Welch College of Business Offers Global Collaboration Experience to Students
Sacred Heart University’s new Global Experience Project is creating much excitement among participating business students. “This global project is brilliant. It specifically helps students reach a better understanding of what real-world business is all about,” said Esmeralda Boraj ’15, a student in the John F. Welch College of Business (WCOB). “I think this project is worthwhile and definitely an enjoyable learning experience.”
As part of SHU’s goal to increase global awareness campus-wide and a desire to prepare graduates for a global economy and worldwide interaction, the WCOB is collaborating with the School of Business Administration of Bangkok University, Thailand, and the MBA program at the University of Saint Joseph, Macau, China, to kick off the Global Experience Project.
“The overall mindset with this project is that it should be treated as if it were a real business and that all group members in the U.S. and in Thailand are valuable assets to its completion,” said Ryan Arther ’14. “We are all working very hard at crafting the database and information we need in an organized way to achieve business goals.”
Under the direction of John Chalykoff, dean of the WCOB, undergraduate students will collaborate with their colleagues overseas to develop a business process to issue and, in return, they will receive a database system to support the issued business process. At the graduate level, cross cultural virtual teams will be formed and asked to develop a course project involving the research of global leaders in the U.S. and in the Greater China area.
“Our goal as a business program is to develop our students into the next generation of leaders who are globally aware and globally confident,” Chalykoff said.
Chalykoff, together with Kittipong Laosethakul and Grace Chun Guo, faculty members in the WCOB, recognize the importance of studying abroad, but also the reality of financial limitations. A significant number of students do not experience a semester abroad simply because of the expense. “With this Global Experience Project, students are experiencing all the outlets of global interaction without actually traveling,” said Chalykoff.
In the summer of 2013, Laosethakul visited Bangkok University and presented the idea of a global experience program to Sansanee Thebpanya, the dean of the School of Business Administration at Bangkok University. Thebpanya also wanted to expand and do more with the University’s entrepreneurship program. Considering global outsourcing as a key factor in today’s business world, both partners considered the project a critical part of 21st-century business education. Sansanee appointed Professor Raweewan Kaewwit, director of the Academic Affairs Office, to work with Laosethakul and connect their business classes through the Global Experience Project.
At the same time, Guo also made connections overseas when she was asked to teach an MBA class at University of Saint Joseph in China. Together with Jose Alves, an MBA faculty member at the University of Saint Joseph, an international collaboration between their two graduate classes at both universities was created that will be piloted this spring.
“The way business is progressing in the world today, especially with the telecommunication technology that is available, organizations are required to work with companies and contacts overseas without physical presence at the location, said Laosethakul. “Students need to be prepared for that mentality and have those skills.”
Through the project, students learn what obstacles they will face when working with an international team. These can include scheduling conflicts, cultural differences and language barriers. Students utilize telecommunication skills through helpful mediums such as Skype, LINE and email to make contact with their counterparts in Bangkok and soon Macau.
The diligence and motivation of students on both ends of the project have made it an immediate success.
The Global Experience Project is expected to invade all outlets of the WCOB and eventually the entire University, with the hope of eventually incorporating major companies worldwide.
“Since it is so experimental and flexible, the idea would be to implement this program within all majors on a University level so that every one of our students will have this type of project experience,” said Chalykoff.
From this pilot, the dean hopes to eventually attract businesses companies to become involved as well. “Over fifty percent of our faculty here at the WCOB have international connections. This advantage creates endless building opportunities for us as we move forward,” he added.