More than 40 members of Saint Louis University's full-time, one-year MBA program kicked off 2011 with a trip to Hong Kong for the completion of their study abroad course requirement.
Accompanied by finance professor Neil Seitz, Ph.D., and Troy Turnipseed, associate director of graduate business programs, the students left St. Louis, Monday, Jan. 3, on an 18-hour flight that would begin more than a week of concentrated study and cultural exploration in one of the world's most exciting cities.
Weekday mornings were spent in the classroom where Seitz shared business case studies involving Hong Kong or China and students participated in extensive Q&A sessions. Guest lecturers from Hong Kong businesses also shared their experiences with the students as well as off-site visits to business and government offices.
Seitz, who teaches the classroom component of the study abroad course, says the morning sessions were intense.
"This is a course, not a vacation, so we take our classroom time seriously," Seitz said. "We met from 9 a.m.-noon Monday through Friday. The class also included seven out-of-classroom activities and four in-class guest speakers."
Seitz said the importance of understanding the global market is invaluable for students pursuing a career in international business.
"Hong Kong is the gateway to China, which is predicted to be the world's largest economy in the near future," Seitz said. "We are increasingly sellers in China, including items produced by U.S. firms in China for sale in China, with engineering work possibly done in India and customer support coming from a call center in Manila."
"Globalization of business involves everyone selling their skills in an international marketplace," Seitz added. "Because of the growing importance of international business, overseas experience is an essential part of the management progression path at many companies."
For Seitz, the trip offers many rewarding experiences.
"Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities so I enjoy watching its development, walking its streets and eating in restaurants where I am the only westerner. I love to teach, so teaching in one of my favorite environments is good all the way around," Seitz said.
"I particularly enjoy hearing from the students about what they found and learned when out networking and exploring on their own."
Seitz also had the opportunity to reconnect with alumni, some Asian and some American, who have made Hong Kong their home and found business success there.
MBA student Susan Hartmann said that much like most SLU programs the trip to Hong Kong was a well rounded and balanced experience that she won't soon forget.
"It was more than a business education, it was a cultural education," Hartmann said. "The classroom discussions and guest speakers were relevant to international business, more specifically to the Hong Kong and Chinese marketplaces. I especially enjoyed the visit to Invest Hong Kong and the Stock Exchange."
Hartmann added that spending 10 days abroad with your classmates creates a bond that will last well after completion of the MBA program.
While the days were filled with visits to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, networking events with business professionals and an event at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, students found plenty of time to explore the city.
In addition to historic cultural sites, rich scenery and great places to eat, shopping takes center stage in Hong Kong where there is truly something for everyone.
A highlight for some of the students was a visit to Sam's Tailor to order a custom made suit. Known as the home of the 24-hour suit, Sam's Tailor is famous world-wide for its unquestionable reputation for quality - and a clientele list that reads like an international "Who's Who."
SLU's accelerated MBA was launched in 2006. A three-term program beginning in June and ending the following May, the immersive learning experience is designed for those willing to make the most of their time and get ahead faster. The study abroad course takes place between the fall and spring semesters.
Turnipseed, who has been part of the program and the trip since it began, believes it is an unforgettable and enriching experience for the students.
"For the last five years, students have come back to talk with me about their one-year MBA experience, and the most talked about experience and memory is the study abroad trip to Hong Kong," Turnipsed said. "It's unlike anything they have or will experience in their lives."
"It defines their program and confirms that they made the right choice to purse their MBA in our accelerated format. The culture, combined with the coursework and their classmates is a formula for success that can't be duplicated."
Learn more about the One-Year MBA