E.U.-based Companies Benefit from Assumption College MBA Students’ Expertise
Eight Assumption College MBA students traveled to Poland for three weeks recently to work with business owners, helping them to develop strategic business plans—and, in doing so, gaining valuable insight into the European Union business world.
The collaboration was part of the College’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) international component, “Doing Business in a Foreign Country.” This is the third consecutive year that Assumption students applied business skills and theories learned in the classroom to help Europe-based companies. The previous two years saw Assumption students traveling to Italy to advise companies in the Milan region with international expansion plans.
The students—who are enrolled in Assumption’s accelerated Early Career Track (ECT) MBA program—stayed in Poland from May 22 to June 16 where they put their education to practice in a real international business environment. Using their expertise in management, marketing and communications, finance, operations strategy and economics, they learned how Poland’s economy operates—as well as why it’s been so economically successful as compared to other European Union-member countries—and helped several companies formulate strategies that will allow them to thrive in a competitive business environment.
“In today’s rapidly changing economy, it’s essential for business students and professionals to have a global perspective, hands-on international experience, and an understanding of foreign markets and practices,” said Professor Eric Drouart, director of Assumption’s MBA program. “Assumption’s international practicum, which is an integral part of our ECT program, is a transforming experience for the students, who are called to operate out of their comfort zone to deal with a culture and business practices that are different than in the United States.”
The students were paired with companies in the towns of Bielsko-Biała and Bierna (approximately two hours from Krakow) to learn the ins and outs of running a successful business in Poland. The organizations included a children’s clothing company, a private medical clinic, a sporting center, and a piano restoration business.
Stacy Danquah, 23, of Worcester, Mass., worked with Pianina Fortepiany Service Musical, a family-owned piano restoration business in Bierna.
“My responsibilities included analyzing the company’s website against those of competitors and making suggestions for improvement; comparing their marketing tactics to those of competitors in Poland, Germany and the United States; and making recommendations that would allow them to gain new clients in both Poland and the rest of Europe and sell more pianos,” she said.
The students also enjoyed a vibrant, engaging cultural experience. They attended lectures at two universities in Krakow and explored the region’s museums and historical sites, such as the Wieliczka salt mines, the Wawel Royal Castle, as well as the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps, the Rynek Market Square; visited the southern mountainous resort town of Zakopane; and took a weekend trip to Prague, Czech Republic.
The “Doing Business in Europe” practicums in Italy and Poland complement Assumption’s already established presence in Europe; the College opened a campus in Rome, Italy, in 2013.
“The Assumption MBA international component has a lot of value,” Danquah said. “You get to experience firsthand how businesses are run in another country. You are also able to put to use all the skills learned in the classroom throughout the year. Experience is the best teacher. Being in a foreign country, experiencing its culture, eating the food, working with foreign businesses, and communicating with the locals is an incredible opportunity you are able to experience while also learning about the history of the country.”