Tuesday, June 26, 2007
MBA students tour Europe to learn about global business
|Frank Cardimen and six students traveled to Europe to meet with business leaders, including those from Harley-Davidson.|
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
The students in Frank Cardimen’s Management 681 class come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have experience in the business world. Some are full-time students pursuing their degrees before jumping into the corporate world. They all came together for a trip that took them to Germany, France and the United Kingdom to learn not only from each other, but from global business leaders. On Wednesday, June 20, the group of students reunited to relive their experiences and share their journey across the ocean.
“We had the opportunity to learn and absorb information in executive board rooms from people who are making multi-billion dollar decisions every day,” said student Bryan Smith.
The class has been held six times in the past, with about 10 students participating each time. This year, with only six students able to participate, there was concern that the trip wouldn’t happen. Cardimen, with pressure from the students who wanted to go, worked with leaders in the School of Business Administration and got the go-ahead to make the trip.
The class began April 14, even before the spring term commenced. The students worked on group presentations about the history of the organizations they would be visiting, met with local guest speakers, read about international business and worked through a case study before traveling to Europe.
From May 28 through June 10, the six students, along with Cardimen, met with corporate leaders from Amgen, Siemens, Freescale Semiconductors, Daimler, Lorenz Klipfel Winery, U.S. Embassy, World Bank, the Pasteur Institute, AT&T’s European Headquarters, Harley-Davidson Europe and GKN.
“We prepared so hard for this trip. The professor did a phenomenal job getting ths trip together. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I never would have had the opportunity to have such a great tour guide and meet so many key contacts,” said Francesca Vitale, a student in the class.
Smith, who was elected by the class to summarize the trip, said the group learned about things like the challenges of conducting business in the automotive arena; how the French are denying globalization; local cultures; using customer surveys in customer service; branding strategies; ethical and environmental issues and maximizing profitability.
“These are things you see, you feel, you do, and that’s hard to glean from a text,” Smith said.
While in Europe, the group squeezed in a number of optional sightseeing opportunities. They saw places like the Dachau Memorial, European Parliament, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Chateau du Versaille, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, Wimbledon, Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge, St. Martin’s Church and Big Ben.
“To really understand what’s going on in Europe, you have to have some history,” Cardimen said.
Each year the class is held, the students develop a nickname for their team. This year’s team named themselves OU Scholars: Forever Seven. The name was taken from a number of sources. The bus they rode on initially was a double-decker team bus from a successful soccer team in Germany. The side said “Forever a Team.” Building on that, the group had many reasons to consider the number seven. First, the year is 2007. Second, they visited seven cities to meet with business contacts. There were seven travelers. Finally, they were sitting at table seven at a restaurant the final night in Europe.
The students agreed that the opportunity to travel to Europe provided them with a new look at global business and five new friends.
“The class allows Oakland University to differentiate itself from other business schools and provides an avenue for Oakland University students to differentiate themselves,” Smith said.
The class was previously held in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005 and this year. Cardimen plans to hold a golf outing this fall for members of the previous classes.
For more information on the MBA program and course offerings, visit the School of Business Administration Web site.