomes. There are a variety of opportunities for students to increase their international perspective via special program offerings. This January, as part of Tippie’s yearly Global Learning Opportunity (GLO) trips held each winter term, students in the Full-time MBA Program and the MBA for Professionals and Managers Program (MBA-PM) traveled to Chile and Argentina for a Seminar in International Business: Going & Growing Global in Argentina & Chile. The goal of this international educational experience is to expose MBA students to global business issues with focus on the economies and cultures of these countries.
As the staff partner for the South America GLO this year, I had the opportunity to enjoy this experience with our students and would say—without a doubt—the learning goals of this program were realized beyond expectation. The opportunity to take classroom learning with one of Tippie’s exceptional faculty, Frank Rydzewski, who brings a wealth of international business experience, and apply it via immersion in South American culture, is tremendous. We visited companies across key industry sectors in both countries, such as international trade and commerce, steel, wine, consumer packaged goods, and manufacturing.
A few personal favorites were our visit to De Martino Winery in Chile where Export Director Guy Hopper shared incredible insight on the wine industry in Chile and their growth strategy for the future. Our visit to John Deere’s operations in Rosario, Argentina, was also terrific. Led by Aaron Wetzel—University of Iowa alumnus and current Vice President of Sales & Marketing for John Deere’s Latin America operations—we had the chance to hear from key leaders in the organization and learn about Deere’s business outside the US. We also enjoyed cultural experiences like a day of hiking, rafting, zip lining, and horseback riding at Maipo Canyon in the Andes Mountains.
Students learned more than common business practices in these countries throughout the week as they were exposed to a variety of cultural nuances you just don’t learn in the classroom. For example, time is NOT a priority in Argentina, so we were often late for company visits. At restaurants service was extremely slow (by American standards)—however, in their culture this is accepted as they like to enjoy life and a four-hour dinner is typical. An attentive server is even seen as a sign of disrespect! This insight was terrific, as it clearly crosses over to how business operate and students interested in global business would need to be adaptable and flexible when working in this country given these cultural differences.
Overall, our students came away from this experience with a better understanding and respect for international business. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for some of our MBAs and I’m glad I could be a part of it.
By Jared Marks, 2nd-Year Finance Academy student
I had the excellent opportunity to experience Southeast China on a first-hand basis through a course offered by the Tippie School of Management. The Global Learning Opportunity (GLO) International Business Seminar is a great way to spread your wings and your business sense on a global level. During our time in China, we visited various manufacturing sites, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and Principal Financial, and experienced the Chinese culture.
One of the first stops was the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the second largest stock exchange in Asia (after Tokyo). I was surprised to see just how quiet and coordinated the trading floor appeared. The floor was not a bustle of people like you would expect to see at the NYSE or Chicago Board of Trade.
On day two we visited Disneyland Resort Park Hong Kong. We had a great opportunity to meet with the CFO of Disneyland HK, Michael Moriarty, who lived through the launch and was able to tell us all the ins and outs of entering the Chinese markets. Following our meeting, we were given the opportunity to experience the park first hand—my first experience in a Disney park anywhere in the world.
One company we visited, Lamex, is owned by the office furniture manufacturer HNI, headquartered in Muscatine, IA. HNI was my previous employer, where I worked in product management. During our tour of Lamex I was actually able to see the products being made that I helped launch in the U.S. markets in 2008—truly an awesome experience.
Our last stop was at Principal Financial in Hong Kong. Principal is a Des Moines-based company with offices all over the world. The President of Asia Principal Group was our opening speaker, followed by the CEO of PrinCorp Wealth Advisors. The two of them really opened the class’s eyes to the exploding market of financial services in Asia.
I would recommend this course to all current and future students. The trip was extremely well planned out and executed, to make the most of our international adventure. It was an awesome experience!