Through a winter International Business course, MBA students learned about the economic, legal, political and cultural environment of doing business in Vietnam and Singapore.
Fifteen Elon MBA students traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Singapore, Jan. 10-19 as part of the International Business course led by Robert Moorman, the Frank S. Holt Jr. Professor of Business Leadership, and Brittany Mercado, assistant professor of management.
The MBA students examined the contrasts between the two cities and learned about the differences in their economic environments through company and cultural site visits. Additionally, teams completed preparatory business analyses prior to their departure to gain a detailed background understanding of the companies they visited. This course helped students enhance their understanding of complex economic, legal, political, and cultural issues involved in conducting business abroad.
“We had the incredible opportunity to meet with and tour a number of different businesses in varied industries including tech, manufacturing, consulting, and not-for-profit charities,” said Amanda Parrish, divisional chief human resources officer for Duke Health. “We experienced different cultures, tasted new foods, and had great conversations with locals. The experience challenged my thinking and opened my mind to new perspectives, far exceeding my expectations in many ways.”
In Ho Chi Minh City, the group gained a sense of the challenges developing countries face in bridging the gap between rich and poor and in balancing rapid urbanization and industrialization with a traditional rural agrarian economic base. While there, students visited Mekong Delta to see how local farmers live, as well as the Reunification Palace, and the War Remnants Museum.
Students visited Swiss Post Solutions where they met with CEO Anatolijus Fouracre, who discussed why Vietnam is an attractive IT offshoring destination. Students learned how Vietnam’s geographical location, young and abundant workforce, and stable government all create fitting conditions to develop business process outsourcing.
The group also visited Theodore Alexander, one of the leading manufactures of fine furniture, and VF Corporation, a worldwide apparel and footwear company, where they got to tour one of its manufacturing factories.
The students’ experience in Singapore offered a contrast to what they saw in Vietnam. They learned of the challenges the developed city-state faces to maintain and grow its mature economy amid changing demands due to globalization. The students visited EY and Cisco, as well as the U.S. Embassy where they discussed export and import trade policies.
Additionally, students volunteered at Willing Hearts, which allowed them to learn about the lives of the less-fortunate people living in one of the richest cities in the world.
“Our travel abroad experience to Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore was a unique glimpse into the challenges and opportunities that companies are facing in two countries at vastly different stages of economic development.”
“Our travel abroad experience to Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore was a unique glimpse into the challenges and opportunities that companies are facing in two countries at vastly different stages of economic development,” reflected R.J. Smith, chief financial officer at Salisbury & Moore Construction, Inc. “In Vietnam, we were able to explore how organizations are adapting to hyper-growth, infrastructure demands, and changes in trade patterns. In highly-developed Singapore, the focus was on optimizing workplace environments and protecting against the threats of labor shortfalls and supply disruptions.
Smith added, “In both countries, the companies we met with were very welcoming and open to sharing their processes, ideas, and culture with us. The trip was further enriched by having a range of students participate. Our diverse perspectives provided for deep, insightful conversations as we reflected upon the trip.”
Course leader Moorman commented, “this group of students were outstanding representatives of Elon University. They asked questions with enthusiasm, engaged vigorously in all the business and cultural events, and reflected intently on the trip. It was a pleasure traveling with them.”