Smeal student represents Penn State at student business forum in Bangkok

Penn State Smeal College of Business student Katie Hartman, a junior in the Integrated Master of Accounting Program, spent three days in Bangkok last month as the Penn State representative at the Deloitte International Student Business Forum.

The International Student Business Forum brings together some of the brightest students to develop their multicultural leadership and business skills. A total of 67 students from around the world, representing 24 countries, attended the forum — out of 300 U.S. applicants, only 10 were chosen to make the trip.

“We were looking specifically for team players who are open to collaboration and working in a group setting,” said Eliza Swiderski, northeast talent scout manager in talent acquisition for Deloitte Services LP. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work hand-in-hand with international students who may have different perspectives on learning and solving problems.”

Upon arrival, the participants took a day to experience the cultural sights and sounds of Bangkok and meet their fellow students, but on day two it was down to business. The students were divided into cross-cultural teams to address a complex business case provided by Deloitte, and each team had two Deloitte professionals assigned as coaches.

“We were looking specifically for team players who are open to collaboration and working in a group setting,” said Eliza Swiderski, northeast talent scout manager in talent acquisition for Deloitte Services LP. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work hand-in-hand with international students who may have different perspectives on learning and solving problems.”

“At Deloitte, we believe that providing students with global and cross-cultural learning experiences early in their college careers is important to helping them develop their skills and prepare for a career in professional services,” said Diane Borhani, talent director and campus recruiting leader at Deloitte.

Each team was tasked with a business case that focused on pitching a specific location to host the Summer Olympics. Hartman’s teammates were from South Africa, Norway, Malaysia and Thailand, and the team was assigned two Deloitte professional coaches: one from China and one from Sweden.

“Deloitte sponsors the Olympics, so we got to hear them talk a lot about the business side of the event,” said Hartman. “Crafting the pitch was extremely complex because we had to think of everything, from the opening ceremonies to the number of venues to put up to transportation logistics and everything in between.”

“I learned that people in the U.S. tend to share various traits that I didn’t expect would be different elsewhere,” said Hartman. “I really learned a lot about cross-cultural group dynamics and how groups can work together.”

Though the forum participants were predominantly accounting and finance majors, the case presentations required the incorporation of multiple disciplines for a well-rounded pitch.

“As an accounting student, the marketing aspects were particularly challenging for me,” said Hartman. “Deloitte is looking for well-rounded students that can incorporate all subjects and interact with people from other cultures.”

Hartman said she learned a lot by working with students from other cultures and backgrounds, and learned even more about how different personality styles can be across cultures.

“I learned that people in the U.S. tend to share various traits that I didn’t expect would be different elsewhere,” said Hartman. “I really learned a lot about cross-cultural group dynamics and how groups can work together.”

Last Updated September 10, 2013