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How the College of Business Exchange Program changed this Business Bobcat’s perspective (and her major)

Tuesday, February 16 2016 12:00am

Ohio University’s College of Business aims to provide students with a transformational learning experience through programs like the College of Business Exchange Program, Global Consulting Program, and other learning experiences where students get to apply what they’ve learned.

By Brianna Wilson

Before participating in the College of Business Exchange Program at Institut Químic de Sarrià at Universitat Ramon Llulll (IQS) in Barcelona, Spain, Maria Figueroa ’17, thought she knew a considerable amount about international affairs.

Originally from Lima, Peru, Figueroa had always been passionate about international business and travel. Her time at Ohio University’s College of Business only reinforced that passion, through the international business certificate and student organizations such as International Business Society and AIESEC.

Though Figueroa knew she wanted to incorporate these passions into her career, it wasn’t until a certain class at IQS that she realized how she could: international marketing.  

“It was my favorite class [at IQS],” she said. “Professor Gifra changed my perspective on marketing completely, and helped me realize how marketing is really just about people, and that’s what interests me most.”

Figueroa explained that Gifra taught the first half of each class through imagery. “For example, he would show us a map that compared the GDP [gross domestic product] by country; he tried to help us develop a global view of everything from a country’s ecological footprint to what cars are produced where,” she said. “Then the second part of class would be more marketing-related.” 

Gifra taught students to adopt an international marketing perspective through three main projects throughout the semester, which built upon each other.

“Going into the second project, I realized I enjoyed researching companies and brainstorming how they could improve,” said Figueroa. “It was fun to see how my ideas could make a positive impact.”  

The third—and most difficult—project required teams of students to choose a company with operations in one or two countries, and provide them with an expansion recommendation and marketing plan.

Figueroa’s team chose to recommend that Eataly, an Italian-based open-air market and restaurant with secondary locations in Chicago and New York, expand into Stockholm, Sweden.

“We conducted significant research, and found there was a definite demand for Italian food in Sweden, especially in Stockholm,” Figueroa explained.

In Italy, Eataly is adorned with visual aids, but the group recommended a less frilly, and design for the Swedish location. “Our research indicated that Swedes are incredibly practical, so we recommended a cleaner, more functional look and feel for the new space, and for the marketing materials,” she explained.

Figueroa learned a lot during her time abroad—for instance, that siesta is “actually a thing” and “really awesome”—but her most important lesson? How passionate she is about marketing.

“I switched my major [to marketing] as soon as I got back to Athens,” Figueroa said. “I know it’s the right career for me, and am excited to learn more about international marketing in particular.”

About the Student Exchange Program

The student exchange program is an exclusive, business-focused arrangement with partner universities École Supérieure de Commerce in Dijon, France and Institut Químic de Sarrià at Universitat Ramon Llulll in Barcelona, Spain. Run by the Center for International Business, it allows the College’s top students to experience academics, culture, and business outside of the U.S. 

Find out more about the program online.