MBA Students Travel to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Istanbul

SAN FRANCISCO — (Jan. 6, 2012)

Twenty-four MBA candidates from the University of San Francisco’s School of Management will travel to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Istanbul Jan. 6-20 to better understand global business trends and practices. Now in its fifth year, the annual immersion trip provides MBA students with a glimpse into some of the fastest growing global economies, and the opportunity to present original analysis and strategic proposals for industry executives in the region.

Organized and led by USF professors Nicholas Imparato and Mouwafac Sidaoui, the program’s goals include exposing MBA candidates to the thriving business zone, and helping them gain real-world experience and insights into the political, legal, economic, and cultural dimensions of doing business overseas. This exploratory immersion combines the rigorous face-to-face examination of foreign business environments of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Istanbul, with the enrichment and excitement of cultures abroad. The trip also allows the students to begin building an international network of business contacts and friends, while sourcing job opportunities for the future.

“We chose this region of the world because of its strategic importance to multinational commerce,” said Nicholas Imparato, chair of the Department of Marketing and Law at the University of San Francisco. “Abu Dhabi, including its sovereign wealth fund, is a financial power center, while Dubai is the regional headquarters for Cisco, Boeing, and other global firms. Since Turkey, a member of the G-20, is among the world’s fastest growing economies, it is imperative that our students understand business models and best practices operating there. Istanbul serves as the divisional headquarters for companies as diverse as Korn Ferry and General Electric, with huge regional groups extending from Moscow to Johannesburg. There is simply no better trip for students to understand the global context of business. In fact, the biggest problem Mouwafac and I have is saying ‘no’ to business executives who want to come along.”

Separate from visits to historic and important cultural sites, the highlights of the upcoming 2012 journey include meetings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with organizations such as Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, CNN, Pfizer, Flip Media, and Boeing. The following week, the students head to Turkey where they will broaden their perspective with lectures and student-to-student sessions at Istanbul’s globally ranked Koc University. The trip also includes meetings with government agencies, local firms, and business organizations from Huawei (China telecommunications) and Coca-Cola.

While at Coca-Cola, USF MBA students will make presentations to senior management and executive team of the firm’s Eurasia Africa Group (EAG), based on work they have been doing since November. “With the EAG considered Coca-Cola’s growth engine for the next ten years, presenting to this collection of decision-makers is a phenomenal opportunity for our MBA students,” said Mouwafac Sidaoui, assistant professor and director of the Global Entrepreneurship and Management program in USF’s School of Management. “Not only does this allow the students to apply their MBA courses to real-world business environments, it also provides Coca-Cola with fresh, informed insights based on the students’ recent research.”

“The level of interaction we’ve had so far with Coca-Cola employees from South Africa, Kenya, and Istanbul is an experience none of us will ever forget,” said USF MBA student Shital Kadakia who will present to Coca-Cola executives in Istanbul. “We are working with and learning from world-class leaders, including the region’s president, and are solving real global problems while pushing the barriers of our own thinking and learning.”

These January presentations will be followed-up with additional activities upon returning to USF, including a videoconference with the president of EAG and other presidents of several of Coca-Cola’s business units. Coached and advised along the way by professors Imparato, Sidaoui, and James Shaw, an economist in the School of Management, the student presentations consist of statistical analyses, model building, and strategic proposals based on both the company’s proprietary marketing information and original data collected by students in collaboration with with Coca-Cola executives and consultants.

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