June 16, 2010
The Rollins MBA program is a practical MBA that immerses students in the learning environment and encourages them to think like business executives. In addition, Rollins MBA students have many opportunities to engage in hands-on learning experiences with some of the top business leaders from around the world. In April 2010, students from the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business experienced a simulated international business trip to Shanghai, China as they participated in this Global Research and Study Program, which was part of Crummer’s comprehensive curriculum. The trip was designed to provide aspiring young businessmen and women a firsthand education in time budgeting and personal organization, air travel and embracing a foreign culture while representing both Rollins and the United States of America.
The focus of the trip was to immerse students in the Chinese business environment. Days consisted of panel discussions and presentations by experts and professionals established in Chinese business practices and theories and current and projected trends in the global business environment. In addition, students visited several significant multinational corporations, including Maersk, Seimens and Coca-Cola, all of which have achieved success in China.
“My favorite corporation that we visited was Coca-Cola, because I was actually able to figure out how the Chinese version of the brand differed from the one I was familiar with,” said Roger Amundsen (MBA Class of 2011). “The contrast was fascinating and it confirmed to me that the globalization of an American brand must take into account the tastes and preferences of the local population. Only then can a multinational company achieve success in a foreign land.”
At the East China University of Science and Technology, also a destination for the MBAs abroad, students were provided the opportunity to relate with fellow post-graduate students on social life and school work.
“Most of the Chinese students were very shy,” commented Tine Wulfert (MBA Class of 2011). “However, the students who were more comfortable speaking English were more open to conversation. They took us on a tour of the campus, which was really beautiful and as intimate as Rollins, and explained the significance of the large statue of Mao Zedong…how he can be simultaneously revered and despised still escapes me.”
Following the full days of business, scheduled group activities provided a safe and exciting outlet to experience the sights and sounds of the Chinese culture. In addition to guided tours of the beautiful Yu Garden and mystifying Jade Buddha temple, attendance at Shanghai Circus World’s acrobatic show and a trip to the observation deck of the Shanghai World Financial Center (the third tallest building in the world) stimulated the eyes, ears and minds of the travelers.
Students found themselves fully immersed in the Chinese culture. Shanghai’s bargain shopping and thriving nightlife successfully managed to lure even the most introverted of student travelers out of his shell. Complete with copious multi-story shopping plazas, rocking karaoke bars, funk clubs with cover bands, bouncing disco techs and upscale restaurants, Shanghai’s urban lifestyle appeared exceedingly “Western” and welcoming to most students.
“The most valuable part of the experience was learning how to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language as I do,” Chris Garlock (MBA Class of 2011) said. “The depth of understanding I gained of the Chinese culture can directly be attributed to my interaction with the people I met. Actually experiencing a culture from the perspective of the people was invaluable.”
Perhaps the most physically challenging aspect of the experience was the traveling and eventual jet lag. True to the Crummer Graduate School of Business’ mission of providing experiential learning, the challenge of international travel was yet another true to life aspect of this experience.
Students returned to Winter Park, FL, with a greater understanding of the Chinese business environment and a greater appreciation of the Chinese culture. For more information on the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business and its unique approach to business education, please visit mba.rollins.edu.
--Justin Braun (MBA Class of 2011)