Written by Dr. Haozhe Chen, Associate Professor, Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management
I have been involved with COB’s summer study abroad program since 2010, and I have served as a faculty leader for trips to Australia and China. In addition to experiencing foreign cultures, I believe the visiting various companies in foreign countries is particularly meaningful and relevant to our business students. In today’s global economy, no matter where our COB students end up after they graduate from ECU, they are likely to be dealing with international partners. That’s why our college has specific curriculum requirements to develop our students’ international perspective. We also intend to enhance such initiative with our study abroad programs. Therefore, we have put in substantial effort in arranging excellent company visits for our international trips. These visits have been thoroughly enjoyed by our students.
In recent years, our students have visited a wide range of companies on their trips. For example, both FedEx and UPS have hosted our groups at their hubs in Guangzhou and Shanghai in China. Finding out how American logistics companies operate overseas was very exciting for our students. Seeing pallets of Apple’s iPhones at the UPS HUB that were ready to ship to the U.S. (including North Carolina addresses) certainly made our students better understand the close economic ties between countries. We’ve also visited some of the busiest container ports in the world – Port of Guangzhou and Port of Shanghai. Watching thousands of containers being processed for shipping to different international destinations helped our students better understand the complexities of global supply chains.
Our students also had the opportunity to visit some of the well-known international companies on their trips. For example, in China we visited Lenovo’s headquarters in Beijing and Toyota’s plant in Guangzhou. At Lenovo, our students were not only given a private tour of different research labs, they also listened to an American executive’s sharing of his work experience with the Chinese giant. At the Toyota plant, our students learned how the company is making huge investment to expand in the world’s largest auto market.
Besides the global companies, our students were also able to sit down and have meaningful conversations with successful entrepreneurs in China who have turned their small business into large corporations. During the interaction, the insights and experience shared by them were thought-provoking and motivational.
To give our students the opportunity to better understand the entire business environment, we also scheduled business visits to other types of organizations. For example, we have visited the Federal Reserve Bank in Australia and the Futures Exchange Market in China. Also, we have visited one of the largest real estate developers in China to gain an in-depth understanding of China’s booming real estate market.
Through these company visits, our students have gained significant amount of knowledge about international business that is not possible to learn in the regular classroom. More importantly, they have developed a well-rounded international understanding that will benefit them for their future careers. We can conclude that these company visits have been priceless to our students. We therefore encourage you to take advantage of our well-designed COB study abroad trips.
Students are encouraged to join the COB in Summer 2015 in Australia: http://www.ecu.edu/business/studyabroad/