The past 25 years have been an era of globalization, with countries becoming more connected as geographic, economic and social barriers of a bygone era are removed. With these power shifts taking place, the 21st annual Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business International Business Forum asks, What about North America? What should be on its competitive agenda?
“North America’s Competitive Agenda: Why and How the U.S., Canada and Mexico Should Enhance Their Alliance to Meet the Asian and European Challenges of the 21st Century,” sponsored by Universal Corp. and hosted by the VCU School of Business’ Center for International Business Advancement, takes place Tuesday, Oct. 13, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the University Student Commons Ballrooms, 901 Floyd Ave. A reception will follow in the School of Business Atrium, 301 W. Main St.
Van Wood, Ph.D., professor of marketing and Philip Morris Chair of International Business in the VCU School of Business, will moderate the panel, which will feature representatives from each country in North America.
“While these three countries have made significant progress in their quest to be a free trade area, there is significant opportunity to do more to strengthen the North American alliance, and to present a more coherent, meaningful and influential force in the shifting global landscape,” Wood said. “Our panel members bring a great wealth of experience and, I believe, insight into the many issues that will shape our economic, political and cultural landscape throughout the remainder of the 21st century.”
The panelists are Gilles Gauthier, minister for economic affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, an international strategic consultant and former Mexican ambassador to the U.S.; and Brandon Price, Ph.D., president and co-founder of Biogenen and the Ben J. Rogers Chair — Entrepreneur in Residence, at Lamar University in Texas.
The VCU School of Business established the International Business Forum in 1994 to raise awareness among students, faculty and the business community of the global nature of commerce and how it links to events both at home and abroad.
About VCU and VCU Health
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. The only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region, VCU Health is comprised of five health sciences schools (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy), VCU Medical Center, Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Virginia Premier. For more, please visitwww.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.
EMBA class of 2016 student, Kimberly Fields, recently travelled to Greece for the “Global Challenges” portion of the EMBA program. In a recent article posted on Dominion’s blog, You. The People of Dominion Kimberly discusses the rewarding experience abroad and the lessons she brings back with her.
Enlightening visits with the locals, engaging cultural events, business meetings and traditional classroom lectures helped us better understand not only the state of the country’s economy and lack of governmental structure, but also the history and legacy of its people. There is no doubt that the answer to its past struggles and future stability lies in the hearts of its people. Their pride and belief in their country still stands strong, even in the midst of unemployment and poor financial conditions.
And although it’s been kept quiet, there is a movement growing in Greece. These start-up businesses realize there is an opportunity to create market solutions that will contribute to the rebirth of the economy. This isn’t a perspective you gain by reading newspaper articles or listening to CNN. You have to be there. I left the country proud that I was able to experience the issues, but also contribute to the beginning of the solution.
The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business is a member of the Virginia International Trade Alliance, a new initiative announced by Gov. Terry McAuliffe last week.
Under themanagement of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, VITAL will strengthen the commonwealth’s nationally recognized international trade program through formal partnerships with public universities such as VCU, industry associations and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to expand international sales.
“As we continue to recruit new businesses to the commonwealth, we also need to help our existing businesses export their goods and services,” McAuliffe said during the announcement. “International trade is a key part of my plan to create private sector jobs and build a new Virginia economy that is less reliant on the federal government. This new VITAL initiative demonstrates the commonwealth’s commitment to helping existing Virginia businesses succeed in the international marketplace, making our economy even stronger.”
As VITAL partners, VCU and other state universities will identify companies with international business as a corporate strategy and conduct international research to position these companies for global expansion.
“Expanding international partnerships is a strategic focus for VCU, and we welcome the opportunity to build on the knowledge and connections we have developed, both internationally and across Virginia, to make VITAL a success.”
Over the past two years, representatives from the VCU School of Business have worked with VEDP and Maurice Jones, secretary of commerce and trade for Virginia, to conceptualize and develop VITAL, said Van R. Wood, Ph.D., Philip Morris Chair in International Business and professor of marketing.
“VITAL, through the faculty-led, student-driven research projects that will analyze world market opportunities for participating Virginia businesses, will not only expand the state’s international scope, enrich participating companies’ revenue streams and grow the state’s tax base, but will also develop the next generation of savvy global business managers — the students working on VITAL projects — that are so vitally needed today and in the future as globalization continues to gain depth and breadth,” Wood said. “VCU welcomes the opportunity to be a founding member of this truly unique alliance and the significant projects that it portends.”
Alliance goals include growing Virginia exports by $1.6 billion, creating 14,000 trade-supported jobs in five years and increasing the number of companies enrolled in VEDP’s international trade programs.
Kenneth Daniels, Ph.D., professor of finance, School of Business has been invited to speak at the prestigious Sovereign Investor Institute Investor Roundtable in Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 25–27. The Sovereign Investor Institute represents sovereign wealth funds from around the world and allows funds managers to engage in open dialogue about the current investment environment.
Fifty-seven delegates are scheduled to participate in the roundtable, including representatives from such various institutions as Bank of Tanzania, Bank of Uganda, Reserve Bank of South Africa, Nucleos Instituto De Seguridade Social (Brazil), FMO Netherlands, Regents of the University of California, Oxford University, Barclays Africa Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers and T. Rowe Price International.
Daniels will serve on a “spotlight session” panel discussing Government and Shareholder Rights along with:
Scott E. Kalb (Instigator)
Sovereign Investor Institute
Daniel Malan (Presenter)
Senior Lecturer, Business Ethics; Corporate Governance
University of Stellenbosch Business School
Dr. Renosi Mokate (Questioner)
Board Chair, GEPF
Executive Director, Graduate School of Business Leadership, UNISA University
Daniels, chairman of the board of the Richmond Retirement System, has participated in several investor roundtables sponsored by institutional investors. Virginia Commonwealth University’s participation in such internationally sponsored events signals the rising quality of the Department of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate at the School of Business.
Global experience can make or break a job candidate’s chances.
“Businesses expect students to have some international exposure,” said Nanda Rangan, Ph.D., associate dean for international and strategic initiatives in the Virginia Commonwealth UniversitySchool of Business. “That international exposure for the students is very important because many businesses now work on teams. And those are global teams.
“We want to provide that exposure for students. It makes them unique. They can show they have this extra add-on.”
To give students that opportunity, the School of Business implemented the International Consulting Program as a pilot project in 2013 with support from the Global Education Office‘s International Strategic Initiative Award (now the Quest Global Impact Award). The intense seven-week summer program sends students abroad to work as business consultants for international companies. It proved so successful that it officially launched as a full-fledged course this summer.
The three-part class involves language training, social skills, greetings and managing the culture and economy of the host country. The first four-week sequence is spent in Richmond, where the students receive formal classroom training while consulting with a Richmond-based client. The second sequence takes place overseas with live consulting engagements over two weeks.
“These are real businesses with real problems,” said Greg Waller, Ph.D., assistant professor in theDepartment of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate. “The students aren’t asking [the clients] questions and learning from them; they’re actually learning from our students. So our students are the ones that are doing the consulting work and that have the brain power.”
VCU sends 10 to 15 students to each of its partnership universities, which also provide students who work as teams on consulting contracts arranged by the host university. The businesses range from small to large and each have a unique problem that they need solved. Two VCU faculty members accompany the students at each site, which this year were Athens, Prague, Cypress and Cordoba. Clients ranged from a winery and a family-run restaurant to PepsiCo and EuroJet.
“So the idea is the student goes there, meets them, and they lay out the problem for the students,” Rangan said. Sometimes, what the business officials think is the problem is not a problem at all, he said, but they cannot clearly articulate the actual problem. In those cases, the students must diagnose the real problem. Once that is clear, they come up with how they’re going to solve it, and what the deliverables will be.
But the students have zero time to prepare beforehand. They only learn of their client once the airplane wheels have touched down in their host city.
“We drop them cold,” Waller said. “The students arrive in the country and they are confused. They’re in a new place, in a country where they may not speak the language, around people that they don’t know. For many of them it’s the first time they ever traveled. So, they arrive in the country, and now all of a sudden they have to get their bearings about their neighborhood and their surroundings and everything else.”
An unexpected challenge for the digital native students is losing their immediate access to one of their most reliable lifelines – the cellphone.
“We got lost a lot, but sometimes that’s part of the fun of traveling.”
“One of the other big challenges of traveling abroad is the lack of data connection for our smartphones,” said Katy Flick, a senior marketing student. “Every time you want to message someone or find a restaurant, you have to find a Wi-Fi spot first. We got lost a lot, but sometimes that’s part of the fun of traveling.”
Flick traveled to the Czech Republic, where she worked with two VCU students and one student from the Anglo-American University in Prague on a consulting problem for EuroJet that involved recommendations on variables for a new differentiated pricing strategy.
“Two weeks goes by really fast when you’re working on a consulting project for a company you knew nothing about prior to flying over,” Flick said. “Everyone wanted to work hard to impress their clients, but we also wanted to enjoy all that Prague had to offer. Sometimes you would have to work on your project when other people from the trip were doing something really cool like visiting the castle.”
It was also a challenge bringing together four individuals with different work styles and learning backgrounds, she said. While disagreements arose, student participants managed to compromise and create a project that everyone was happy with.
“The evolution at first is basic survival stuff,” Waller said. “Then they meet their clients and you can see how they struggle with defining the problem, with getting that into some written form that they can pass on to their client for approval. The first week they’re struggling, trying to come up with solutions for the problem.”
Going into the second week, Waller said, the teams start preparing for their final presentations.
“Even as late as the middle of the second week, you can see that the projects are rough and they’re working hard to shape it up and to make it presentable. By the time they go on stage, for their final presentation, the transformation from where they started to what they present is just astounding.”
Katie Gilstrap, assistant professor of marketing, likens the process to running a marathon.
“It’s wonderful to see them before and at the end,” she said. “We meet with them every day, so we get updates. Projects never go too far and so we’re working with them every day, to make sure they’re headed in the right direction.”
Waller has received feedback from former students that this component on their resumes was the thing that prospective employers wanted to talk about the most. It was the focus of many of their interviews. Waller understands why.
“It’s experiential learning,” Waller said. “It’s global. And, as opposed to bringing people here, we actually are sending our students out to the world, which I think is very important.”
“It’s experiential learning. It’s global. And, as opposed to bringing people here, we actually are sending our students out to the world…”
For students such as Flick, the greatest takeaway from the course was the experience of putting together a consulting project and presenting it to the client in such a tight timeline.
“It really made the team have to focus and work together in order to create a cohesive recommendation,” she said. “The excitement of working with a real client energized us to create a great project in a high-pressure environment.”
For the final week of the course, the students return to Richmond and write a reflection paper on their experiences — experiences that Rangan noted provide more benefits than merely making the students more marketable.
“This takes you to a new environment, where you’re completely on your own in terms of figuring out what it is,” he said. “I think it not only gives them a good experience in terms of learning, but also I think it does something to their self-esteem. It opens their windows to other experiences, to learn and appreciate other cultures, appreciate other economies. That’s what the whole idea is.”
The VCU School of Business offers numerous opportunities for students to study abroad to build on students’ personal development and help gain real-world experience. Students have the chance to increase their independence, establish lifelong friendships and gain better appreciation and respect of other cultures. Additionally, students will increase their global network, learn to work in an international business arena and enhance cross-cultural communication skills.
For all of the reasons, the School of Business started the International Consulting Program (ICP). The ICP provides students with the opportunity to leverage their existing business skills and develop new skills in an international environment, all while broadening their personal experience through interaction with culturally diverse students.
“After the trip with ICP, and the information that I took away from the program, I hope to be able to implement my new knowledge and experiences with the rest of my courses at VCU as well as be able to use the entire program on my resume,” says student Anneliese Merz who travelled through the ICP to Athens, Greece.
ICP gives students the opportunity to travel to one of four partnering Universities in four different countries: Nicosia, Cyprus; Prague, Czech Republic; Athens, Greece and Cordoba, Spain.
“I hope to be able to improve upon my skills in my academic and personal life with this experience,” said Jazlyn Green, another student who travelled through ICP to Greece.
“What I liked about the program was that you have the opportunity to study abroad and not just take courses but you are able to work on a project for an existing company. That was the most appealing part of the program to me,” said Green.
Gaining real international business experience also introduces students to dilemmas they will run into once they start working for a company after school.
“When we were in Greece the company I worked for decided to change what they wanted from us the night before our presentation so we were up until five in the morning. We were able to complete the presentation and ended up pleasing the company with our recommendations,” says Merz.
The program is open to Undergraduate and Graduate Business students, with a minimum 2.0 GPA, who have already taken FIRE 311, Financial Management, MGMT 301, Business Statistics and MKTG 301, Introduction to Marketing.
“I made tons of connections overseas. I was able to learn about the business world in another country and because I was able to work with an actual company, TNT Express, I made connections with that company. Another great thing about this trip is how many connections I made within the VCU community. The people who also end up going on this trip basically become a family,” says Merz.
Students interested in applying to the ICP can check out their website for more information and the application requirements.
The School of Business hosted its 2014 Spring Career Fair last week, featuring the largest number of visiting recruiters to date.
Despite being held on a make-up day due to the season’s ever-changing weather, the event drew nearly 90 businesses looking to hire VCU students and alumni.
This semester’s career fair was held in Snead Hall and the Qimonda Atriums. The wing of the Engineering School was used by the fair for the first time in order to accommodate all recruiting business’s exhibits.
With a 23 percent increase in companies attending from previous fairs, students had an opportunity to solicit information about jobs, internships and other opportunities with businesses looking for budding young professionals.
According to the School of Business Career Services, nearly 700 students attended the career fair.
“There was great participation by employers and students,” said VCU School of Business Career Services Director Mike Eisenman. “The employers were extremely complimentary of not just the volume of participation, but also the quality.”
Eisenman says at least one student was hired immediately after speaking and turning in a resume with one business. Twelve companies had already scheduled interviews with VCU students prior to the career fair as well, according to Eisenman.
“There are a lot of qualified individuals,” said Elizabeth Cane, a Regional Property Manager with Dodson Property Management. “We’ve gotten a lot of excellent questions. Everyone seems serious about this job fair and students are taking advantage of a great thing here.”
Joe Dodd, VCU Class of ’12, attended the fair as a recruiter with Geico. Dodd currently works for Geico as a Management Development Associate in Auto Sales and said he was happy to help recruit from his alma mater.
“I attended all of the career fairs while I was at VCU and I made a lot of good connections,” Dodd said. “If you see a name you recognize or something you’re interested in, my advice is to go up and just introduce yourself.”
Abhishek Sabbe, a sophomore double majoring in Information Systems and Computer Science, said he attended the fair in order to find an internship for this upcoming summer.
“The Career Fair has been amazing because it has given me an opportunity to learn more about different companies I had never heard of,” Sabbe said. “It’s let me put my name out there and provides real job opportunities.”
New to this semester’s career fair were more businesses in developing fields such as Supply Chain and Analytics. Eisenman says professors like Wayne Slough were instrumental in attracting companies to recruit at the fair.
Eisenman says the Career Fair is mutually beneficial for both students and businesses, creating opportunities for both parties to be successful.
“Employment is good right now.It’s a good time to be looking for a job if a student is taking advantage of the resources available,” Eisenman said. “They need talent. That’s the reason they come and we have that talent here.”
For information on upcoming Career Fairs and career building workshops offered by the School of Business Career Services, click here.
Embracing the TEDx mantra of spreading ideas, the VCU School of Business is introducing TedTalks Time-Out!
Every Wednesday this semester, the School of Business will be screening TedTalks, the world renowned conference seminar series that covers a breadth of topics from all types of industries presented by speakers at the top of their fields and disciplines.
The idea of screening TEDTalks began in the Office of Student and Alumni Engagement. Claire Calise, a VCU graduate student and Ram to Ram Coordinator says the office learned about TEDx from conversations with local business leaders and in-office chit-chat.
“We thought it’d be a great idea to give students a peaceful place they can come in the middle of the day and hear something they’ve never heard before, think about something they never considered and learn something for fun.” Calise said.
TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, began in the 80’s as an annual conference in Monterey, Ca. that looked to merge the three fields and showcase innovation among the disciplines.
Calise said the School of Business is aware many professors at VCU use TEDTalks in their respective classes for lectures, citing its value as a tool to teach and entertain students.
“They make you question what you know,” Calise said.
Although the program is just beginning, students who are even remotely familiar with TEDx are coming to learn more.
“I think TEDTalk videos are really inspiring,” said Britney, a Marketing major who was in attendance at last week’s screening. “They make me want to go out and do something after watching them.”
The popularity of TEDx has permeated throughout all of Richmond in the last year. In 2009, TEDx was founded, leasing the TED name for local events, so anyone, anywhere could apply to organize their own TEDx presentation.
Last year, TEDxRVA held its first conference and featured a large number of presentations, including researchers from VCU, a performance by modern pop-pianist ELEW and Zoe Romano and a local Richmonder who became the first woman to run across the country without a support vehicle in 2011.
TEDxVCU is currently being planned by a student-led team under the direction of junior, Elliot Roth.
“What’s really sad at VCU sometimes is student voices aren’t heard, they get lost in our huge university,” Roth said. “This event is our opportunity to have a student voice and have ideas expressed.”
Roth said the diverse culture of VCU would be more than fitting for a TEDx event, giving students an opportunity to showcase the different ideas and cultures that exists right on-campus.
TEDxVCU held its first open meeting last week and is currently looking for a location and talent. The organization has open-mic nights planned in the near future to scout potential speakers and spread even more awareness of the program.
Roth and Calise said TEDTalks Time-Out! bring more attention to local TED events, and in turn educate students more about Richmond.
“I love this city and I think VCU students should be proud that they’re here,” Calise said. “Sometimes students don’t seem to get off campus much, and it’s unfortunate. We should learn more about the city we live in.”
While both TEDxRVA and TEDTalks Time-Out are being rolled out almost simultaneously, the associations had no previous contact. Roth admits it’s a happy coincidence, being mutually beneficial.
The TEDTalks Time-Out! screenings will take place in Snead Hall, room B1114 every Wednesday this semester at 3pm.
Each month will have a different focus; January on Leadership, February on Collaboration and Non-Profits, March on Sustainability and April will feature presentations from last year’s TEDxRVA. Students, faculty and staff from all all over VCU are invited to attend the weekly TEDTalks Time-out event.
If you have an questions or comments for TEDTalks Time-Out! please contact Calire Calise at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 828-2035.
If you’re interested in participating with TEDxVCU, please contact Elliot Roth at email@example.com or (703) 232-6241.