Global Initiatives

Doing Business in the Middle East: Mega Projects Management in the United Arab Emirates

Faculty Hassan Ibrahim
Destination Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah
Eligibility Open to 2nd and 3rd year full-time and part-time MBA studentsNo application required to register for AY 2015-16
Estimated costs

Fall 2015: 1 credit of tuition + Program FeeProgram fee covers shared accommodation, in-country ground transportation, some group meals, business visits, applied learning component, and cultural activities for the abroad portion of the program.

Program Fee pending. Will be posted on Networth. Spring 2016: 3 credits of tuition + Education Abroad Fee ($250) + Mandatory International Health Insurance Fee ($39, estimated)

*Not included: international airfare, visa processing if applicable, most meals, personal expenses.

Registration instructions See Networth
Add/drop deadlines October 2; students must email Office of Global Initiatives by to avoid late withdrawal fees.
Credit structure 1 credit earned during Fall semester + 3 credits earned during Spring semester.  Total credits earned = 4 credits.
Dates on campus Tentative: October 4, November 1, and November 22, 2015 and February 7 and February 21, 2016 at the Smith School, College Park campus
Dates abroad January 1 to January 9, 2016
Info session TBA
Questions? Contact the Office of Global Initiatives, ogi@rhsmith.umd.edu

The history of the Middle East dates back to thousands of years, and throughout its history the region has been a major center of world affairs and business. In modern times, the Middle East remains a strategic region for world business and a critical player in international relations. The course aims to provide students with a good understanding of doing business in the Middle East, using the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as an example.While significant stocks of oil give the region economic power, several countries have diversified their economies into services, including banking, finance, trade, tourism, and logistics. UAE has a highly developed economy but has suffered, perhaps disproportionately, as the six-year boom came to an abrupt halt in the 2008/9 world economy.The course will provide a window into how a country copes with change, and the opportunities, and challenges in the Arab world at a time when such understanding is increasingly vital. In addition to providing a general understanding of doing business in the Middle East, the course will address management of projects of major size, which have become associated with the UAE in general and Dubai in particular, such as: Burj Khalifa (the world tallest building), The Palm Islands, and Masdar City.

Applied learning component

An important component of the course is a group assignment, where each team (of 3 students) will research a particular economic sector/industry in the UAE, and propose an investment venture. The project report and presentation should be in the form of a proposal or mini-business plan, intended to capture the attention of venture capitalists, for whom, you are pitching your project for funding. The presentations will be evaluated and the business plan will be critiqued by a venture capitalist with extensive experience in the Middle East.

Skills and knowledge gained

The course aims to:

  1. Prepare students for an increasingly internationally focused workplace.
  2. Provide hands-on experience of conditions affecting industry and country advancement.
  3. Put a framework in place for evaluating threats and opportunities present in a country.
  4. Build cross-cultural competency skills and an initial understanding of some basic language/vocabulary.
  5. Expose students to the diverse cultures of the Middle East.
  6. Provide students with a business compass to navigate business opportunities and challenges in the Middle East in general, and the UAE in particular.
  7. Enable students to expand their network of professional contacts in the government and private sector, which can help them further their careers and introduce new opportunities to US enterprises.

Doing Business in China: Opportunities in China’s Service Sector

Faculty Professor Zhi-Long Chen
Destination Chengdu, China and Hong Kong
Eligibility Open to 2nd and 3rd year full-time and part-time MBA students. No application required to register for AY 2015-16
Estimated costs

Fall 2015: 1 credit of tuition + Program FeeProgram fee covers shared accommodation, in-country ground transportation, some group meals, business visits, applied learning component, and cultural activities for the abroad portion of the program.

Program fee pending and will be posted on Networth. Spring 2016: 3 credits of tuition + Education Abroad Fee ($250) + Mandatory International Health Insurance Fee ($39, estimated)

*Not included: international airfare, airfare between Chengdu and Hong Kong, visa processing if applicable, most meals, personal expenses.

Registration instructions See Networth
Add/drop deadlines October 2; students must email Office of Global Initiatives by to avoid late withdrawal fees.
Credit structure 1 credit earned during Fall semester + 3 credits earned during Spring semester.  Total credits earned = 4 credits.
Dates on campus Tentative: October 4 and November 8 2015, February 7 and February 21, 2016 at the Smith School, College Park campus
Dates abroad January 4 to January 13, 2016
Info session TBA
Questions? Contact the Office of Global Initiatives, ogi@rhsmith.umd.edu

China is now central to the world economy. China is the world’s second largest economy measured by GDP and the world’s largest trading nation measured by the sum of exports and imports. The last three decades of economic reform has made China not only the world’s factory, but also the world’s largest market for numerous products. As such, a basic understanding of the modern China, including its socio-economic, political, and business and management aspects, is imperative for anyone interested in doing business in the global market.As China’s wealth grows, the population looks forward to providing and participating in a wider array and improved level of services. The Chinese government has set its service sector a priority for China’s economic development and has begun to focus more efforts on promoting a service-based economy. The contribution of the service sector to China’s GDP is expected to rise from the current 43% to more than 50% by 2020. China’s rapidly growing service sector provides ample opportunities for multinational companies. This course will focus on China’s service sector. We plan to visit two of the most important cities in China in terms of their role in China’s service sector –Chengdu and Hong Kong. We will visit a diverse set of companies in service industries including IT and software, financial services, logistics, consulting, retail and tourism. Hong Kong has long be viewed as the financial and logistics hub of Asia and has long served as a bridge between mainland China and the outside world. Chengdu is a business hub in mainland China and a rising star in its role in several key service industries in mainland China including IT and software, retail, logistics and transportation, and tourism.

Applied learning component

As a part of the course, students will do two half-day consumer field studies, one in Chengdu and one in Hong Kong. This will consist of interacting with local shoppers in a shopping mall, observing products and prices, consumer behavior, etc. Students will be required to find some common consumer products that are made, packaged, or marketed differently for the China market from the same products sold in the US, and provide insights into why such differences exist. This will help students understand China’s consumers and China’s retail industry.

Skills and knowledge gained

Throughout this course students will:

  1. Experience first-hand the opportunities and challenges in doing business in China’s service sector.
  2. Gain first-hand knowledge about Chinese business environment and China’s culture and traditions.
  3. Explore opportunities and challenges in doing business in China’s service sector, in particular, in the service industries that we will focus on – IT and software, financial, logistics and transportation, retail, consulting, and tourism.
  4. Derive winning strategies that American companies can follow to operate a successful business in China’s service sector.

Asia-Pacific: Handwriting Without Tears Market Research Project

Destinations Exact location TBD. The project will take place in Singapore or Hong Kong.
Faculty UMD project advisor TBD.
Program Dates Term B + January travel + Term C 
During Term B, students will participate in consulting workshops with UMD faculty to prepare for the on-site consulting project and begin working on the project with the client. Meetings prior to travel, dates TBD. 
Dates Abroad Two weeks in January 2016, exact dates TBD. 
During Term C, students will conclude the consulting workshops, finalize project recommendations, and make a final presentation to the client. Meetings following travel, dates TBD. 
Program Cost Four credits of tuition + approximately $2500 program fee, $250 Education Abroad Fee, approximately $39 mandatory international health insurance.
The program will cover all ground expenses. Students are responsible for international airfare and visa if applicable.
CIBER will offer grants to student participants.
Registration and credits Students will be enrolled in Testudo by MPO once students are selected. Students will earn 2 credits during term B + 2 credits during term C. Total credits earned = 4 credits.
Eligibility All 2nd and 3rd year full time and part time MBAs eligible to apply. Eligible candidates will have relevant academic, professional, and soft skills, such as: excellent interpersonal abilities and high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty that will ensure their success in an international, cross-cultural consulting setting.

Company Profile

Handwriting Without Tears is in the Educational Publishing industry. The company was established in the late 1970’s by Jan Olsen as a start-up venture and was formally incorporated and scaled in the 1990’s.  The company continues to be family owned and operated, and Jan Olson remains on as the President and a key member of the product development team. The company’s headquarters are in Cabin John, Maryland with additional offices in Gaithersburg MD, Omaha NE. There are a total of 160 employees, which includes many remote sales staff.

No Tears Learning develops and publishes joyful, developmentally appropriate curricula, learning aids and instructor training for primary school children and their educators.

No Tears Learning currently houses three main product lines:

  1. Handwriting Without Tears: Offers student workbooks, manipulative tools, teachers’ guides and online platforms to help children ages K thru 5th grade learn handwriting.  HWT is the leading handwriting curriculum in the US and is in use by 20% of K-5th grade students nationwide.
  2. Get Set for School: Targets Pre-K students and teaches school readiness and pre-writing skills, as well as basic math and literacy skills.
  3. Keyboarding Without Tears: The newest product line teachers keyboarding, basic computer skills and written production to primary school children through developmentally sequenced, game-based modules.  The KWT line was only recently released (July 2014) but has already seen significant success in the US.

No Tears Learning continues to grow across the US and Canada, but only in late 2014 began investigating new international market opportunities.  India has been the primary target market and learning platform for the No Tears Learning international expansion and marketing, sales and operational setup activities are currently underway after a year of market research which yielded promising results.

Global Consulting Project Goals

  • Investigate market opportunities and feasibility of success for No Tears Learning products in a pre-determined international target market.
  • Understand how key early adopter and potential champion networks are organized, and their influence in our target audience in the new market.
  • Develop actionable market entry recommendations that minimize company investment and risk exposure in the new market.

Global Consulting Project Description

The student consulting team will be asked to investigate international market opportunities, research viability and formulate an effective entry strategy for a pre-determined international target market. 

This international consulting project allows students to translate their classroom learning into the development of real world solutions. Students will work on a 5-person multi-skill collaborative consulting project for No Tear Learning of Bethesda, MD, the top handwriting curriculum publisher in the country.  The final project will make the business case for the company’s potential for success in a pre-assigned international market and propose an implementable entry strategy for the new market.  Students will be expected to look at factors such as target market demographics and network, competitors in the market, operational and policy challenges and the presence of product champions and potential early adopters.

Projects will begin in Term B with remote macro and micro-level research and planning on the target country.  Students will be expected to spend time at company headquarters, familiarizing themselves with company products and operations and establishing stakeholder relationships in the target market.   Students will spend approximately two weeks in-country data gathering, holding stakeholder meetings and conducting product trials during the Winter Break.  Students will return in Term C for a month of wrap up research and recommendation building to be presented to the client. 

Students will be expected to research:

  • Macro-level economic statistics and ease of doing business data;
  • Industry-specific data and the design of primary education system in the target country;
  • Similar products and standards being used, and how products are attained by the end user;
  • Organization and influence of potential early adopter and champion populations.

Students will be given full company access and a support team of executive level staff to support the research. Final recommendations and strategy suggestions should be actionable and minimize the company investment and risk exposure.  The company will provide close support to the student team to make sure recommendations meet these criteria. 

Students who show exceptional skill and interest in the project may have an opportunity to be offered a longer-term position with No Tears Learning.

Application Instructions

The application process is competitive. Enrollment in the MBA Global Consulting Practicum is not guaranteed. Students must apply to be considered in the selection process.

Key Dates: 

  • Application submission opens: April 17
  • Application submission closes: April 24
  • Application review period: April 24 to April 30
  • Offers to students made by: May 4
  • Students accept offers by: May 11

To apply, only between April 17th and April 24th, students must submit a resume and cover letter to OGI at ogi@rhsmith.umd.edu with GLOBAL CONSULTING PRACTICUM in the subject line. The resume, and cover letter will be used to evaluate each student's background and career interests in order to determine which potential consultants are the best fit for the Global Consulting Practicum.

Additional follow-up interviews will be held with a subset of the applicant pool to select students.

The selection process will favor students who have:

  • extensive cross-cultural skills and wish to apply these in a consulting experience
  • past experience in the specific region where the consulting will take place
  • flexibility and adaptability and can handle uncertainty, particularly in a cross-cultural setting
  • previous strategic consulting experience, or experience in an entrepreneurial start-up setting
  • experience (work or academic) in blue ocean product sales and marketing
  • experience (work or academic) in operations strategy and global supply chain planning
  • experience (work or academic) in global strategy development and implementation
  • curiosity, entrepreneurial spirit, interest in emerging economies and private enterprise growth

Regional language skills are not required, although desirable.

The cover letter should address each of the following:

  1. The reasons for your interest in participating in this project and your expectations for personal gain from participation in this project, as well as your future career aspirations.
  2. The skill sets, knowledge and work expertise that you can bring to this particular project. Indicate previous work experience, class/study, internship, etc.
  3. Substantive experience closely related to the specific industry of the project and to the specific region where the overseas consulting will take place, or substantive experience in an entrepreneurial start-up setting, or in strategic growth of small private enterprises.
  4. Experience working and/or studying in cross-cultural settings.

CIBER Global Business Consulting Project

MBAs Solving Real-World Challenges for Global Clients

The Smith Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) collaborates with CIBER offices at George Washington University, San Diego State University, and the University of Miami to offer students the opportunity to participate in a 4-credit international consulting project. These projects are open to all full-time and part-time MBA students. Global Business Consulting (GBC) is a unique opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience in international business and to expand your professional network.

Students will be assigned to teams of five or six MBA students based on their interests and skill sets, and each team will be assigned a faculty advisor. A client in each country will provide an actionable consulting project for which student teams will collaborate to develop and present an innovative, operational plan that will have the most significant impact and best possible outcome for their clients.

GBC participants:

  • Collaborate with students from multiple business, cultural, and university environments to work with corporate executives to solve a business challenge
  • Work virtually first in the US and then on the ground in the host country abroad
  • Develop actionable recommendations and present these to high-level executives

Upon completion of the GBC students will gain:

  • In-depth, first-hand experience providing consulting services in a foreign country
  • Access to companies that recruit students
  • Knowledge of global business practices, consulting skills and frameworks
  • Virtual teaming and cross-cultural communication skills
  • Capacity to deliver innovative, operational plans to clients
  • Increased competitiveness in today’s job market
  • Opportunity to network with MBAs from other universities

GBC Course Structure

  • Early February: Launch Weekend
  • Late-January to mid-March: Independent work
  • Early May: Virtual teamwork begins
  • Last two weeks of May: Work abroad in host country and final presentations to the client

Past GBC projects include:

  • A multinational paint company asked a team to explore pricing opportunities in order to take advantage of rapid growth in India
  • A global leader in oil and gas sought advice on alternative energy businesses to enter in Brazil
  • A US multinational clinical trials company wanted to explore the feasibility of expanding their customer base to include Asian pharma companies in China

Language Requirements

Every member of a project team must have some level of competency in the language of the project country, and at least one member of each team must be fluent in the language by the time the project begins. Team members with limited knowledge of the language are expected to start language classes no later than mid-January. Language courses and tutorials are available to those selected.

Application Procedure

  • Students should submit an online application here and attach a CV by November 13, 2015. Note that online application is hosted through San Diego State University.
  • You will be contacted the week of November 16, 2015 to set up a time for an interview.
  • Applicants will be reviewed through a completive screening process by members from CIBER consortia schools.
  • Selected applicants will be notified by December 4, 2015 and will have until December 18, 2015 to notify the selection committee of their intent to participate on the project. Before accepting the offer, they will have an understanding of the general scope of work and you will know the project location.
  • If accepted, a program deposit of $500 will also be due on December 18, 2015.

Financial Responsibilities

Students interested in the GBC can expect to incur costs of tuition for enrollment in the course, domestic airfare to the Launch Weekend, a program fee of $2500, a $250 Education Abroad fee, approximately $39 for mandatory international health insurance, and international round-trip airfare to host country in May. 

Costs of the in-country hotel, transportation, and meals, will be covered by the client. 

CIBER will offer $1000 scholarships to offset student airfare to/from the host country.

For information, please contact:
Marina Augoustidis
Assistant Director, CIBER
maugoustidis@rhsmith.umd.edu

Jacqueline Kwan: Global Spotlight

 

Nicholas Bondura – First, what led you to Germany and doing all the things you’re doing now?

Jacqueline Kwan – I always thought of Germany very favorably because in high school I had to write a paper on the Greek Economic Crisis and I was really impressed with how Germany managed to stay above water during that entire time. Then when I joined the QUEST program, I had a friend who went to WHU and really emphasized how it was such an academically strong and fun university. That really convinced me to choose Germany. As for why I decided to study abroad as a whole, I did a short-term study abroad program this winter and I had such a great time experiencing the culture and being with a close-knit group of people during those two weeks that I thought I would have to do a semester abroad because there would be no other time for me to integrate myself in a different culture at my leisure.

NB – If you were to introduce yourself to a group of Maryland students with a focus on your Education Abroad experience, how would you describe yourself?

JK - I never pegged myself as particularly creative or flexible, but studying abroad definitely helps with that. Going abroad empowered me and not only have I become increasingly independent, but I have also become better at understanding and working with different opinions and mindsets.

NB – Could you describe your role and responsibilities that you have in your position abroad?

JK - I am president of the Tauschie Government, and Tauschie is just the way to say ‘Exchange Student’ in German. The International Relations Office and Vallendar Integration Program work with me and two other members to ensure that all exchange students do not encounter any issues with the school. We were all elected by our fellow students- around 150 – to plan the end of semester party as a thank you gift for the WHU students. In order to fundraise for that party, we throw Tauschie Tuesdays which are events where different students can showcase foods from other cultures for the German students. We started off with Italy and Spain and we’ve done Japanese with Sushi as well. This week is actually Mexican food, and it’s a great way to interact with the German students.

NB – How has studying abroad changed your career outlook?

JK - It hasn’t really, I always knew I wanted to work abroad because I can speak conversational Mandarin. Getting to know different languages is always a plus because the world is becoming more and more globalized. Studying abroad has made me realize that I could be open to working in an international location, but I want to work in a US-based firm and then travel to other places.

NB – Do you have any lessons that you’ve learned from being abroad?

JK - One small lesson would be to take your time adapting. No one is used to everyone immediately and it can take a while to warm up to different procedures, such as all the shops closing on Sundays or European lunch breaks. That and just be aware of the cultural differences. Things that are really small are sometimes really huge in the end. Here they are really big on independence, which you can say about anywhere, but here they handle it very calmly.

NB – Any stories about stark cultural differences?

JK - I haven’t experienced too many stark cultural differences other than their independence and their working hours. The WHU students’ diligence is constant versus what I am used to back home. Back home during exam time, everyone is very stressed shortly before an exam takes place. Here they get very stressed about memorizing and for weeks ahead of time. All the tests are very heavily based on remembering the information rather than applying it. The way that they process information is very different and challenging.

NB – How do you plan on bringing your experience back and what does a global mindset mean to you?

JK - When I talk to recruiters they’re always very interested in the differences you see between home life and the city you went to. That’s one way I plan on bringing back experiences. Before, I never really had real leadership opportunities, but here I was given a lot of autonomy with how I choose to budget money, plan events, and work with intermediaries and suppliers. It isn’t characteristic of what I plan to do, but it has made me more well-rounded in what I can handle and it has helped my one-on-one negotiation skills. I can bring that skill set back. In terms of a global mindset, I would go back to having flexibility. Being global means you have to know the cultural differences and know how to move through it and leverage that in a beneficial way.

Interview conducted by Nicholas Bondura, Marketing 2015.

India: Facilitating Economic Growth with Tibetan Refugees

Destinations Dharamsala, India
Faculty In collaboration with the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC), the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), and the Office of Global Initiatives
Program Dates During the Spring Semester students will participate in consulting training through the ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit Consulting Program and Program Leader, Pammi Bhullar.
Remote Consulting Project begins February 2nd prior to travel. Consulting Kick-Off session in February, Date TBD.  ChangeTheWorld.org Symposium in April, Date TBD.
Dates abroad March 14th – March 22nd
Program Cost Approximately $2250. Opportunity to apply for scholarships to subsidize cost.
Registration Non-credit opportunity, with for-credit component if requested.

Application

The application process is competitive. Enrollment in the ChangeTheWorld.org Graduate International Consulting Program is not guaranteed. Students must apply to be considered in the selection process. Eligible candidates will have relevant academic, professional, and soft skills, such as: excellent interpersonal abilities and high tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty that will ensure their success in an international, cross-cultural consulting setting.

To apply, students must submit a resume to pbhullar@rhsmith.umd.edu and submit the following application: ChangeTheWorld.org India Application. The application and resume will be used to evaluate each student's background and career interests in order to determine which potential consultants are the best fit for the Program.

Additional follow-up interviews will be held with a subset of the applicant pool to select students.

The selection process will favor:

  • Students who already have extensive cross-cultural skills and wish to apply these in a consulting experience
  • Students with past experience in the specific region where the consulting will take place
  • Students who can demonstrate that they are flexible, adaptable and can handle uncertainty, particularly in a cross-cultural setting

*Language skills of the host country are not required.

Four to five students will be selected. Submit your resume to pbhullar@rhsmith.umd.edu and submit the following application: ChangeTheWorld.org India Application.  Application deadline is Monday, December 1st.  

Description of Project

This Spring, travel to  Dharamsala, India and develop recommendations to improve the overall effectiveness and capacity of Tibetan-owned businesses! In collaboration with the Office of Global Initiaitve (OGI) and the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit consulting program will send a team of graduate students consultants on-site for the first time. While in the US, Students will familiarize themselves with the partner organization, Lha Chariable Trust, create a project scope, and conduct research on Tibetan culture and entrepreneurial best practices. The team will then travel to Dharamsala and work with Tibetan small business owners to identify strengths, challenges, and new opportunities. The team will also synthesize what they learn into recommendations for Lha Charitable Trust to continue to serve these entrepreneurs. This is an excellent opportunity to gain consulting experience, serve an amazing nonprofit and explore a unique cultural environment. Applications will be accepted until December 1st and can be found here. For more information on this exciting non-credit program, email Pammi Bhullar: pbhullar@rhsmith.umd.edu.

The team will be working on the following project:

Project Title:  Increasing Capacity of Tibetan Entrepreneurial Ventures

A team of four to five graduate students will develop recommendations to improve the overall effectiveness and capacity of Tibetan-owned businesses in Dharamsala. As outlined below, part of this project will take place in the US, and part will take place on-the-ground in Dharamsala, India.

This project has three components:

  1. While in the U.S., the student team will meet virtually with their Lha liaison to gain a deeper understanding of Lha’s purpose, goals, and initiatives, and further define the scope of the project.  Students will be assigned 3 to 4 businesses that they will engage with while in India, and will conduct research prior to departing that includes but is not limited to:
    • Tibetan culture
    • Entrepreneurial best practices
    • Product/Service/Trade/Industry-specific market research
    • Virtual Interviews with business owners/employees (if possible)
  2. While in India the student team will work with the businesses to identify strengths, challenges, and new opportunities. The students will consider all aspects of the business and will aim to uncover new pathways for Lha to assist these organizations in reaching their business potential.
  3. Based on this research and assessment the student team will offer recommendations as to how Lha can best position its current services to have the greatest impact on the community, and recommend additional support services/training that would be helpful to local business owners.

Organization Background

Lha Charitable Trust is a grass-roots, 12AA & 80G non-profit and one of the largest Tibetan social work organizations based in Dharamsala, India.  Lha provides vital resources for Tibetan refugees, the local Indian population, and people from the Himalayan regions. Founded in 1997 and registered as a charitable trust by the H.P Indian Government in 2005, Lha has continuously provided vital resources to those in need for over 17 years.

Lha plays a crucial role in facilitating the transition of Tibetan refugees from their homeland to the Indian community by providing long-term rehabilitation and educational resources. Each year programs and projects are adjusted to meet the conditions and needs of the region, yet the commitment remains constant: to help the Tibetan people thrive and prosper in their new home and to preserve their profoundly unique culture. Additionally, Lha offers volunteers and students the opportunity to engage in meaningful community service and social work and seeks to generate an atmosphere of harmony and cooperation within the community by tending to the needs of the impoverished and underprivileged.

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