Carroll School of Management faculty members and MBA students outside the Forbidden City in China during the International Management Experience tour of Asia in May. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Stoller)
"Classroom discussions tend either to be lecture-based or case study-oriented," said Lect. Gregory Stoller (CSOM). "We want to let the students experience international business as close as they can get - a chance to 'kick the academic tires,' if you will."
The program broke new ground this past May when 21 CGSOM students visited Vietnam as part of a 17-day tour of Asia, the first time that country was included in the IME itinerary. Other stops on the spring tour included Thailand, China and Japan.
"Vietnam was one of the highest rated stops on the trip," according to Stoller, who organized the visit along with Asst. Prof. John Gallaugher, his colleague in the Operations and Strategic Management Department. "It's an emerging market that is growing at a pretty good clip with a high probability of success."
Stoller said the Vietnam economy is filled with dichotomies, which makes it an interesting study for graduate business students. "It is very much a Communist country, but surprisingly pro-Western, with businessmen eager to learn, cooperate and continue to move the economy in the right direction," he said.
While in Vietnam, the CGSOM students visited with executives of Proctor & Gamble Vietnam, IDG Vietnam, the US Commercial Service and Glass Egg Digital Media Co., a manufacturer of software for children's computer games.
The students also had the opportunity to tour Saigon during their four day visit, as well as to view the infamous CuChi Tunnel system built during the wars against France and the United States, and the country's War Remnants Museum.
"That especially gave us Vietnam's perspective on the war," said Stoller. "It was a humbling experience for our generation, a very somber day."
The group's visit to Thailand included meetings with executives from Pepsi/Frito-Lay-Thailand, the US Embassy, Asahi Glass Corp., a Japanese firm that has expanded to that nation, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Corp., an American pharmaceutical giant that has established a manufacturing plant in the city of Bang Phlee.
In China, the students visited the Beijing Foreign Investment Service Center, an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, and three American firms currently operating in that country, including Sammy's Deli, a start-up food service chain. The students also briefly attended the High-Tech Industries Week and Sci-Tech Expo tradeshow.
In Japan, the MBA students met with officials of NTT DoCoMo, the second largest telecommunications firm in the world, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, a recently reorganized Japanese government bureau.
Several Boston College MBA graduates currently working in Japan hosted a reception for the group in Tokyo.
Students found the trip to be a valuable social and educational experience. Ryan Donovan '04, a part-time MBA student, said "Only once in a lifetime will I have had the opportunity to breathe the air of the Vietnamese jungle, negotiate for goods at the floating market in Thailand, walk through the hutongs of Beijing and live the customs of northern Japan. IME Asia is one of the most invaluable experiences of my lifetime."
Interviewed by the Thai newspaper The Nation, Shana Pinti '03 said, "I used to focus only on the US market. This trip widened my perception."
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