For spring break (March 2014), 156 MBA and undergraduate students traveled to Brazil, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, and the United Arab Emirates for a variety of study abroad experiences offered by the Office of Global Initiatives at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. Nearly 70 MBA students studied abroad in Europe and Latin America while nearly 90 undergraduates participated in courses in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
The Emerging Global Companies course to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, led by Professor Paulo Prochno, has long been one of Smith’s most in-demand courses by MBAs due to its consulting focus.
"The trip to Brazil was undoubtedly the highlight of my MBA program,” said Natalia Kossobokova ’15. “The consulting project was a true test of our group's ability to leverage our individual skills and overcome unexpected barriers that go along with working for a foreign entity. The speakers during the trip gave great insight into Brazil's developing market and the challenges U.S. companies face when trying to approach this market. It was a great opportunity to connect with other classmates with respect to career opportunities as well," she said.
The course focused on local companies and multinational corporations operating in Brazil and included a hands-on consulting opportunity for students to work with start-ups supported by a Brazilian incubator. The 40 students visited Deloitte, BASF, a Brazilian software company, and BMF & BOVESPA, the thirteenth largest stock exchange in the world. Students also enjoyed city tours of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and a visit to Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.
Professor Charles Olson took 27 MBA students to Germany and the Netherlands for Doing Business in the Euro Zone, a course that analyzed energy markets, policy, and technology. Students attended special lectures by faculty at the Otto Beisheim School of Management, an exchange partner of the Smith School for more than a decade, as well as at University of Groningen. Professor Olson also arranged site visits to RWE Germany, an electric and gas company; Gasunie, a Dutch gas infrastructure and transportation company; and the Energy Transition Center, a market-linked institute for energy innovation. Cultural visits included a city tour of Koblenz, Germany and a visit to Castle Marksburg.
For the third year in a row, Professor Susan White led 15 undergraduates to Nicaragua for Microfinance in Action. The course is a popular option for undergraduates as it provides real-world, hands-on consulting experience with Nicaraguan entrepreneurs. The Maryland students work alongside peers from National Autonomous University of Nicaragua and Universidad Americana.
"Many students take study abroad trips and hear great speakers and go to wonderful places,” said Professor White. “Nicaragua is a destination where you can do all this but also make real impact on entrepreneurs' lives. Richard, owner of a transportation service, said his competitors had almost pushed him out of business two years ago. University of Maryland students helped him create a web site and set up a base office. Richard said that thanks to the students' advice, he was able to remain in business. This year, Yessenia, a baker and fashion show producer, said the student help in developing a business plan for her disconnected product lines gave her business new life," White said.
Professor Mark Wellman led 42 undergraduates to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Global Immersion Experience course. The class visited the Dubai International Financial Centre; Nakheel, the Dubai-based real estate developer responsible for such iconic projects as the Palm Islands; and Jumeirah, the UAE-based luxury hotel chain that includes the sailboat-shaped Burj Al Arab. The course also included an overnight stay in the desert.
“To say that this experience was an eye-opener is an understatement. As a management and marketing major it is imperative to know global markets and how businesses operate outside of the United States,” said Lorain Santo, Marketing and Management ’14.
Professor Mary Harms led 22 undergraduates to Paris and Amsterdam for Business of French and Dutch Design and Culture. Students visited Ernst & Young and met with the owner of a Parisian handicrafts boutique, La Tuile à Loup. Students also had dinner with Smith School alumni Ben Brown ‘08 who works in the Amsterdam office of First Annapolis, a Maryland-based management consulting firm.
Emily Doane and Karmin Cortes of the Office of Undergraduate Studies led 10 freshmen to London for a non-credit international experience. They met with four Smith alumni who currently work in London and six Smith students currently studying abroad in England. The 10 students also visited Oxfam International, Twinings, and Ernst & Young. Smith alumnus Beckett Hollenbach ’01, a reinsurance broker, led the students on a tour of Lloyd’s of London while Amanda Scott, MBA ’08, gave first-hand insight about expatriate life in London as Account Director at Towers Watson, a consulting firm.
“The opportunity to host 10 of the brightest and most ambitious young students from the Smith School was a real pleasure,” Hollenbach said. “The world of insurance/reinsurance is not traditionally taught within the curriculum so I hoped to expose them to another viable and rewarding career path. The students were engaging and inquisitive.”
Smith Goes Global
In January, 297 undergraduate and MBA students studied abroad over winter break in 10 countries. In May, 49 undergraduates and MBAs will travel to China, England, Germany, and South Africa.
In addition to short-term study abroad opportunities, there are currently 126 Smith students studying abroad for the spring semester in Australia, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Jordan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
-Matt Grieger, Assistant Director, Office of Global Initiatives