UNH MBA students get a close-up look at Shanghai

There’s a new spring break hot spot for career-conscious graduate business students at the University of New Hampshire. But, unlike many of their undergraduate counterparts, they took advantage of the recent pause in classes to meet the leaders of multinational corporations and explore the new global economy firsthand in Shanghai.

A group of 22 MBA students from the UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics traveled to the booming city of international business and finance for a weeklong academic trip that had them rubbing elbows with representatives from Shanghai Volkswagen, O’Melveny & Myers, the U.S. consulate in Shanghai and Emerson Process Management.

“What will really stick in my mind from this trip is the excitement of the students and the way in which the world opened up to them, unlike any other trip abroad. Many have been to Europe and experienced somewhat familiar languages and cultures, but in China, nothing was familiar to them. What that does is shock people into a whole new level of awareness,” said Barry Shore, professor of decision sciences and academic director of the MBA program who accompanied the students to Shanghai.

Also traveling with the students was A.R. “Venky” Venkatachalam, professor of information systems and chair of the Department of Decision Science, who said the economic activity in Shanghai is “proof of the interdependent economy as a result of globalization. We study about it, and we read about it. But when we go there, we see the proof.”

Students echoed Venkatachalam’s sentiments about globalization. For Jared Kosin of Richland, Mich., the trip opened his eyes and gave him an invaluable look behind the scenes of doing business in Shanghai. The trip was one of the highlights of his MBA program.

“Students who could not go, or simply chose not to go, missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime. Those of us who shared the experience have a piece of real knowledge that will serve us incredibly well in future careers,” he said.

Several of the companies visited were American firms, causing a number of students to rethink their post-commencement plans and look to employment opportunities abroad.

Like Kosin, Mike Lavoie of Portsmouth said the trip was the highlight of his academic year.

“I found myself breaking down preconceptions based upon secondary sources instead of primary contact,” he said. “The more I travel, the more I realize ‘folks are folks’ and that fear of the unknown is an impediment to both business and cultural exchanges. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, and more than anything else, the willingness of the Chinese to embrace opportunities has made me recognize just how many opportunities I have as a well-educated American, and that I should pursue them with enthusiasm.”

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