This summer 105 students traveled to Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, and Spain for short-term abroad courses offered by the Smith School’s Office of Global Initiatives. More than 80 graduate students participated in three courses while 19 undergraduates traveled to Germany and Italy for a course on entrepreneurship.
The Emerging Global Companies course to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, led by Paulo Prochno, proved so popular the Smith School created a second section. With a total of 73 students, the spring and summer sections both filled to capacity.
“The course and trip to Brazil was learning and networking at its finest,” said Aman Abdelkadir, MBA ’13. “We engaged in practical consulting projects with real small businesses while also adapting to the culture, and all with a group of peers that you will make memories and friendships with that will last a lifetime.”
The course featured hands-on consulting opportunities for students with a Brazilian company which expanded their knowledge of and network in this critical economy. The course focused both on local companies and multinational corporations operating in Brazil. Students visited a private equity firm, one of Brazil’s largest telecommunications companies, Latin America’s largest IT company, and the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee. Students also enjoyed city tours of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as well as a visit to Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.
A CEO of one of the companies for which the students consulted praised the class. “It was beyond what I expected. The students were very professional and really understood the essence of my business,” said Sheila Souza, CEO of Brazilidade. “The report [the students wrote] will help me a lot in decision making. Working with the University of Maryland was a very positive experience - for me it made a huge difference!”
Charles Olson took 29 MBA – including 11 EMBA – students to Frankfurt and Koblenz, Germany and Madrid, Spain for Doing Business in the Euro Zone. The course analyzed European economies, and the possible solutions to strengthen the region. The class examined austerity measures, labor laws, and labor force flexibility. Students attended special lectures by faculty at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management – an official partner of the Smith School for more than a decade. Professor Olson also arranged site visits to Deutsche Bank, European Central Bank, Grupo Compass, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Telefonica.
Zhi-Long Chen led 21 MBA students to Beijing and Shanghai for the Doing Business in China: China in 2013 and Beyond - Challenges and Opportunities course. This class focused on China's challenges and opportunities as it undergoes leadership transition, changing demographics, and questions of wealth distribution.
“Doing Business in China was a cultural and business experience unparalleled in the MBA program. Professor Chen is attentive and a heartfelt guide, who makes this course a pleasure,” said Edward Chester, MBA ’14.
The course examined China's urbanization and energy sourcing as well as China’s global impact. Students visited 3M, General Motors, Lenovo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Yum! Brands, as well as Chinese real estate and petroleum companies. In addition to business visits, the class visited cultural attractions such as Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Great Wall.
“It was an eye-opening trip even for myself,” said Professor Chen. “I grew up in China and go back often. But this trip enabled me to look at China from a different angle, that is, from an angle of multinational firms operating in China. China has become the number one market for some of the biggest multinational firms. Thus, for business students, it is imperative to understand the China market and Chinese consumers. This trip enabled all the participants to gain first-hand knowledge about China's business opportunities and challenges.”
Finally, the Doing Business in Germany and Italy: European Entrepreneurship, led by Oliver Schlake, attracted 19 undergraduates for travel to Rome and Munich. This course provided insight into the entrepreneurial and business cultures of Italy and Germany. The Munich portion of the trip included visits to the BMW production facility and the Bavarian Economic Development agency. The course also featured an interactive workshop with German entrepreneurship students from the Technical University of Munich – an activity that many students rated as the highlight of the class. A native of Germany, Professor Schlake offered many insider tips on what students should do – and eat – in Munich. For cultural excursions, students visited the Alps and world-famous Neuschwanstein castle.
“Professor Schlake truly made my study abroad experience memorable. I learned more about entrepreneurship than I could have ever imagined,” said Justin Hong ’13. “I loved the company visit to Stylight, a fashion entrepreneurship website that brings together the fashion community across nine European countries. Professor Schlake not only introduced me to Stylight, but even put me in contact with the company founder.”