MBA students tour South America and Europe

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MBA students with NZ Consul General in Sao Paulo

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MBA Students at the European Union HQ, Brussels

Massey University MBA students recently investigated the management practices of businesses overseas during study tours of South America and Europe.

A group of 23 students went to Belgium, Holland and Germany while 25 others visited Argentina and Brazil to learn how businesses in different parts of the world handle strategic challenges similar to those faced in New Zealand.

MBA director Andrew Barney says what is learnt on tour often has a direct impact on students’ thinking about New Zealand.

“The MBA international study tours are an opportunity for our executive students to live and study together, in an environment where they are away from the routines and pressures of work and home.

“The tours are an educational highlight of the Massey MBA programme and serve to strengthen student networks by ensuring a good base of shared experience.”

Following their return, several students on the European tour have met to exchange ideas with Massey’s ecentre chief executive Steve Corbett. These students had visited European universities and institutions engaging directly with business to foster commercial research programmes.

“The enthusiasm the students have on their return is tangible. By sparking the imagination of a group of successful business executives, you can affect significant change within an economy,” says Mr Barney.

The European tour visited the University of Leuven Research & Development centre and the Creative Factory in Rotterdam, which is a not-for-profit incubator that supports entrepreneurs in the media, fashion, music, design and business services. They also visited Food Valley in the Netherlands, which supports collaborations between food companies, research institutes and Wageningen University. Their final stop was the Stuttgart Automotive University.

On the South American tour, the students teamed up with members of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to visit several Argentinean companies including one of the largest wineries in Argentina, Bodegas Norton. They also visited Wal-Mart, and Boca Junior Soccer as well taking part in a community development project delivering nappies to low-income families as part of a parenting project.

The focus of these visits was on strategic management and how companies overcame their challenges, for example the way South American politics plays havoc with long-term planning. In addition, Wal-Mart shared its sustainability strategy, while Boca Junior spoke about their marketing strategy and how to make the most of 18 million fans.

The South American tour then went on to Brazil where students visited a technology park, a dairy manufacturing centre, and had a meeting with the New Zealand Trade Consul. Later that week Fonterra’s Southern Cone General Manager Fabrizio Jorge spent half a day with the group talking about the Brazilian market and Fonterra’s South American strategy. They also visited the Port of Santos which handles 25 per cent of the container traffic in Brazil.

Mr Barney says both groups arrived back in New Zealand tired but very enthusiastic about their experience.

“While common overseas, study tours of this nature are extremely rare in New Zealand, due in part to the complexity and cost involved in running them. There is little doubt however, that the value gained from these tours make them well worth the effort, benefiting both the students and New Zealand enterprise generally.”

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