Tag Archives: international business

More than a case competition

Guest post by Alex Brechner, GBCC Manager 2013

UW GBCC Students visit Esterline
UW GBCC Students on a Corporate Visit

Another year, another competition. Not this year! It is the 15th anniversary of the Foster School’s premier global competition, the Global Business Case Competition (GBCC).  Don’t allow it to slip past without recognition, instead stop for a minute and consider the impact of this competition over the course of 15 years.  Over 100 business schools from over 50 countries have sent teams to compete in GBCC.

Each year, for one week, universities from around the globe bring some of their best and brightest to the University of Washington (UW) to share in the competition and cultural collaboration. Students who would otherwise never have met gather together as friends and friendly competitors to share their wealth of knowledge. For one week, business as usual becomes something much greater – a chance for the UW to change from a dot on a map to a learning mecca where connections are built and memories are made. For those who get involved, it is a week not soon forgotten.

After speaking with past competitors representing UW, Katie Emoto and Michelle Lefler, it is clear that GBCC is far more than the average case competition. The participants are more than competitors; as Katie puts it, “by the end [of the week], everyone was so close.” Michelle adds that her favorite part of the competition week was “hanging out with everyone outside of the competition. It made the actual competition seem unimportant.” While both Katie and Michelle rave about the skills they took away from GBCC and the competition’s status on their resumes (both students are set up for employment after graduation), the true power of GBCC is in the sharing of culture, both inside and outside of the business environment. For instance, Katie used the intricacy of the Portuguese team’s PowerPoint as inspiration for her future presentations, and Michelle learned about a new employment program that led her to her future internship. They have also maintained contact with their fellow competitors a year after the competition. To the students and community members involved, GBCC is more than simply another case competition put on by the Foster School of Business

The 2013 competition is coming up next week. For the 15th time, there will be a week of laughs, spreadsheets, and newfound friends. This time, take notice and take part. After all, it only comes around once a year.

If you are interested in getting involved with GBCC 2013, come to the Global Networking Night on April 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Anthony’s Forum (Dempsey Hall), where you can meet the international student competitors. Also, join us for the GBCC Final Round on April 13 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm in the Shansby Auditorium (Paccar Hall 192). You’ll learn a little bit more about business and a lot more about the rest of the world.

The path less traveled in Shanghai

Guest post by Tim Anderson, Foster School and Certificate of International Studies in Business alumnus

Tim AndersonAfter graduating with degrees in business administration and Japanese linguistics as well as completing Certificate of International Studies in Business’s (CISB) Japan track program, I honestly didn’t think I’d end up living in Shanghai, China for the past nine years. However, ending my undergraduate studies on the eve of a burgeoning recession in the U.S., and a full-blown recession in Japan, it seemed like the path I’d set myself up for wasn’t so clear cut anymore.

At first, I was considerably lucky and managed get a nice job working in the marketing department at an international PR firm located downtown by the Pike Place Market. The experience was great and taught me a lot, but as good as it was, it still wasn’t what CISB and the Foster School of Business trained me to do: be a truly international entrepreneur.

About a year into that first real job, I was given an opportunity to help start up a language school in the city of Shanghai. Admittedly I was nervous about taking the offer because although I had spent time in Japan and a couple other parts around Asia as a student, I had no idea what to expect of China. In the end though, my love of Asia proved to be overwhelming so I packed my bags for a new life in a new place with a new language to learn.

The people I’ve met and business challenges I’ve overcome in the past nine years has made my decision to live here well worth it. Since moving here, I’ve found my place amongst the locals as well as the expat community, and have really been able to put my business studies to work. I’m currently managing the marketing operations for an international clothing brand that is trying to break into the China mainland market. The business environment in China is fast-paced and filled with unforeseeable challenges, yet extremely rewarding if know how to play your cards right.

I can’t thank CISB and the Foster School of Business enough for preparing me for the wild journey my life has taken this past decade. I hope many future graduates will be inspired to challenge their comfort zone and follow the path less traveled as I and other alumni have done. In the end, it’s especially gratifying to know I am part of a community of CISB and Foster graduates who are also experiencing what I am experiencing, connected by a common bond.

Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business Program.

Students present business strategy in Chinese

Business Language Competition - Kanghee Jeon, Alex Birch, Benjamin ChowCase competitions are an incredible skill builder for undergraduate business students – they require students to work as consultants on a real company and business challenges, they are given limited resources and time to create a solution, and then they are asked to present these solutions to a panel of corporate judges. Now, imagine doing this in a second language. This Fall, three Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) students studying Mandarin as a second or third language competed in the Chinese Track of the BYU Business Language Case Competition.

Kanghee Jeon, Alex Birch, and Ben Chow spent two weeks studying a case written in Chinese on Pepsi Company and preparing their presentation and executive summary all in Chinese. The team considered three countries in which Pepsi Company might expand. After assessing various economic factors, their solution was to enter the Chinese market. Their plan was to “penetrate not only beverages but also the food market which could be Pepsi’s competitive advantage over Coca Cola Company,” said Kanghee.

The team competed in three rounds at Brigham Young University, and they received outstanding feedback from the judges about the depth of their analysis and solution. Judges commented that they “loved how the presentation started with recommendations instead of analysis,” and that the students had a “great understanding of Chinese culture and financial environment” as well as “great leverage on business terms.”

One of the UW student competitors, Kanghee Jeon, said “I was very excited to do the case competition in a second language (or third for me).  Even though I was worried about my Chinese language skills, while preparing for the competition, I learned lots of new vocabulary and phrases. I am a lot more confident in speaking in Chinese after the competition. Additionally, it was a great opportunity for me to meet judges and other students from different schools.”

Kanghee would highly recommend participating in a business language competition to other students: “This is such a unique experience … You will get to build your teamwork, problem solving, time management, leadership, and language skills. It was challenging, but very rewarding!”

Sludge, China, and the Freshman Direct Track winning team

The 2012 Holland America Line Global Case Competition involved 48 hours of intense analysis of sludge, soil remediation, and joint ventures in China. The case for the November 17th competition was Phase Separations Solutions (PS2): The China Question, and over 60 Foster School undergraduates teams were asked to recommend a course of action regarding PS2’s opportunities in China.

Teams were asked to tackle difficult questions in the charge and even more challenging ones from the panels of corporate and faculty judges:  Which JV option should they pursue? What challenges are posed by partnering with the government? What about intellectual property theft? What are the bankruptcy laws in China?

Among these teams were sixteen Foster School Freshmen Direct students. They made up their own track in the morning rounds and competed for a $500 prize. The panel of judges for the Freshman Direct Track was impressed by the ease with which these teams presented and the depth of their research and analysis after only a few months at the Foster School.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the winning team of the Freshman Direct Track about their experience. Here is what the winning team members Tim Kim, Barrett Stapleman, Erik Meister, and Ben Hagen had to say:

 What did you learn? Lots of different business terminology; how to prepare, conduct research and how to play the role of a consultant; we learned what a real business presentation looks like, and how to creatively think on our feet.

What did you take away from watching the upperclassmen presentations in the Final Round? Teams need to know everything inside and out – the numbers, the strategy, the facts. The organization of their PowerPoint presentations was impressive, and the team members all presented in a professional tone that was very direct, clear, and to the point.

What was the most challenging part? Time management, researching obscure aspects of the case, and the formulation of the actual presentation – how to include relevant content without overwhelming the slide – were all difficult.

What would you tell other students? Even if you don’t have any background in case competitions, it is a good learning experience to throw yourself into this difficult situation. Just attack it. You will learn skills that will prepare you for the future like time management, presentation skills, and teamwork. Just go out and get involved.

Will you compete again?  Yes!

The Global Business Center would like to give a special thanks to our sponsor of this year’s competition Holland America Line. To learn more about the Holland America Line Global Case Competition, visit the Global Business Center website.

Study abroad photo contest winners 2012

Over 250 University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students studied or interned abroad last year. These photos and short descriptions are a small taste of the transformative educational experiences these students have each year. The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos in two categories: 1) Foster Abroad: Photo that inspires others to study abroad or makes a statement about the student experience abroad; 2) My Global Lens: Views uniquely accessible to students living abroad – social issues, cultural interactions, cityscapes, landscapes, etc.

Here are the first and second place winners in each category. Enjoy them!

1st Place Foster Abroad: Chris Comley, Undergraduate; Montpellier, France

Bon Appetit, Au Revoir
Friends dining at an enchanting garden cafe, enjoying a final lunch of quiche, iced tea, and peaches and cream before the magic of a summer in the Midi ends

Experience abroad: Summer in the south of France afforded many luxuriant opportunities. Among the best were afternoons spent dining in this tiny garden area tucked discreetly behind an antiques shop where good food and company created moments to savor. The photos captures the ironic laughter of our final lunch at the cafe, a day before the end of the program.

2nd Place Foster Abroad: Ashley Matsumoto, Undergraduate; Kobe, Japan

Becoming Japanese
During summer in Japan, Yukata (summer version of kimono) is the Japanese traditional-wear for festivals and other events, but my fellow Foster friend and I decided one day near the end of our semester that we wanted to just explore the beauty of Kyoto and make memories together. We had hundreds of photos taken of us and are probably now in those tourists’ photo albums, who were shocked when we spoke to them in English – though we had been speaking the language the entire time there, this day in look we also finally became “Japanese.”

Experience abroad: Studying abroad was the most exciting, amazing, memorable experience of my life. Time became something I thought about every day. At home, most of my time was devoted to school, commute, family, friends, etc. But in Kobe, I was starting completely fresh with no established routine – and it was almost like time was something I now had complete control over, and /I/ could decide how I wanted to use it. My choice was to focus on everything happening in the here and now, so that I would never regret not doing something during these 6 months that I knew I would forever pine for but never get back no matter how many times I return to Japan. And when I look at my thousands of photos and think on the memories with the amazing friends I was able to make, I am happy to say that I regret nothing. And, I am heading back to Japan as soon as absolutely possible!

1st Place My Global Lens: Roda Barket, Undergraduate; Longji, China

Craving Fresh Air
Figuratively, craving the freshness and uniqueness of China. Literally, craving the fresh air in Longji after experiencing the pollution in Beijing and Shanghai.

Experience abroad: I had the most incredible experience of my life. Being an African immigrant young woman, I never thought I would have the opportunity to go to such an “exotic” country as China. I use the word “exotic” because I’m often referred to as exotic by Americans but never quite understood it until China. I never had the chance to go to a place or learn about a culture that was so unfamiliar to me. I had no idea what to expect. I loved every minute of my experience, it was life transforming for me and inspiring to many of the people I knew who also considered China exotic.
2nd Place My Global Lens: Alex Birch, Undergraduate; Pingyao, China

A Land That Time Has Forgotten
To describe urban and rural China as “180 degrees” from each other, would be an understatement. As much as we think of the progression made today, the rest of the world is still trying to catch up.

Experience abroad: I was able to explore many different areas in Asia while studying abroad in Shanghai. My program took me to the ancient city of Pingyao, the first city to have China’s first national bank. Here, I was able to witness rural China, something that I could never have imagined prior to arriving to the city. It truly made me realize that this is how a significant portion of the world still lives. Over my 3 months, I was able to experience the extreme ends of Chinese culture, the most modern and most dated, something I will never forget and always will cherish.

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included over 30 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study abroad opportunities at the Foster School.

Study abroad photo contest winners 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words. Every year University of Washington Foster School of Business undergraduate and MBA students study and work abroad as part of their business degree and sometimes the best way to convey the value of those experience is through a photo. The UW Global Business Center held a competition for the best student photos of 2011 travels. Here are the 1st and 2nd place winners in two categories – titles, captions, descriptions written by students:

  1. Foster Abroad: Photo that inspires others to study abroad or makes a statement about the student experience abroad
  2. My Global Lens: Views uniquely accessible to students living abroad – social issues, cultural interactions, city scapes, landscapes, etc.

Foster Abroad – 1st Place (tie): Olivia Arguinchona, undergraduate 
India

Good morning India!
This picture was taken at the Taj Mahal at around 6 AM in the morning. I don’t think there is any other place where I could have been so awake at this hour in the morning.

Experience abroad: This exploration seminar focused on women leadership and entrepreneurship in a country where women are commonly oppressed. Looking back on all I experienced, India has become a symbol of resilience for me. I met so many women who had found a way to lift themselves and their family out of desperate poverty, or who were, in poverty, surviving and planning for the future of their children. Our group delved into the topic of microfinance, something I know hope to pursue once receiving a degree.

Foster Abroad – 1st Place (tie): Olga Kachook, undergraduate
Johannesburg, South Africa

Shadows of Us
Biking through Soweto, one of South Africa’s most culturally rich and diverse townships.

Experience abroad: Life abroad beats to a different drum- restaurants serve food at a snail’s pace, transportation is a chaotic adventure, and many things are lost in translation. Sometimes these changes were exhilarating, and sometimes they were frustrating, but most of the time they just made you stop and question things you take at face value back home. The differences between places and cultures are what usually stand out, but ultimately studying abroad shows you both sides of the coin- not just differences but similarities too. Discovering our similarities to people half way across the world is what makes travel exciting.

Foster Abroad – 2nd Place: Stephan Chung, undergraduate
Cork, Ireland

Reppin’ the DUBYA after win #1
The first of many. UW’s Ireland Exploration Seminar representing the dawg pack in Ireland following our season opening win against the Eastern Eagles. Photo location: Kinsale Harbour

Experience abroad: I decided to go on this business summer exploration to Ireland after hearing raving reviews from everyone I ever talked to who went on the trip. We spent an amazing three weeks visiting large national business and touring Ireland’s cities, towns, and beautiful natural landscape. The Charles’ Fort at Kinsale Harbour where this picture was taken offered breathtaking views of the coast and an interesting piece of Irish history.

My Global Lens – 1st Place: Amanda Hamilton, undergraduate
Ahmedabad, India

Who Runs the World? (Girls)
Empowering a girl empowers the world. Providing education and opportunities to girls around the world is the key to the future. Location: A small, rural village outside Ahmedabad

Experience abroad: Traveling to India was the biggest eye-opener ever. The culture shock and awe-inspiring experience was, at times, overwhelming, but left me thinking so much more deeply about the issues going on in this world. Seeing the stark contrast between the rich and poor and meeting all these amazing women who are taking what they were given and being empowered to be the change in their own lives and communities is so entirely humbling and inspiring. It was amazing to see the people and programs who are truly trying to make a difference by empowering these women and giving them opportunities to affect change around them. The woman in this picture was part of a case study where we went and met with a group of women in a village who had been given solar lanterns and clean cookstoves to improve their lives and daily work.

My Global Lens – 2nd Place: Siena Cairns, undergraduate
Valdivia, Chile

Trapped Miners: 33+
Crawling deep into the suffocating tunnels of Cerro de Potosí showed me there were more than 33 miners living in the dark. Location of photo: Potosí, Bolivia

Experience abroad: The week I arrived in Chile was the week that 33 miners became trapped in the north. Although this was significant international news, it was hardly the only cause for attention across the nation. At that same time, leaders of the indigenous minority, the Mapuche, were entering their second month of a hunger strike and protesters were gathering blocks away from my university. In the midst of national turmoil, Chile was approaching its 200 year celebration as a nation and an election year. I was swept into all of this, and slowly over meals with my host family, classroom discussions, and chats with local friends, my understanding of Chile’s political, social, and cultural history grew until I really began to understand the weight of these pressing issues around me.

Touring the mines and engaging with miners was one of these eye opening experiences. The miners taught me how life in the mines is so demanding that there comes a day when you know little else. In this sense, they become trapped in those deadly tunnels, unable to leave the only lifestyle they know. When I left home to learn Spanish, I never expected to return with such an understanding of this foreign culture too.

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included nearly 30 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study and work abroad opportunities via the Global Business Center.

Global study: Looking at Cyprus & Greece through different cultural lenses

Guest blog post by Aspasia Bartell, UW Foster School of Business MBA student

Selected from a nationwide candidate pool, second-year Foster MBA student Aspasia Bartell traveled to Cyprus and Greece this summer with the American Hellenic Institute Foundation, a Washington, DC-based, Greek-American think tank. During the trip she had the opportunity to study current foreign policy issues and the business environments in Greece and Cyprus. The delegation met with the President of Greece, ambassadors, Greek and Greek-American business leaders and other dignitaries.

We began our trip in Cyprus, a divided country since the 1974 conflict between Turkey and Greece. Northern Cyprus remains under the control of Turkish military forces, a situation regarded as an illegal occupation denounced in several United Nations Security Council resolutions. The Greek-Cypriot government in the south wants to reunify the island, but attempts to reach a solution to the dispute have so far been unsuccessful. This situation has created hardships for the Cypriot people; for example, thousands have lost their homes and businesses as a result of the occupation and continued division.

Despite the division, the Cypriot economy is doing quite well. Over the past decade Cyprus has become a magnet for Foreign Direct Investment. The Greek-Cypriot government has taken specific measures to help drive investment including putting in place a low 10% corporate tax rate and a no withholding tax policy as a means to make investing in Cyprus as simple as possible.

UW Foster School MBA student Aspasia Bartell in Athens, Greece
UW Foster School MBA student Aspasia Bartell in Athens, Greece

Next, we visited Greece in the midst of its worst financial crisis in history.

In Athens we met with Dr. Miranda Xafa, Alternate Executive Director at the Board of the International Monetary Fund, who explained the economic crisis in greater depth. She discussed how Greece has taken out the largest loan in the history of humanity. Its debt has been downgraded to junk status. Greece is more than likely to default.

Xafa then spoke about actions Greece needs to take to make progress. She spoke on how Greece needs foreign direct investment and that this investment should be from private capital. She spoke further on how the country needs to focus on its tourism and shipping industries, which make up approximately 30% of its GDP. She also believes that officials should take a thorough look at the size of its public sector.

One of the business leaders we met with was Dennys S. Plessas, Vice President of Business Development Initiatives for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. He told us that Greece needs to isolate and to focus on its competitive advantage moving forward. He says the country needs to focus on exports of certain products as well as expanding its education system.

The political turmoil that accompanies this economic crisis has made addressing policy issues in Greece more difficult.

Greek officials are also dealing with an ongoing diplomatic dispute with their northern neighbor, the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), over the name “Macedonia” itself. The Greek government maintains that the Republic of Macedonia should include a qualification such as “northern” to differentiate itself from the neighboring Greek region also called Macedonia.  While Greek and Macedonian officials continue to debate the issue, the UN has agreed to accept any final agreement the two countries are able to reach.

Also, relations with Turkey still remain strained due to an increasing number of Turkish flyovers in Greek airspace. As a result, Greece finds it necessary to continue to spend a large amount of its GDP on its military, while those funds are badly needed elsewhere.

UW Foster School MBA student Aspasia Bartell meets Greek President Karolos Papoulias
UW Foster School MBA student Aspasia Bartell meets Greek President Karolos Papoulias

We were fortunate to meet with Dr. Karolos Papoulias, the President of Greece.  President Papoulias used our visit as opportunity to thank President Obama for his political help with the financial crisis. He ended our meeting with a powerful message that the Greek people possess an incredible amount of strength and ambition and they will emerge from this crisis.

This trip was a phenomenal experience that illustrated how the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and that the business leaders of both today and tomorrow need to have an international view. During this trip I saw how leaders from different countries often view situations through their own cultural lens. The ability to recognize this and to attempt to see issues from the cultural viewpoint of another leader is an important skill when working in the international sphere.