In recent years, Millikin University's Master of Business Administration (MBA) cohort has ended the spring semester with a trip to China to study international business. This past May, as a culmination of the program, MBA candidates and faculty traveled abroad to a slightly different destination: Koblenz, Germany.
For the first time since 2005, MBA students spent a week in Germany visiting companies, taking cultural tours, and immersing in international business by studying at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management.
A privately funded business school based in Vallendar and Düsseldorf, the Beisheim School of Management is a leading business school in Germany and is continuously ranked among the top business schools in Europe.
"We went back to Germany because they have a true economy with high wages and they're a good example of how to survive in the modern world," said Dr. Anthony Liberatore, director of Millikin's MBA Program.
During their visit to WHU, teams of Millikin MBA candidates were tasked with crafting a market-entry strategy for a premium watch company in either Western or Eastern Europe. The teams had to present their business plans in front of faculty members as part of their studies.
MBA graduate Christa Jordan, from Mt. Zion, Ill., said, "It was good to get their perspective after we made our presentation. Being able to work with a group, generate ideas, and present the ideas to the professors was a challenging project but a good learning process."
Prior to their case work, the students took part in several lectures at WHU, learning about marketing and luxury brands.
"The students were provided information on Europe's economic landscape as well as information on business development," said Dr. J. Mark Munoz, Millikin professor of international management. "They were given preliminary information to help them with their case work and to understand how to do business in Europe."
Tyler Braniff, a recent MBA graduate from Springfield, Ill., added, "WHU was a first-class institution. We had five days to put together a business plan, and it gave us an opportunity to really dig into the European market. Looking back, the trip provided many great hands-on experiences."
In addition to their studies at WHU, students and faculty had the opportunity to visit a number of companies, including Klöckner Pentaplast and Hack AG.
The Klöckner Pentaplast Group is among the world's largest suppliers of films for pharmaceutical, medical devices, food, electronics and general packaging. Hack AG manufactures bakery products and offers frozen bakery goods. Hack AG was founded in 1930 and is based in Kurtscheid, Germany.
"During their visit to Hack AG, the students were able to see how high-end food manufacturing in Europe is done," said Dr. Munoz. "The tour was unique because the students met the CEO of Hack AG, who happened to be very engaged throughout the process. He explained what the company was all about and what they hope to accomplish in the future."
When asked about the academic lessons during the immersion trip, Dr. Liberatore says, "One of the biggest lessons is that it opens up people's perspectives on international business. Throughout our MBA Program, students learn about business in the U.S. and how to create a business plan. The immersion trip is unique because it provides an international perspective. The students learn the concepts, but they also learn how to apply them through a case study."
Recent MBA graduate and Millikin Graduate Programs Coordinator, Marianne Taylor added, "The willingness of the companies to open up to us was amazing. In terms of the case study, WHU had high expectations of us, we learned a lot."
Click here to read more about the MBA trip to Germany in an article from the Herald & Review.