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Bentornati! Welcome back MBA students

Friday, June 3 2016 12:00am

Master of Business Administration students return from Italy with international consulting experience.

By Mackenzie O'Dwyer

Master of Business Administration students traveled to Ancona, Italy where they worked in cross-cultural consulting teams with students from the Master’s program at the Università Politecnica delle Marche. The teams were tasked with developing process improvement recommendations for six Italian clients: a task they completed in only three days.

“It was an intense three days,” said Harrison Hightower, ’16 MBA graduate. “We conducted preliminary market research throughout the semester to give us a head start, but everything had to come together during the few days that we were in Italy. So, we took the bull by the horns and put in our best work.”

The students used Adobe Connect, web conference software, to collaborate with their Italian colleagues throughout the semester. In doing so, each team developed market analysis reports, including insight on international supply chains, partnerships, and competition. When the MBA cohort arrived in Italy, the teams were given the opportunity to meet with their client and tour the manufacturing plants. After receiving the information needed to finish their proposals, the teams were ready to present their business solutions.

“Our client said our team’s recommendations were ideas they had previously considered, but it was our presentation that solidified their decision to move forward with these improvements,” said Elizabeth Rosenfeld, ’16 MBA graduate. “To hear that our ideas would be used by the client was incredible.” 

The students received positive feedback on their work, and many of the clients intend on using their recommendations. This intercultural experience transformed the students both personally and professionally.

“I was impressed by the way our students handled unfamiliar business circumstances and learned from cultural differences,” said Tanya Barnett, faculty director of the MBA program. “This experience broadened their world view and better equipped them for business in a global marketplace.” 

The students also experienced the Italian culture by touring the cities of Milan and Bologna, attending the Opera at La Scala Theatre, and even cheering on the teams in the Internazionale FC vs. Udinese Calcio soccer game. Francesco Marini, '17 MBA/MSA student, helped coordinate these activities for his cohort. 

"Given the affection to my home country, it was a pleasure to help with the planning of this amazing trip," said Marini. "Coordinating the activities was intense at times, but seeing the excitement of my classmates while cheering with the fans at the soccer game in Milan or enjoying the amazing food while strolling in the picturesque streets of Bologna was definitely worth it."

Before leaving Italy, everyone gathered to spend their last evening at a banquet to celebrate their accomplishments and new friendships.

“My favorite part about the MBA trip was being able to interact with peers from the U.S. and Italy. We met awesome, intelligent and dedicated people in Italy,” said Hightower. “After the hard work was done, I can happily say we’re classmates and friends.”