MBA Students
Presenting their work relating to Staples at a
recent Society for Case Research Conference are (l-r): Jeff Shpunt,
Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Karen
Koza, Charlie Price, Shingai Majuru and
Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. Ben Oumlil.

MBA Students bring business closer to home

A 12-hour time difference and 7,000 miles between them make no difference to Ancell School of Business students working with peers in Asia. Dealing with customer-based issues from Danbury to China has prepared them to enter the global workplace with real-world experience.

Associate Professor of Marketing Dr. Karen Koza said students in her spring 2008 marketing management class learned skills that will make them versatile and marketable in today’s fast-paced business world. “Our students will enter a technologically sophisticated job market,” said Koza, “and they need skills that fit today’s global workplace.”

Communication tools used by Koza’s students in their virtual collaborations include email, discussion boards that act as blogs and videoconferencing. Some of these technologies provide the ability to “see” their virtual partners and client company face-to-face. “It is always more engaging to talk to someone you can see,” Koza said, “and it provides an important tool to build relationships across distance.”

WCSU, partnering with SIAS International University in central China, has worked with large, global companies for the past five semesters. The students acquire skills through “real-time” experience in global strategic marketing planning, project management and team coordination. The companies ultimately benefit from a more knowledgeable work force and from customized projects.

My students worked with a leading global retail company doing business in the largest emerging marketThis past year, Staples, the world’s largest office products company with more than $18 billion in annual sales and 2,000 stores worldwide, allowed students to research growth options for Staples in China.

Through the Staples project, students learned the marketing planning process and researched industries, competitors and customers in China.

“My students worked with a leading global retail company doing business in the largest emerging market,” Koza said, “and delivered project outcomes that they were proud to present to our client company, to peers at a Society for Case Research Conference, and include in their job portfolios.”

In addition to learning about target markets, Koza said her students assumed leadership roles, developed cultural sensitivity, time and project management skills, and used information communication technology for “shrinking” distance as part of a diverse “virtual” team.

No other university in Connecticut runs real-time experiential projects using virtual global teams at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Koza said. “These realtime, experiential projects with our client companies are an asset not only to our students, but also to our economy.”

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