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MARCH 2010        RSSPrint PrintEller College on Facebook FacebookPrint Twitter     

Eller MBAs Visit Emerging Markets All Over the Globe

Eller MBA students in South Africa.
Eller MBA students in South Africa.

“The beauty of international travel is that it opens eyes and minds to better understand that, despite politics and culture, we’re more similar than we think,” says Gabby Cervantes, MBA ’10. “By learning first-hand about the everyday life of those who inhabit a country, we can make better decisions as future business leaders and as citizens of the world.”

Cervantes and Eller MBAs across programs — Full-Time, Evening, and Executive — all had the opportunity to travel abroad in January. Eller faculty and staff led trips to South Africa, Asia, and South America not just to broaden horizons through the experience of other cultures, but also to gain insight into the challenges of conducting business in emerging marketplaces.

“Like the U.S., China is undergoing economic reform,” says Cervantes, who traveled to the country with her Evening MBA cohort. “Yet, China’s transformation is taking place at lightning speed. One only needs to look out the hotel window to see 24/7 construction of a new mega building. The uber-modern buildings of the new China, particularly those of Shanghai, decorate the landscape like pieces of art.”

After leaving Shanghai, the Evening MBA cohort visited Ho Chi Mihn City in Vietnam.

“As one of many young Vietnamese-Americans born after the war, I know what happened and have my own beliefs and views based on what I have been told by my parents and from history class,” says Phiyen Nguyen, MBA ’10. “Still, being where the war was fought was a moving experience and made all of the history become real to me.”

The experience inspired Nguyen to consider how she might play a role in the country’s growth. “Being able to see the modernity and successful businesses in Beijing and Shanghai made me excited for all of the possibilities that are in store for Vietnam if it continues to increase international trade and openness,” she says. “Despite the countries having similar government structures and forming similar policies to spur economic growth, I remember what Dave Averne, the speaker at U.S. Commercial Service, said to us: ‘Vietnam should be the

Eller MBA students take a side horseback trip at
Eller MBA students take a side horseback trip at
Lodge Andino in Chile.

Another Evening MBA student, Matt Caldwell (MBA ’10), chose the South Africa trip, in part, he says, because he was interested in the additional social challenges that compound South Africa’s position as a developing economic environment. “South African culture has changed so significantly with the end of apartheid in 1994,” he says. “I was interested to know how the people cope with becoming a more rapidly developing and, hopefully, unified nation after many years of deep segregation.”

As part of the trip, the class visited Ogilvy and Mather, the firm behind marketing efforts for the FIFA World Cup. Caldwell says the executives talked about other Ogilvy and Mather campaigns, some of which aired in U.S. markets. “Although the Ogilvy and Mather South Africa division was not directly involved with this particular commercial, they are part of a company that had a global presence,” says Caldwell. “The fact that their South African division won the bid to market the World Cup tells you that South Africa has the talent to compete in the world marketplace. This meeting really drove that point home for me.”    

Read more thoughts from Gabby Cervantes and Phiyen Nguyen on blog entries that they wrote about their trip. You can also read about the Eller MBA trips to Brazil and Argentina on the Eller MBA South America blog.

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