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OHIO MBA students experience global business during trip abroad

Wednesday, October 30 2019 11:45am

MBA students gain hands-on, international business training through global consulting projects.

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By Mishalaina Coles

Each year, students in Ohio University’s One-Year MBA program cap off their year with a two-week trip abroad. As the capstone for the program, the international trip is a major component of the MBA experience, allowing the students to not only be immersed in a new place around the globe but also to get hands-on experience in international business by completing consulting projects for real-world clients.

In June, the One-Year MBA Class of 2019 traveled to Venice, Italy, where they worked with the Ronal Group, a luxury wheel manufacturing company. Their journey then took them to Alkmaar, Netherlands, to work with AZ Alkmaar, a professional soccer team.

Former One-Year MBA program director and chair of OHIO’s College of Business (COB) management department, Dr. Ashley Metcalf, describes the client projects as “hackathon” style. Students break up into teams and work on the projects for a few days before presenting to the client’s executive leadership. After presentations, the leadership then picks a winning team’s idea. Each project is focused on different business functions such as marketing, finance, human resources, supply chain, social media, and operations.

Quintin Lash, ’19 MBA graduate and current OHIO Master of Sports Administration (MSA) student, says that “the time constraints [of the projects] challenged us, but every group rose to the occasion and presented recommendations that can really be applied to the companies.”

In addition to the hard work the MBA students put in for their client projects, it’s also important that students are prepared to travel to another country. For many students, the international trip is their first time outside of the United States. Lash, for example, hadn’t travelled internationally before, so he relied on his classmates for tips and advice, as well cultural immersion training programs. On the flip side, Nicholas Fryman, '19 MBA graduate, had travelled outside of the country before, and he found it important to listen to professors who previously went on the international trip.

But, the trip isn’t designed strictly for work. It’s also meant to allow students to discover a good balance between work and play, while also continuing to foster a sense of community within the MBA class. Outside of the client work, there are several opportunities to become immersed in the countries’ cultures by visiting popular landmarks, taking tours, and exploring the local areas. In each city, the class gathers at the end of the day for dinner for an opportunity to relax from busyness of traveling and consulting.

And as the planning of the 2019-2020 MBA international trip is kicked off, there is a new leader at the helm. Dr. Ike Uzuegbunam is the new program director of the One-Year MBA program, and he hopes to continue the strong sense of community throughout the MBA class as the year goes on and during the next international trip in June 2020.

Uzuegbunam strongly believes in the idea that “you can do big things when you work with others.” Because of this, he’s investigating different ways to get students to develop closer friendships rather than just working relationships they experience during group projects. He hopes to do this by connecting students to different fun and interesting events in not only Athens but other surrounding southeastern Ohio locations.

Uzuegbunam is eager for the upcoming international trip. He says that this year’s trip will be slightly different but just as interesting as previous trips. The MBA Class of 2020 will do their consulting projects with clients in Hungary and Italy.

For the MBA students, the international trip is something to look forward to all year long, but it’s also a lot to process. Fryman and Lash offer some advice for current and future MBA students. Both believe that it’s important to fully immerse yourself in the experience and to take advantage of the time. Lash finds it important to not only maximize the free time you have to explore, but also the time spent working.

Fryman and Lash also said that traveling abroad on this trip allowed them to develop both professionally and personally.

“Business is an international language,” said Fryman. Students who attend the trip are able to put meaning to what they’ve learned in their courses not only domestically, but also internationally. Proving the point that business is indeed an international language.