Global Business program has worldwide reach

Students on a Nevada Global Business Trip

When University of Nevada, Reno College of Business Dean Greg Mosier created the Nevada Global Business program in 2008, the program featured just one city. That year, 18 College of Business students jumped at the chance to study international business in Toronto. Nearly a decade later the Nevada Global Business program has grown to five cities - Toronto, London, New York, Singapore and Sidney - and 105 students went on business trips this summer.

Mosier says the Nevada Global Business program was a necessary step in the evolution of the College of Business, especially for students majoring in international business.

"Many of our students seek careers in local and regional organizations that have a global presence, and the Nevada Global Business program provides them an opportunity to study in an environment that provides a cross-cultural and comparative experience," Mosier said. "At the time we created the program we offered an international business major, but it did not provide an opportunity to actually have an international experience. This program closed the loop on their international business education."

Jim McClenahan, director of career and corporate outreach for The College of Business and organizer of the program, said the insight gained from immersion into international business practices is one of the main benefits for students. It also can set them apart from their peers, he noted. In highly competitive hiring environments, sometimes it's not enough to just have a business degree- demonstrated experience in a global environment can set University of Nevada, Reno College of Business graduates apart from their peers.

"Students have to show that they are not only competitive in Nevada and the United States, but that they also are competitive globally," McClenahan said. "They understand what it's like to go through customs, deal with people from a different country, and navigate around a city when they are not familiar with the language and culture of the people. It provides them with functional skills as well as very practical business skills."

The Nevada Global Business Program has grown 483 percent from its first year through 2017, and the roster of cities continues to expand as well. In 2018, the College of Business expects to include a trip to Buenos Aires, and in 2019, it plans to add a trip to Cape Town - which would place Nevada business students studying on every habitable continent around the globe.

Students who travel to foreign countries typically visit College of Business corporate partners who have overseas offices, such as drinking fountain and emergency eyewash equipment maker Haws Corporation of Sparks, or rack-mounted power distribution manufacturer Server Technology of South Meadows.

Students conduct company visits every morning and afternoon to learn the challenges of American companies doing business in foreign countries.

"The countries we are in become our classrooms, and the business professionals we meet become our textbooks," McClenahan said. "The most fascinating part of the program is that no matter how far away we are from Reno, we always find someone with a Nevada connection. It shows the students that the world is really a pretty small place, and they need to be prepared to work in it."

The College of Business typically caps enrollment at 20 students for each trip to keep cohesion among travelers. In addition to spending a week abroad, students also spend four weeks in an online classroom prior to departure. The program originally included only graduate students, but it's now open to undergraduate students at The College of Business as well.

Graduate students can receive up to six credits of classroom experience and only are gone from their job or home for a total of two weeks. McClenahan said that's one of the reasons the program has proved so popular among students pursing master's degrees.

"It's been hugely successful in helping them finish their degree faster," he said.

London is the exception to the week-long format. Undergraduate students study for an entire month with professors from the University of Nevada, Reno along with students and one professor from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas' Lee School of Business. Business students from University of Nevada, Las Vegas are welcome to attend any of the Nevada Global Business program trips, but the partnership on the London trip is strongest, McClenahan said.

The break in format provides business students with a more intense and immersive experience.

"Many undergraduate students don't have the means or time to do a full semester abroad, so we created the London program as a fourweek mini-immersive experience," McClenahan said.

Dean Mosier says that immersion into different cultures and business environments often forces College of Business students to think on their feet - a trait that can serve them well throughout their careers.

"In many instances it is possible to observe the maturation the students' experience," Mosier said. "They are thrust into different cultures with different perspectives, and in some cases with a different language. Their problem-solving skills do not necessarily translate to those new environments. They have to begin to account for some entirely different expectations, and that expands their ability to think critically.

"Oftentimes, conversations focus on what it's like working for a Reno office when you are based in another country," Mosier added. "For students who are interested in working for those organizations, the program provides a great window into how global business works. For students who are looking at other opportunities, the skills and knowledge they acquire through the Nevada Global Business program are transferable to any organization."

Students often grill expatriates about navigating the challenges of working and living in another country. For instance, Americans who work for Haws Corporation's office in Singapore have very different working relationships with their headquarters than those who work for Microsoft's office in the Malaysian metropolis.

"They are very different businesses, and how they communicate back to their headquarters in the United States is different as well," McClenahan said. "Our students learn about the challenges, rules and regulations of interacting with those different cultures, as well as issues associated with different time zones."

Take Server Technologies as a prime example of scheduling challenges. With offices in Reno, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and London, there's only one time of day where executives from all locations can all meet virtually for a conference call- and even then it's 10 p.m. for someone and 6 a.m. for another.

As the Nevada Global Business program continues to grow, it becomes more time-consuming for The College of Business staff to find partner corporations in new cities, as well as line up housing, travel and other crucial aspects of the program. But the program remains an integral element of the degree programs offered through The College of Business.

"This program helps us keep pace with best practices of our peer and aspirant colleges of business around the United States that already have robust international business study programs in place," Mosier said. ■