Neeley School of Business MBA students are enrolled in a class to help them prepare for an upcoming study abroad session in India.
Mark Muller, the assistant dean of finance and administration for the Neeley School, teaches the class with Neeley professor Nancy Nix. Both professors were involved with business programs in China, but will spend this semester with students going to India over winter break.
“The goal is to cover a variety of topics and emphasis with each trip,” Muller said. “For India, we’re going to emphasize international business and supply chain management.”
The trip will take place from Dec. 27 through Jan. 6. Students will earn three credit hours for the class and trip combined. The students will take a half-semester module on international business before going abroad.
Muller said students will research different aspects of India and study a Harvard business case analysis on an international elevator manufacturer.
“There’s a lot of relevancy for our students,” Muller said. “When they graduate from the MBA program, there’s a high probability that they will be working with companies that are doing business in India or have connections in India.”
Both professional MBA students and regular full-time MBA students can attend the trip.
At the first meeting, students were asked to form groups to research and present their findings on a chosen topic. David Abergel and Nici Sandberg, both professional MBA students, signed up to cover India’s city of Mumbai.
“I’ve lived in four continents around the world, but not Asia,” Abergel said. “India is a big player, so knowing and understanding how India works is an asset these days.”
Sandberg said she has also never been to Asia, but was inspired to visit after speaking with a coworker.
“I have a marketing mentor who has done a lot of business in India, and she has always encouraged me to go,” Sandberg said. “The U.S. isn’t as big as it used to be, so you have to consider China and India for business.”
According to the CIA World Factbook, over 480 million people make up India’s work force. In total, the United States has about 313 million people.
Nix, who used to live and work outside of Mumbai, presented students with guidelines to obtaining visas and plane tickets in time. The program fee is waived for the MBA students if it is their first time study abroad through the Neeley School.
Nix said she hopes the pre-trip meetings will bring the students closer together.
“They’re going to spend 10 days in [the] country, up-close and personal, so it’s really good to give them a chance to get connected and get comfortable with each other,” Nix said. “That has everything to do with the quality of the trip.”
Developing countries are very different culturally and economically, Nix said.
“There are huge success stories in terms of the business development there, and yet it’s still a country of extreme poverty,” Nix said. “People have found a way to exist in an environment that’s full of contrasts.”
The MBA program also sponsors trips to the Dominican Republic, Chile, Italy, China and South Africa.