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Kelley students to gain first-hand business experience in China

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July 12, 2012

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A program through the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis takes lessons in Chinese business from the textbook pages and into real life. Each summer since 1998, Marjorie A. Lyles, professor of international strategic management and the OneAmerica Chair in Business Administration, has taken MBA students on two-week trips to China to allow them to work as consultants for Chinese companies seeking a solution to a business issue and to learn about China first hand.

This year, the MBAs are leaving on July 14 and returning at the end of the month. Those students include Jayme R. Short-De Leon, Jin Chen, Matt Metcalf, Julie Panzica, Ketan Patel and Ryan Litherland. They are all working professionals who think learning more about China is important for their firms as well as their careers.

“When I first heard that the Kelley MBA program offered a study abroad opportunity, I knew I wanted to go on the China trip,” Panzica said. “I have always been fascinated by other cultures, and when I get the chance to immerse myself, it is even better."

During the first eight weeks of the summer, these students met in a weekly class to discuss the economic, political, legal, cultural and historical environments of China. During the second summer session, students travel to China to do a weeklong consulting project, devoting several days interviewing managers and gathering data. A Chinese firm identifies a problem area, and student teams address issues in competitive strategy, pricing and positioning, organizational structure, service quality, customer service or cost control. A month after returning from China, students turn in a written report, which will be translated into Chinese and sent to the Chinese management.

“Our goal is to increase the international awareness of the students in terms of how businesses operate abroad,” Lyles has said. “The more they understand about international business, the better prepared they will be for leadership roles in their companies.”

“The reason for my interest in China is two-fold,” Patel said. “First, from a curiosity perspective of submerging myself in a new and different culture with some of the richest history and traditions in the world. Secondly, [I’m interested in] truly understanding the business environment in China, and how the combination of foreign investors, government and local businesses come together to achieve a common goal. I believe it will be an eye-opening experience, both from a personal and professional perspective.”

Students will visit Beijing and spend one day sightseeing at the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and other areas. They also will have briefings provided by such organizations as the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the People’s Bank of China and Indiana firms in China such as Cummins, Eli Lilly and Co., Faegre Baker & Daniels, Allison and a number of nonprofits.