MBA students go to Shanghai as part of educational curriculum

As a part of their curriculum, all graduate students from the Smeal College of Business are required to go abroad during spring break for an intensive international business experience.

Terrence Guay, clinical associate professor of international business, is one of four professors to lead the trip. This year, the MBA students had the choice of going to China, India, South Africa, or the Czech Republic. Guay led the group that traveled to Shanghai, China.

“It is a way to give MBA students a way to see and experience more than just U.S. businesses. I wish this could be a requirement for undergraduate business students as well,” said Guay.

Guay chose to go to Shanghai because of China’s recent economic growth and financial power. Shanghai is also the business center of China and a pivotal global business city. He wanted the students to see companies from diverse industries. Some of the companies and organizations they visited during their trip included Goodyear, HSBC, Disney, Pennsylvania Trade Office, National Public Radio, Deloitte, Cinic, Port of Shanghai, and the U.S. Consulate. Guay had access to the companies because of alumni connections and previous visits to Shanghai.

While the MBA students were in Shanghai, they learned about the opportunities and challenges of doing business in an international company. They studied company operations, current strategies, and factors such as culture and new competition. The students observed that China is undergoing rapid change that makes its market extremely unpredictable.

“China’s market is growing at a rate of 12 percent a year. If you’re late (entering the market) you’re losing money," Guay said.

Since China’s economy is growing so fast, Guay explained that many companies there have a hard time finding qualified workers with college degrees. This is one of the reasons why Smeal’s MBA curriculum has the global immersion program for their students. As the economy becomes more globalized, it is important for business students to understand how international business works.

As Guay says, “You can’t be successful today without international business.”

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Last Updated April 19, 2011