For ten days over spring break, I had the opportunity to travel to three countries with the Iowa State University MBA program through a study tour elective class. Students learned about how business is conducted in other countries, and then had the opportunity to visit six different companies. This year’s trip was led by management professors Sam DeMarie and Jim Summers.
DeMarie has led multiple excursions and enjoys these trips, “because they provide me with a chance to see new perspectives. This benefits both my research and teaching. It also allows me to learn about the students and better understand how they see the world.”
This year’s study tour had stops in Milan, Italy; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Lyon, France. Milan is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world, and we had the opportunity to have a guided tour and discussion while walking through the heart of the fashion industry.
We visited Nestle, Logitech, the World Trade Organization, and Torraccia del Piantavigna, a family winery in Italy. Though 10 days in Europe may seem more fun than academic, interacting with professionals at these companies was an extremely interesting and valuable learning experience for all of us.
“The MBA study abroad equipped me with the international insights and perspective of business leaders in their respective fields that I can use to further my understanding of international business,” said first year MBA student Erik Hammill. Erik enjoys video blogging, and made two vlogs of his experience. Feel free to check them out using the links at the end of this post!
DeMarie shared that students can experience a variety of benefits from participating in these trips. “It is often the unplanned parts of the trips that can be the most beneficial. One very bright student on our trip was struggling to see where her non-business background (prior to the MBA) might lead. At visits to two very different organizations, we were hosted by people both with very similar backgrounds to hers. This experience opened her eyes to a much wider set of career options as she approaches her MBA graduation.”
Outside of the company visits, we had the opportunity to explore each of the locations we were in with many guided tours, as well as free time to further explore on our own. It was rainy many of the days we were traveling, but that didn’t slow us down. One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to know students in the MBA program who aren’t in my cohort, as well as getting to know the students in my cohort even better. The memories and jokes we have from the trip make every day in the classroom even more enjoyable!
Being the foodie that I am, the food was without a doubt one of the best parts of the trip. Fondue is a specialty in Switzerland, so a group of us went and enjoyed it together- it was terrific. And of course the gelato was fantastic as well! Lyon is considered the food capital of the world and we had a final group dinner at Bouchon Le Musee, a restaurant that specializes in traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. The meal was delicious and a great way to end the trip with everyone. Overall, this trip was a great learning experience for all, in more ways than one!