International Research Course
Every year, the UTEP MBA offers its students the opportunity to take part in the International Research Course (IRC) - a short-term faculty-led study abroad experience which allows students to learn about the business environment and culture of the country they visit. Students from all three formats-Executive MBA (EMBA), Accelerated MBA (AMBA) and Full-Time MBA (FTMBA) elected to have this year’s IRCs in China.
The UTEP MBA staff and faculty facilitated this IRC experience for 43 students. This was the largest student group managed by the UTEP MBA program since the inception of the IRC in 2009. The IRCs took place in Beijing and Shanghai, China during Spring Break-March 9-15, 2015.
The IRC for the EMBAs, led by Dr. Feixue (Faith) Xie, focused on comparative corporate governance. Students learned about the challenges and opportunities that are a part of doing business in China through corporate visits to Microsoft, Super 8 Hotels, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Control Risks. Some visits provided valuable insight into the business models of multinational companies in this dynamic environment, while other visits gave students the sense that the variables associated with conducting business in China seem to be stabilizing. Lisa Saucedo, EMBA ’15, commented, “You can’t pull the information we learned during this week from Google.”
EMBA students visiting Control Risks for a panel presentation
Control Risks, a global risk consultancy firm, gathered an expert panel to discuss how firms manage political, regulatory, and security risks in China. The Super 8 Hotel visit with Joe Xu -Senior Vice President of Super 8 China and UTEP alum delivered a great presentation regarding development strategies, challenges and opportunities Super 8 Hotels have encountered in the Chinese market.
The IRC for AMBA and FTMBA students was led by Dr. Zuobao (Eddie) Wei. Corporate visits included multinational and Chinese firms such as Baidu, Shunxin Agriculture, Huawei, TE Connectivity, GE Technology and Saybot. The visit to Beijing Shunxin Agriculture Co., Ltd. based in Beijing, China was particularly eventful. Students toured a hog slaughterhouse where they witnessed hogs going through an assembly line, being prepared for food consumption. Students were then taken to a distillery where various spirits are manufactured and processed. While in Shanghai, students visited Huawei technology, an employee owned private company.
The UTEP MBA staff partnered with The Asia Institute to facilitate the corporate visits and cultural excursions. Students tasted local cuisine and visited various cultural landmarks such as the Forbidden City in Beijing and Zhujiajiao water town in Quingpu District in the outskirts of Shanghai.
An IRC student favorite was the visit to the Great Wall of China. Students rode a cable car to get to the wall and once there, everyone walked through various sections of the wall which required great care as there are sections which are quite steep and uneven. To descend, students chose a toboggan slide down the wall which was an exhilarating and unexpected treat. Suzanne Ashour-Bailey, AMBA ’15, shared that "the cultural experiences not only helped me to better understand the Chinese culture but also to gain a more in-depth understanding of how that culture affects the function of business in the country."
Planning for the IRC –Spring Break 2016 will begin this summer. Location proposals will be presented to students for voting this fall. UTEP MBA Alumni are welcome to participate!