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New MBA Students Will Learn To Mind Their Manners

Not sure which fork to use for the salad? Or where to put your empty water glass? When to put the napkin on your lap? Renowned etiquette mistress Lydia Ramsey will be sure to tell you what to do.

Politely, of course.

Ramsey, author, etiquette consultant and resident of Savannah, Ga., the politeness capital of the South, will show this year's incoming Tippie Full-Time MBA class how to act professionally when attending a business meal during the program's orientation week. The MBA orientation is called IMPACT (Involvement, Motivation, Professionalism, Achievement, Challenge, Teamwork) and runs from Aug. 14-19. The intense week of activities introduces the 60 incoming students in the full-time program to each other and to the university, and helps them build teamwork.

The students come from across the United States, and from such countries as China, Russia, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Taiwan. As a result, there are often considerable cultural differences in the students' backgrounds, said Gary Gaeth, associate dean of the Tippie School of Management. The etiquette luncheon can help to bridge those differences.

"This isn't training the students for high tea with the queen," said Gaeth. "Because so many of our students come from so many different countries, they come with significant differences in their cultural backgrounds, especially in areas like etiquette. However, they come to our program to learn transferable business skills. The etiquette luncheon is one of the things we do during the orientation week that helps to make the student comfortable in business settings so we can communicate effectively with each other."

Other IMPACT week activities also help to minimize cultural differences, said Gabriel Hansen, director of the IMPACT Week activities. Students will play BAFA BAFA, a game in which they are assigned to one of two different created cultures so they can see how culture and cultural stereotyping play roles in peoples' lives. Hansen said the students spend two days at Camp Wakonda in Central City, camping out, playing games and building camaraderie. The campout includes a session on Wakonda's rope course and climbing wall -- activities that require communication and trust among team members -- all while the associate dean runs the barbecue.

In the classroom, the students will review an original case study of the launch of the Porsche Carrera GT. The GT is a limited edition car of which only 1,270 were produced and that retailed for $448,000 when it was launched in 2003. Since most incoming MBA students have never performed a case study before, this will be an invaluable opportunity to analyze a real business situation and to present a practical solution to a panel of judges, said Gaeth, who helped to develop the case study. They will be given the chance to actually see the car, and David Pryor, a marketing manager from Porsche Cars North America, will speak to the group at the closing luncheon on Aug. 19.


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