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Executive MBA Students Study Abroad in China

By Bryana Wall

Executive MBA students in China

With a recent study abroad trip to China, USF's Executive MBA students came back with more than photos and souvenirs – They returned with a better understanding of what it takes to succeed in international business.

The USF Executive MBA program is designed for mid- and senior-level managers, executives, and entrepreneurs. These students are business owners and business leaders across the Tampa Bay area. The ten day trip, which is a requirement of the Executive MBA degree, included company tours and guest speakers, as well as some sightseeing.

"Asia is the emerging market," Executive MBA Director Irene Hurst said. "Economically it is very powerful. China's economy impacts the U.S. and world economies and industries in major ways."

Hurst said students witnessed firsthand the economic growth taking place in China as well as the cultural differences that affect the way corporations conduct business. For several students, this was their first time traveling outside of the United States.

Students toured a variety of companies and spoke with mid- to executive-level business leaders like themselves about the economic, political and cultural factors that influence global business opportunities and practices.

For example, Adnan Seferagic, a technical consultant at Green Mountain Semiconductor, Inc, discovered that in China they're looking at more than just portfolio when entering into a business relationship. In China, companies see individuals as people outside of their role within the corporation.

"In America even résumés are results-oriented. However, Chinese companies focus on much more than results," he said. "Who you are as a person, aside from being the best professionally, matters very much in China and I think it has to do with a strong cultural bond to family."

Students visited high-tech facilities of companies such as Jabil, a multinational manufacturing and supply chain management company based in St. Petersburg, and Nielsen, a global information management company.

"It was extremely well managed and well operated," Executive MBA student Jim Childers said. "Our company tours taught me the challenges and requirements necessary to operate in China."

When they were not receiving information from the leaders of multinational corporations, the students enjoyed visiting popular destinations such as the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, Jade Buddha Temple, and the Forbidden City. They also enjoyed dining out and exploring new food options including cooked insects at the night market in Beijing. At one pizza place the students left their mark by drawing the USF logo on the ceiling and wall next to several other well-known schools (with permission!).