In a global business climate, the School of Business is ensuring that its graduates stay ahead of the curve. PLU business students have studied in Peru, China, Taiwan, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and more.
“The business environment is increasingly, incredibly global,” Dean Nancy Albers-Miller said. “If we’re not listening to what the global needs are, we’re not looking at how other companies are dealing with innovative change, we get left behind.”
Study away trips give students the opportunity to think globally and explore different perspectives.
“I love when students study away and learn that there’s more than one right way to solve a problem,” Albers-Miller said. “You get into another cultural environment where they were heavily influenced by their cultural upbringing, and they will see the same problem from a very different perspective and they see a very different solution. In a business world it helps us be better business people. We can be more creative in the way we come up with solutions.”
While study away students come to appreciate global perspectives, they learn that some things are the same no matter what country they are in.
“The sound of a baby crying is the sound of a baby crying everywhere,” Albers-Miller said. “It doesn’t matter where you are. You still have these things that are very human, that are part of the human element, that bind us together as part of the same population on this globe.”
Business students who have studied away, such as Emily Baier and Andrew Miller, can speak to their new perspectives first hand.
Junior accounting concentration Emily Baier had never been out of the country before she attended the J-Term 2015 trip to China and South Korea. The class, Business and Culture in China, was taught by Assistant Professor Brian Maeng, who has a doctorate in Operations Management.
“I just thought it would be really interesting,” Baier said, “since I’m a business major going into the global business environment. I thought it’d be useful to see China’s business hub.”
Throughout the trip, Baier and her peers had the opportunity to see the inner workings of companies along their route. The group visited Honda and Kia assembly lines as well as a contract manufacturer called Ryder Industries, which mostly builds prototype batches of products.
But what really stood out to Baier were her experiences with different cultures. She accidentally tried goose intestine in China, as well as some very fresh snake.
“They’re really big on fresh food,” Baier said, “so we went to the back of this one restaurant and we saw all these live chickens and snakes and stuff and we picked out a cobra.” The chefs prepared the entree for Baier’s group.
“Forty-five minutes later it arrived on our table all cooked up,” she said, “and we got Professor Maeng to try it.”
The group had the opportunity to travel with other college students and learn about their culture firsthand.
“We had local university students with us,” Baier said, “That was one of my favorite things about the trip was getting to become friends with them, and hear about their experiences, and have them show us around where they’re from.”
In Korea, Baier learned that she needed to take her shoes off before going inside and was pleasantly surprised at how patient people were with her language barrier.
Baier is grateful for the experience and she’s confident it will be vital for her career. “The world is getting smaller,” she said. “In order to be successful in business you’re going to have to be aware of what’s going on in other countries.”
Baier’s parting advice to her peers: Go on a study away trip! “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said. “If you go by yourself you won’t learn nearly as much.”
Former Air Force intelligence officer Andrew Miller has had plenty of adventures, but in J-term 2015 he had the opportunity to add an MBA trip to Peru to the list. Miller enrolled in Business 509: Global Business Perspectives with Assistant Professor Mark Mulder who has a doctorate in Marketing and Consumer Behavior.
Miller knew it would be a great experience. “I really liked Professor Mulder as a teacher,” he said, “and I always wanted to go to Peru–Machu Picchu was on my bucket list.”
Miller and his classmates visited several Peruvian businesses including: Aje Group, a soft drink and beer company; Casa Andina,a hotel chain; and T’ika Urubamba, an Eco lodge.
Miller especially appreciated the eco lodge and its contrast to U.S. culture. “They had seven different gardens for the seven different chakras,” he said.
Miller said hiking Machu Picchu was the trip’s most memorable experience. “We went as high as 13,800 feet,” he said. “People were really loopy.”
One morning, Miller and a few of his peers woke up before the sun to hike the Inca Trail. “It was pouring down rain,” he said. “For me it was really cool because it was the one time where I had Machu Picchu to myself.”
The trip reinforced Miller’s sense of adventure and global perspective. “I learned that I really am a global citizen,” Miller said. “There’s a bigger world out there. One that is in need of some of the things that I can bring.”
Miller said he would be open to working and living in Lima.
“Going to a developing country like Peru is very, very helpful for business students because we can get so caught up in a focus on shareholder value that we forget to focus on human value and what it means to do good,” Miller said, “It’s super refreshing.”
“Given the opportunity, certainly go,” Miller said. “Or make the opportunity to go–whatever it takes.”
Dean Albers-Miller has some advice to share for students who study away:
“The first class tends to be full of international business executives,” Albers-Miller said. “The second class tends to be full of regular human beings who will sit and talk to you about what it’s like to live where they are, what their concerns are, what they worry about, what they think about, what they aspire to.”
“The School of Business degree program is very intensive,” Albers-Miller said. “It takes careful planning. The sooner a student begins planning to study away the easier it is for us to include that in their degree program.”
“Keep your mind open. Be a traveler not a tourist,” Albers-Miller said. “A tourist sits back and lets things happen to them. A traveler is part of the process.”
In January 2016, Dean Albers-Miller will be guiding a marketing class on a study away trip to the Caribbean. She will be teaching the class on two cruise ships while visiting 12 different Ports of Call across the Caribbean islands.
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