From China to Rwanda and numerous places in between, students at the University of Maryland apply their classroom learning in real-world settings to provide valuable feedback to companies seeking to develop their global reach. Through experiential learning programs such as consulting projects offered by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Maryland, undergraduate and graduate students from across the university and throughout the state came together in spring 2017 to consult for local and international businesses. These projects gave businesses the opportunity to leverage top business school talent to address international business challenges through the programs below:
MBA Global Consulting Program
Four MBA students at the Robert H. Smith School of Business worked with USPET, an American-Chinese company, to create an e-commerce platform for Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises seeking to enter the U.S. market to sell goods and services online. The students travelled with David Ashley, a Smith School faculty member in the marketing department, to review USPET’s current online presence and provide recommendations on website re-design, assess service providers, and conduct a cost/benefit analysis of their suggested re-design.
MBA students provided consulting services for USPET and visited Smith School alumni while in Shanghai. They met with Chinese stakeholders who are interested in entering the American e-commerce market and other business opportunities between the U.S. and China.
MBA International Development Consulting
In partnership with the UMD School of Public Health and UMD at Baltimore School of Law, two Smith School MBAs worked with five students from the aforementioned schools to produce recommendations for a business model, corporate governance structure, and water quality monitoring process to address challenges for an off grid community for the Arava Environmental Institute in Israel in January 2017.
MBA Maryland Global Export Consulting Program
A team of four Smith School MBA students conducted in-country research in Rwanda as part of the Maryland Global Export Consulting Program. The purpose of the research was to evaluate the financial viability and ROI of solar home designs vs. solar water heating vs. solar farms. The group analyzed the ease of working with the Rwandan government to pursue energy initiatives, financing options available for energy products, and commercial vs. residential uses of energy.
The overall project took six months and the MBA students working on the project came with varying backgrounds and levels of experience. “One of the biggest benefits of the project was not just having a short, seven-week class with someone, but having a six-month interaction with them to solve a problem,” said Andrew Joliet, a part-time MBA student at the Smith School. Joliet viewed the experience as valuable since he could get consulting experience even with a full-time job: “You’re working with a real client who has a real problem and you’re coming up with a real solution to that problem.”
MBA consulting team meets with Rwandan stakeholders to research solar energy possibilities in Kigali.
Undergraduate Maryland Global Export Consulting Program
Also, through the Maryland Global Export Consulting Program, 12 undergraduate students worked in two teams to conduct a detailed market analysis of the aviation landscape in Morocco and Mexico for a Maryland-based pilot training company looking to increase their international trainee program. The team conducted a site visit at Trident in Easton, Md., to assess the potential for the company to expand to international markets and provided potential solutions at the conclusion of the program.
Colin Fischer, special programs manager and pilot at Trident Aircraft, said that his company understands airplanes really well, but they wanted assistance on the business-side in order to get into international markets. “This is where the Smith School really came in because these are students who understand how to go about that and they have a good understanding of the global economy,” said Fischer. “By leveraging that, we’re very pleased with the result.”
Undergraduate students from the Smith School visited Trident Aircraft on Friday, February 17, for a site visit and discussion with company employees.
Additionally, through the same program, five undergraduates provided export consulting for Konsyl Pharmaceuticals, a Maryland-based company seeking to develop their global strategy. Kim Vaccari, sales operations manager at Konsyl, gave an update at the conclusion of the project: “We’ll use the recommendations from the students in expanding our sales abroad and of course, as a manufacturing company, that would have an immediate impact on the manufacturing business. We would likely need to hire new staff, possibly expand our facilities – not just production staff but in quality assurance, our lab staff, sales and marketing staff – and throughout the company there would be an impact. Of course, more sales for us would mean more income for the state of Maryland.”
Smith students meet with Konsyl employees to tour the facility and discuss business processes.
Teams visited company headquarters this spring to understand the processes of each company and final presentations for all four projects were presented to respective clients in May. To find out more about the Maryland Global Export Consulting Program and other consulting projects available for students through CIBER, visit www.rhsmith.umd.edu/ciber.
This program is sponsored in part by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.