Graduate students from a top business school in Switzerland shared their insights with northern Nevada businesses during a week-long working visit in late March, and the students returned home with deeper knowledge of American business practices.
The University of Nevada, Reno College of Business hosted 28 business students from Switzerland’s Bern University of Applied Sciences, and leaders of both schools hope to expand the inaugural visit into an annual exchange.
Bern University of Applied Sciences is one of 15 leading universities across the world with which the College of Business has established partnerships that include student and faculty exchanges, cooperation on research and joint symposia.
All of the Swiss students are experienced professionals who are seeking master’s degrees in business. They worked on projects such as customer surveys, digital marketing plans and data analysis for Reno-area businesses including Microsoft Corp. and Hamilton Company.
The projects, along with guest lectures during their visit, provided the students with a better understanding of the differences in business practices across the globe, said Dr. Nada Endrissat, a professor at the Swiss university who accompanied the students. The experience built their skills in international business and fostered cross-cultural respect and tolerance.
“Overall, the study tour was an immersive experience with multiple learning opportunities that is impossible to re-create virtually,” Endrissat said.
Participating businesses also benefitted.
“The added value for the business partners is to get an external view and some outside-the-box ideas as students come from a different cultural context,” Endrissat said.
Dr. Sonja Pippin, a College of Business professor of accounting who served as the University’s primary point person for the visit, said the Swiss students’ work with Nevada businesses raised the visibility of the University and the College of Business in the community.
She hopes, too, the opportunities for University of Nevada, Reno students to meet with their Swiss counterparts may encourage Nevada students to take advantage of the many international study programs available at the University.
Leaders of both University of Nevada, Reno and Bern University of Applied Sciences are interested in continuing the exchange on an annual basis, Pippin said, and the international business program in the College of Business seeks opportunities to develop similar programs with other partner schools.
“I believe that getting to know people from different countries and different cultures, speaking different languages, is immensely valuable,” Pippin said. “I first came to the United States on a student visa. One never knows what can happen if you visit a foreign country.”