UB/Towson MBA student Aaren Salido shared is thoughts on how the global field study will impact his professional life. Here is his essay.
The Greece field study offered a great experience that contributed to my MBA experience and professional life. Though there was not a single experience that was a profound, ‘this has changed my life’ type of moment, there was several “smaller” bits advice and professional knowledge that was shared that I will take away and apply as I continue on my current career path and finish the MBA program.
In a nonconventional way, the trip offered a sort of classroom experience that I have not been accustomed to recently in the program. Being out of the country, I have been used to the online classroom format. Having the immediate feedback and questioning was something I appreciated and significantly contributed to how I learned about the current Greek economy, issues, and companies. The company visits and lectures offered direct insight on what could be left to interpretation with reading online articles and discussions and watching world news.
From visiting the different Greek companies, I was able to learn that, contrary to popular belief, businesses are still operational and not all is loss in Greece. When I enrolled in the course, most of my professional peers laughed at the thought that there were viable companies that were surviving with their current political and economic situation. From the visits, we saw companies that were still in business and found success in the other continents during this Greek economic crisis. In fact, this was primarily true because these companies constantly look for new market opportunities. Folli Follie’s start and continual penetration with the Asian market has shown proven success. And the African market was a sought after market for companies such as Wurth and Metka.
This experience has shown the practical applications of concepts learned in the MBA program that are outside the day-to-day operations of my job and company. A key concept exemplified by many of the companies is that globalization is important not only for the bottom line, but also to survive. From the visits, I learned that no matter how different the industry, the approach to expand globally into new markets stayed the same.
Working for a small business, construction general contractor, I will try to hone in on some concepts learned from Metka. The professionalism and presentation, stress on quality, turn-key projects, and positive partnerships with energy contractors is something me and my company need to work on. As my company grows and expands globally, we need to offer quality construction programs as we work with different global markets. Compared to Metka, I feel that we lack a consistent means of accomplishing quality turnkey projects as we tend stress the bottom-line over professionalism which, as a result, influences our relationships with subcontractors and vendors outside the US.
Additionally, the status quo is not always the safest solution. New approaches may be needed though it may go against what is commonly done or what has been done in the past. Not a lot of people will like or agree with your business tactics or will be comfortable with it, but in times of crisis, this may be the only solution. Diana Shipping, for example, showed that going against the grain and sticking to their strategy will be successful in the long-run and allow them to thrive while competitors, who seek short-term success, will fail.
Finally, I learned that no matter how tumultuous economy, it is important to remember the client and quality of the product/service you provide. We are not immune to such crisis, especially the in the general contracting industry. In fact, in 2008, I personally saw the negative effects of an economy in recession to the U.S. construction industry. All the companies we visited stressed their commitment to satisfying their customer and market needs. This is a rather simple concept, but I think it easily forgotten when budgets get blown and money is not readily available. Instead of sacrificing quality and customer satisfaction, many of these companies showed that sticking to this rather simple concept has allowed them to stay in business even in the most unstable economic situation.
In May 2015, a group of four undergraduates and 11 MBA students particpating in a Global Field Study to Greece. Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Tiago Ratinho and Merrick School of Business Director of Communications, Danielle Giles teamed together to capture the experiences of the students. Students were granted an opportunity to complete an optional assignment reflecting their study abroad to Greece.