Published 08/25/09

Developing a global perspective

There is one expression that Breanne Ricketts '09 will never forget. She remembers her favorite professor, International Business Coordinator and Management Associate Professor Madan Annavarjula, telling her class that "we teach our students to swim by pushing them in the water. You just have to get out there and learn by doing," she remembers him saying.

This was no truer than the first IB practicum that gave senior IB majors the opportunity to work with actual companies to help them develop international strategies.

During the spring, Ricketts and her team, which included Ruth Fuerte '09 and Pedro Piquer '09, worked with Lincoln, RI-based ChemArt to explore national and international opportunities in the Hispanic market. ChemArt, designer and manufacturer of decorative collectibles, is most widely known for creating the White House Christmas ornament each year.

"Latin American culture has always been a passion of mine," says Ricketts, who spent a semester studying abroad in Costa Rica. "Participating in a project involving subject matter that invoked a personal interest and enthusiasm pushed us to do our best."

IB Practicum students 2009

(L-R) International Business Coordinator and Management Associate Professor Madan Annavarjula, Breanne Ricketts ’09, Pedro Piquer ’09, Ruth Fuerte ’09, and John H. Chafee Center for International Business Trade Specialist Gerald Cohen.

At the end-of-semester competition, Ricketts' team captured first place as judged by a panel of business executives and Bryant faculty members, as well as representatives from the John H. Chafee Center for International Business who helped create the partnership opportunities.

Deb Parkinson, vice president of sales and marketing at ChemArt, said the students' work has become a springboard for future opportunities. "They provided us with a view that validated much of what we suspected, but also shed new light on the audience and the culture as we look at penetrating the Hispanic market," she says. "Their recommendations were actionable."

Immersed in a new culture

"This project allowed us to get real insight into possible careers," says Ricketts. "We were pushed to learn through doing actual projects, not just studying theory."

"This project allowed us to get real insight into possible careers. We were pushed to learn through doing actual projects, not just studying theory." 

Breanne Ricketts '09

Ricketts' ChemArt team included three of Bryant's first 56 graduates to earn their Bachelor of Science in International Business over the last two years. Graduates from the Class of 2008 and 2009 are now working in a variety of positions around the world and pursuing advanced studies in a variety of fields.

One of these graduates, Lily Himmelsbach '09, was recruited by American Eagle Outfitters to be a part of the team to launch the company's international brand. Currently her efforts as international coordinator are focused on opening new stores in the Middle East in early 2010. Future plans call for expanding to Dubai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, among others.

Himmelsbach got a taste of what it would be like to travel the world when she studied in Spain during her junior year. "My favorite part of studying abroad was being immersed in a new culture, language, and way of life and somehow using the skills gained through my studies to develop a new breadth of knowledge and a perspective different from a traditional tourist," she says.

Jillian MacIsaac '09, a fellow classmate who studied with Himmelsbach in Seville, Spain, recently began her career in the business operations leadership development program at EMC Corporation in Franklin, MA. Her background in studying Spanish has already proved useful as she has been invited to sit in on conference calls with Latin American partners.

It was her experience taking part in the Sophomore International Experience trip to Paris and London – and then studying abroad – that gave her a more worldly view. "Seeing so many amazing places in Europe, and then living with a host family for a semester, really exposed me to different cultures," says MacIssac.

Lifelong learners

"I feel prepared to contribute to any team whether it is in academia, research, or the corporate world."

Alicia Austin '09

International business graduates are also well-positioned to pursue advanced degrees in a variety of fields.

In September, Cherie Rosemond '09 will enroll at the University of Connecticut Law School to prepare to practice international business law once she earns her Juris Doctorate. She says admissions counselors were impressed with her work at Bryant, and she is excited to enter a growing field.

"As companies become more global, in order to remain competitive in this market, international business law has become essential for companies to operate," says Rosemond. "Bryant's IB program has given me the foundation and essential skills to work in this area of the law."

Alicia Austin '09 will also pursue advanced studies in the Masters in International Economics and Finance program at Brandeis University. She will concentrate in economic policy.

She most enjoyed the cohort aspect of Bryant's IB program that stressed the importance of working within a team. "Because the program mimics the corporate world by stressing team structures, I feel prepared to contribute to any team whether it is in academia, research, or the corporate world," she says.

Phil Cherok '09 will continue his education right here at Bryant in the One Year MBA program. He says his favorite part of the IB program was a globally-focused business simulation in which he competed against his classmates by making decisions about operations, pricing, production, and advertising, among many other principles.

"The IB classes helped me gain a wider view of many different business concepts and how they apply worldwide," he says. "We learned firsthand the complexities of a global economy."