Tag Archives: international travel

STUDY ABROAD PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS 2014

Over 300 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: Foster Abroad and My Global Lens.

Santos_Malaysia_FA

1st Place Foster Abroad: Hitchhiking in George Town

Experience abroad: Jeremy Santos, Foster School Exchange Program at the National University of Singapore.  Studying and living abroad gave me the opportunity to see, hear, and taste new things. The experience knocked me off my feet!”

Gardner_Prague_FA

2nd Place Foster Abroad: Dawg Pack in Prague - Our program contributed to the Lennon Wall in Prague by spray painting a W and showing our Husky spirit abroad.

Experience abroad: Jessica Gardner, UW CHID Program in Prague.  “I spent 10 weeks studying abroad in Prague and visiting surrounding areas learning about how different groups and countries learn about history and how this represents who they are today. I immersed myself in Eastern Europe culture and felt that I gained a greater appreciation for different cultures and discovered how I want my business career to be internationally focused.”

McCarthy_India_MGL

1st Place My Global Lens - The Last Potter: This man was the last potter in his village, as his only son pursued a different career. I love how his grin shows how proud he is of his work!

Experience abroad: Alexandra McCarthy, Foster School Exploration Seminar in India.  “Studying abroad in India was nothing short of amazing. I absolutely fell in love with the people and the culture. From their colorful clothing to breathtaking temples, India is by far one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to.”

Beam_Spain_MGL

2nd Place My Global Lens – A Man and His Dog: It’s not every day that you get to wander through the mountains of Northern Spain. Even more rare is meeting this man who has lived in a stone hut in the mountains his whole life, swapping stories over the cheese he makes from the cows that roam nearby, using smiles to convey what my broken Spanish could not.

Experience abroad: Bonnie Beam, Foster School Exchange Program at the University of Navarra in Spain.  “My time abroad has been challenging, awkward, hilarious, embarrassing and most importantly, has opened my eyes to things I would have not seen otherwise. I have been humbled by how much I have to learn and am extremely grateful for every single person who has taken the time out to teach me something new; from teaching me a simple phrase to showing me how to play pádel to divulging the secret to making the perfect roscillas, I am a better person because of it all and I owe it to the lovely citizens of Pamplona. I have realized that I will never stop learning as long as I continue in humility and take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included over 40 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study abroad opportunities at the Foster School.

The Carletti Expedition–Prologue

Guest post by Wilson Carletti, recipient of the Bonderman Travel Fellowship (read more about the fellowship and Carletti’s backstory here).

Wil Carletti I do not think there is necessarily a definitive “line,” that we cross and magically become adults; however, as I look around, I watch my best friends, acquaintances, family, co-workers (real, intelligent human beings) crossover from being merely faces in the crowd to the ones standing onstage. Better yet, they’re not just standing, they are dancing, celebrating, creating beautiful art, expressing themselves. They’re winning PAC-12 championships (and IMA championships), creating clothing lines, moving to faraway places, building companies, designing products, and literally saving lives. They are starting non-profit organizations, they’re becoming doctors, lawyers; they’re pushing their limits, as well as those around them. As I stared out the airplane window—the sun had just set behind Managua—I began to think about just how far I was about to push my own limits.

After landing and standing in line at customs, I found the shuttle that would take me to Granada. At this point, darkness made it difficult to take in much of the scenery, so I chatted with the driver a bit. While it seems as though Nicaragua takes the lines on the road a little more seriously than drivers did in China (I participated in an Exploration Seminar there), it took me awhile to get used to. I kept noticing buses with bright, blinking, colorful lights all over the front end – I asked the driver what that was for. Apparently it’s legal in Nicaragua, so why not? “You should see this place during Christmas time – the entire road looks like a Christmas tree,” he exclaimed.

We made it safely to the hotel, and, as I sat there, about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, I decided I would write to reflect on what was. I would write to grow, as I explore what will be. And I would write to inspire others to pursue what could be.

Of all the paths I described above, none is more worthy than the other; you do not have to be an astronaut or rock star (or go on an 8-month long adventure for that matter) to make a positive difference in this world. Find something that you are passionate about and share it with those around you. Find your stage.

I felt excited to try to find my stage over these next eight months. While I definitely felt nervous, I was pleasantly surprised by how calm I was. I have been thinking about this for months now, and finally, I was ready.

The next day, when I awoke in my warm, humid hotel room in Granada, I felt like I had woken up from a long dream. I was a bit anxious – I knew no one and I was far away from home. Finally I strode confidently out onto the cobblestone street.

Adapted for the Foster Blog with the help of Wilson Carletti. More episodes to come. Follow his unabridged journey here.

The Global Team is GBCC 2014 champion

Nick Schuler (UW), Jarred Adams (FSU), Mathea Hubert (NHH), and James Lam (CHUK)
Nick Schuler (UW), Jarred Adams (FSU), Mathea Hubert (NHH), and James Lam (CHUK)

Four students representing four different universities and three continents made up the ‘Global Team’ that took home the trophy in the 16th annual Global Business Case Competition (GBCC) on Saturday, April 12th.

Each of the twelve student teams that competed in GBCC spent 48 hours analyzing a business case on Nike’s sustainability and labor practices. The students were asked to identify three countries where Nike should shift its production. Teams had to justify their choices by explaining the advantages and tradeoffs of candidate countries in terms of sustainability and labor practices, as well as costs and other competitive factors. They also had to address ways in which Nike could implement traceability of its supply chain for collegiate apparel.

Of the four teams selected to move on to the final round, the judges chose the ‘Global Team’ as this year’s Champion. Unlike the other competing teams who came from just one university, the ‘Global Team’ was made up of one student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Florida State University, NHH Norwegian School of Economics, and the University of Washington. They met for the first time just days before their final presentation.

Multicultural teams are now a reality of both the classroom and the professional environment. The Global Business Center began the ‘Global Team’ tradition eight years ago to bring students from around the world together to work as a team. The judges said that the team’s final presentation clearly benefitted from their diverse backgrounds and experiences. In eight years, the Global Team has placed in the finals four times, and now they are GBCC Champions!

The Global Business Center would like to acknowledge the hard work of our GBCC Student Leadership Team who spent countless hours organizing this event. Co-chairs Lisa Dang and Connor Harle were exceptional leaders for over 100 students that were involved this year.

Finally, GBCC would not be possible without our major corporate sponsors: The Boeing Company, Costco Wholesale, F5 Networks, Fluke Danaher Corporation, Russell Investments, Starbucks Coffee International, and Wells Fargo.

Study abroad photo contest winners for 2013

Over 300 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, landscapes, etc.

1st Place Foster Abroad: Kurt RiRicketts_India_FAcketts, Undergraduate; India Business Exploration Seminar

Namaste: What I didn’t expect was that by the end of my visit, India would have me in her grip, refuse to let go, and in exchange for my experience, instill a drive in me that would demand a call to action.

Experience abroad: What an experience. You expect to be challenged, but you don’t expect to be awakened.

 

 

bell_brazil_FA2nd Place Foster Abroad: Kainen Bell, Undergraduate; Brazil Business Exploration Seminar

A Dream Come True: This moment was surreal because ever since high school my dream was to travel to Brazil, but I didn’t think it was possible because no one in my family or community had ever done so. Despite my circumstances I heavily pursued my dream and was accepted in the Brazil program,  received scholarships to pay for it, and was the first in my family to study abroad and now I am a living proof that dreams really do come true, but you can’t be afraid to pursue them.

Experience abroad: My Study Abroad Experience in Brazil was life changing. During the trip my perspective was changed. I saw how essential it was for the Brazilian to learn other languages to and know about global news, while I just knew English and a little Spanish. It made me value different languages and cultures more.  Meeting with Brazilian students was a great experience and cultural exchange – even though we were from different parts of the world, we could still relate to each other and have fun. Overall, I was inspired by this trip and mind blown.

Marks_Argentina_GL1st Place My Global Lens: Kate Marks, Undergraduate; Buenos Aires, Argentina

Convergence: Argentina struggles to reconcile their “dirty” past of military dictatorship with the hopeful future the election of Pope Francisco brings to the country. Taken March 24, 2013, the day of national remembrance of the “disappeared persons”, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Experience abroad: Living and studying in Argentina gave me an unparalleled perspective of what it is like to live with an unstable government and economy. Populism is still alive and well in Argentina, well after the fall of many other Latin American military dictatorships. I spoke with and befriended many young people who see a different future for their country–which now seems possible with the election of the first ever South American (specifically, Argentine) pope. The convergence of Argentina’s violent and unstable recent history with the new movement towards democracy and change created a dynamic and complicated environment in which to live and observe.

Bozeman_Spain_MGL2nd Place My Global Lens: Ashley Bozeman, Undergraduate; Leon, Spain

Las Medulas: An unexpected gold mine in Northern Spain.

Experience abroad: I had a wonderful experience abroad with my 12 amigas from UW, our loving and caring host families, and awesome Spanish teachers at the UW Leon Center in Leon, Spain. These were some of the most rewarding and fun three months of my college career and I would encourage anyone and everyone to study abroad during their time at the UW.

See all photos submitted for the contest. Judges included over 40 faculty and staff members. Learn more about MBA and undergraduate study abroad opportunities at the Foster School.

Kelly Miyahara: Anything is possible

Kelly Miyahara
Foster alumna Kelly Miyahara working on the set of Jeopardy!

Category: Fascinating Fosters for $2000

Answer: Serendipitous member of Jeopardy! Clue Crew and unexpected Ironman triathlete

Question: Who is Kelly Miyahara?

Miyahara (BA 2000) would be the first to admit she was born to do neither—that is, travel the world recording visual clues for the nation’s iconic game show nor compete in the world’s preeminent test of extreme endurance.

Blessed (and cursed) with infinite interests, Miyahara graduated from Foster not quite sure what to do with her degree. Around vagabond spells in Europe, she began building a career at Nordstrom. She had just been promoted to customer service manager of a Los Angeles store in 2004 when the phone rang early one Sunday morning.

It was her mother, a schoolteacher and long-time Jeopardy! devotee, beyond excited to tell her daughter about an open casting call for the show’s Clue Crew.

Why not her?

Miyahara decided on a lark to try out. She composed her crude audition tape on a 1984 camcorder. But, to her eternal surprise, she made the first cut of the nationwide talent search. Then a second. Then a third.

“Looking around at these professional actors I thought, I don’t belong here,” she admits. “But it actually worked to my advantage because the only thing I could be was myself. And it turns out that’s what they were looking for.”

Ever since, Miyahara has traveled the world, recording Jeopardy! “answers” on location—often exotic location—as well as representing the program on tour and delivering “Classroom Jeopardy!” to schools across America.

The past decade has been a whirlwind. She has recorded clues amid the swirl of Times Square and at the gates of an Ancient Cambodian temple, aboard an America’s Cup yacht careening across San Francisco Bay and on a jetting duckie captained by Australia’s legendary Bondi Beach Lifesavers. A USO tour of Japan with host Alex Trebek helped her reconnect with her family heritage. A South African safari found her working among a pride of lions in the wild. And a Jeopardy! fan cruise gave her occasion to stroll among the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands.

“So many places I would never have had the opportunity to see without Jeopardy!” she says. “I have to pinch myself every day. This is my job! What I do for a living!”

Never say never

The experience has emboldened Miyahara to go after her interests and dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.

Exhibit A: triathlon. A string of catastrophic knee injuries that began in high school had ended promising soccer and softball careers; doctors had warned her to avoid running for the rest of her days.

But a few years ago some friends were doing a triathlon for charity. Miyahara thought she would swim, bike, then just walk. “I should have known better,” she admits. “I’m competitive, and I just kept pushing.”

She pushed that knee farther and farther, eventually training for a full Ironman—2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run—alongside a growing coterie of teammates who became close friends.

One of the closest was a woman named Marisela Echeverria, with whom Miyahara made a quixotic pact: if either got the chance to go to the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, they would go together. But on a training ride the very day of the 2012 Ironman Kona, Echeverria was hit by a bus and died.

“I decided to find a way to keep that promise,” Miyahara says.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Her only hope was a program called “Kona Inspired” that awards seven spots for athletes whose stories are more compelling than their qualifying times. The program’s motto was her own: “anything is possible.”

Kelly’s story was Mari. Friends from her Team In Training Ironteam helped produce her entry video which went viral. Its inspiration touched hearts around the globe, helping raise more than $31,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And Miyahara booked a ticket to Kona, supported by 40 members of “Team Mari.”

When she finally crossed the finish line long after dark on October 13, it hit her that the experience was so much more than a race. “I didn’t realize how much healing was happening until afterward,” she recalls. “That weight that we had all felt since Mari died just lifted. We all had this incredible sense of peace. I think she did, too.”

Next start?

Miyahara plans to continue racing, though at distances more sensible for her compromised joints. She has signed on to be an assistant coach for her local Team In Training and will compete with the Sony Triathlon team, attempting to help her studio win the entertainment industry’s Malibu Triathlon in September.

And she hopes to ride her luck at Jeopardy! as long as it holds.

“I know that I have the best job in the world,” she says. “But I also know that it’s not going to last forever. So I’m trying to prepare myself for what’s next.”

That means creating opportunities out of her interests. And there are many. Miyahara would like to develop positive TV programming, do animation voice-overs, write a children’s book, develop an athletic clothing line for real-sized women, create a line of greeting cards, found a non-profit.

Miyahara may have detoured from management to entertainment, but might she eventually fuse the two? “Let’s see what I can make happen,” she says. “Anything is possible.”

Leadership in Peru

Guest post by Bruce Avolio, Executive Director of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking and Marion B. Ingersoll Professor of Management

Recently on a trip to the Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario, I was asked, “how does one lead when they are not sure where they are going?” Many might say, just watch our U.S. politicians if you want to see how! More seriously, the more dynamic environments become, the more likely leaders are going to need to lead not knowing exactly where they are headed. As I thought about this question I went back to a recent trip I had taken to Peru. Peru is one of those South American economies that is shedding its past – recent past in terms of military dictatorships – and growing at a healthy clip, at least for the more educated class in places like Lima. Peru has a rich history that dates back well before many of the world’s other well-known societies, starting with the Incas which are considered one of the modern ‘older’ civilizations. There are two civilizations that pre-dated the Incas going back at least 5,000 years.

As Peru accumulates wealth, it is now able to invest in discovering its past. It is not an overstatement to say the Inca culture, traditions, food and history are becoming an economic force in Peru. Just see Machu Picchu and you will understand what I mean. This is one of the most amazing cities built by the Incas high atop a mountain that is one of the true wonders of the world. Going to Peru and its many historical Inca sites, taught me a lot about how advanced this society was. For example, the Incas knew which foods to eat that had low cholesterol, they knew how to build structures to withstand earthquakes, and they knew how to do brain surgery. And the answer to that question posed to me in London, Ontario lies in how the Incas built buildings. They built buildings by seamlessly integrating them into the rock upon which they were built. The Incas saw mountains as sacred. Rather than dig a big hole and then build the foundation, they built the building into the existing foundation, which took more time and care, but as we can see, lasted longer. This was the case for all buildings throughout Peru, ranging from temples to residences for Inca workers.

How does the Inca foundations help me answer the Ivey question? One must build an authentic foundation for leadership on which the rest of the structure can be created. We see organizations that have no ‘firm or genuine’ foundation, no core values and therefore no solid basis to lead into an unknown future. Many times we have to go backwards in order to move forwards and answer where we are going, which in this case is into the unknown. And I promise I will avoid writing a pop book “7 glorious Inca Principles of Effective Leadership.”

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.