February 27, 2012

Jeanette Grider

MBA Students Gain Global Perspective

While most of the SLU community was still enjoying post-holiday relaxation and making New Year's resolutions, students from the Full-Time MBA program at the John Cook School of Business were headed to Hong Kong for a global business learning experience.

MBA students (from left) Brent Jennings, Katie Maurer, Eric Hollensbe, Kristina Schwedtmann, Scott Pilkington, Anna Vitale, Katalin Horvath, Greg Brown visit Tai Long Wan Beach near Hong Kong.

The 43 students were accompanied by finance professor Neil Seitz, Ph.D., who teaches the classroom component of a study abroad course required for completion of their MBA, and Susan Hartmann, Associate Director of Master's Programs at the business school.

The course includes a mixture of classroom discussion about Asia-focused business case studies, guest speakers and visits around the Hong Kong business community.

The speakers, all business people working in Hong Kong, included two SLU MBA alumni who discussed their experiences living and working in Asia.

Sara Bosco, president of Asia-Pacific operations for Emerson, gave a presentation covering the company's history in the Asian market and its current endeavors.

A visit to St. Louis based Emerson's Shenzhen factory. Front Row: Dr. Neil Seitz, Mike Davis, Kristina Schwedtmann, Robert Kerns, Nate Lischwe, Emerson representative. Second Row: Terry Link, Adam Pasch, Steve Stratmann and Kyle Brown.

The class also visited many business operations including the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, a Toy and Games Trade Fair and an Emerson factory in Shenzhen.

In addition, the students were responsible for gathering research for team projects that were determined prior to their arrival in Hong Kong. One team researched how they would open a chain of coffee shops in the bustling city.

Seitz, who has been a part of the trip for three years, talked about the value to students of the combined academic, cultural and up-close observation of global business in one of the world's largest and most vibrant cities.

"Classes, guest speakers, and visits are all preparation for the core of the course: developing contacts, conducting interviews, and collecting data on the ground to develop a plan for bringing a specific business to Hong Kong. The skills developed in this process are invaluable."

Hartmann, who is also a graduate of the program, talked about why Hong Kong is an ideal destination for the study-abroad trip.

"From a business perspective, it is a financial hub and the gateway to Asia," Hartmann said. "Language is not a significant barrier since there is ample signage in English, and public transportation is easily accessible and affordable."

Laurie Hedgpeth, Christine Mya San, Vicky Kullavanijaya and Katalin Horvath take in the Hong Kong Toys and Games Trade Fair.

There were no class obligations on the weekend which gave students time for side trips.

Macau was a popular destination since it is only a one-hour boat ride from Hong Kong. One group went hiking in the New Territories located north of the city and easily reachable by train and bus.

Other students planned destination vacations to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bali and mainland China either before or after the study abroad session.

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