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Tippie MBA-PM Students Learn International Business in Hong Kong

In May, 35 students in the Tippie School of Management's MBA for Professionals and Managers Program (MBA-PM) traveled to Hong Kong to learn about international business in the Far East. The trip was designed to expand students' understanding of the global economy and establish connections with Tippie alumni and successful managers in China.

"The students met some top manufacturing executives and saw firsthand how business is done in China," said Terry Heinichen, director of the Tippie MBA-PM program. "This was an excellent opportunity to see how this country exerts a tremendous presence in the global economy."

"Before this trip, I had some awareness of China’s impact on globalization, but this experience provided a completely new perspective on its modernization, its mechanisms, and scale of growth, and, most importantly, its strategic fit with my industry. It was the perfect way to wrap up my Iowa MBA," said Aric Halloran, an engineering supervisor at John Deere Engine Works in Waterloo.

Ann Knudson, assistant director for the Institute for International Business in the Tippie College, joined the students on the trip, which was part of the MBA-PM's International Program Option.

During the two-week trip, the MBA-PM students joined the UI Hong Kong Executive MBA (EMBA) students in a macroeconomics class, International Economic Environment of the Firm, taught by Economics Professor Beth Ingram, associate dean of the Tippie Undergraduate Program. Outside of class, the MBA-PM students had dinner with the Hong Kong students and several Hong Kong EMBA program alumni, giving them another direct connection to Chinese business community.

One of the highlights of the trip was a tour of Cathay Plastic Factory located in Shenzhen, China, which is owned by William Yao, a Hong Kong EMBA alumnus. During the visit, Yao said he would have discussions with current students or alums about their business ideas, Heinichen said. The students also visited the TTE Corp. television factory in Huizhou. The company encompasses Thompson, TTE, and RCA TV and is a leading manufacturer of televisions worldwide. The tour was set up through Paul Marcus, a Tippie College undergraduate alumnus and member of the Department of Finance Advisory Board who does business in China.

Though much of the manufacturing process at these companies was automated, there was still much manual labor involved in the assembly lines. "I was completely amazed by the production atmosphere. The women did not talk to one another and worked fast," commented Emily French, an MBA student who is a process improvement engineer at Quaker Foods in Cedar Rapids. (For more of French’s observations from China, see her blog).

Another highlight was a visit to DP World Terminal, which handles containers shipped in and out of Hong Kong to the rest of the world. The group saw the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and visited the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, heard from the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce’s chief economist, David O’Rear, who related some basic facts about the Hong Kong economy, its taxation structure, and land ownership. Another speaker to meet with the group was sales training and sales management consultant Anthony Solimini. Solimini, who also has an extensive background in the banking industry, talked about his own experience as a U.S. national living and working in Southeast Asia over the last 10 years.

Outside of the class and tours, the students had some free time to shop, sample Chinese cuisine, and visit the many sights in Hong Kong. Heinichen added that MBA-PM Program is planning another trip Hong Kong in January 2007. For more information about the International Programs Option, see the MBA-PM website.


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