Published 01/07/16

IB seniors collaborate with C-suite executives during semester-long international consulting projects

“All roads come to… and leave from Belgrade,” said Jovana Hadzi-Tanovic ‘16, in her International Business (IB) presentation. Hadzi-Tanovic, Isabel Gabaldon ’16, and Harlyn Juarez ’16 were one of 10 three-person IB practicum teams presenting semester-long consultancy projects in December for such diverse companies as Alex and Ani, Hanna Instruments, and Hope Global.

Hadzi-Tanovic’s team’s analysis of four Serbian cities’ transportation infrastructure, proximity to potential clients and customers, and economic vitality made Belgrade the most advantageous site for Hanna Instruments’ new sales office.

The IB program "has provided Hanna Instruments with a pipeline of present and future international sales managers"

On another team, Stephanie Davidson ’16 and Jinxiang (Alice) Mao ’16 both speak Mandarin, a skill that allowed them to develop stronger relationships with Hope Global’s Chinese employees.

Each IB team is assigned to a company seeking solutions or recommendations for an international challenge or opportunity. Paying a modest fee to the University, each company is matched with a team that consults with a senior executive throughout the project. Students submit comprehensive reports to their clients and Bryant faculty, summarize the projects in 15-minute PowerPoint presentations, and field questions for 10 minutes.

“The Bryant IB program has provided Hanna Instruments with a pipeline of present and future international sales managers,” said Ross Smith, director of sales – Asia Pacific, Middle East & South Africa. “Each IB graduate speaks at least two languages fluently. With 64 international offices in [more than] 40 countries and [more than] 70 international exclusive distribution partners worldwide, this influx of talented hires will be instrumental in Hanna’s growth.” To date, Hanna Instruments has hired four IB graduates.

This semester’s team, the fourth group consulting for Hanna, provided the company with concrete solutions, said Smith. “Their research has already been reviewed and acted upon by our local office in Zagreb.”

Bryant’s fastest-growing course of study

Success in the IB practicum occurs only if each team member develops a good working relationship with other teammates and if the group works well with the client, said Jacob Jansen ’16. Jansen, with Maura Bourke ’16 and Cathryn Change ’16, took first place for their analysis of the preferred Euro Zone locations to establish a manufacturing facility for Rogers Corporation, a multinational company headquartered in Rogers, CT.  Jansen feels fortunate to have had the opportunity – one he called rare and exemplary –to participate in the IB practicum, which allows students to apply everything they’ve studied at Bryant – communication and business skills, finance, marketing, and global supply chain, for example.

“We learned how to provide very real and accurate results in an extremely professional environment,” said Jansen.

The teams’ IB presentations reflect the program’s commitment to teach these topics as wholly integrated and interrelated subjects, rather than in discrete “silos.” Andres Ramirez, Ph.D., coordinator of the nationally acclaimed IB program and an assistant professor of finance, management, and accounting, credits fellow faculty members for teaching in an integrated fashion. “None of this would happen without the help of others.”

Repeat customers

Not only is the IB major Bryant University’s fastest growing program, it’s also one of the most challenging and competitive programs, requiring fluency in a second language, overseas work and study experience, and a high GPA. After the accounting degree, the IB program and finance vie for second place in their number of graduates, said Ramirez, a Chilean native who held senior finance positions in industries in Chile before joining the University faculty.

Although this was Rogers’ first experience with the IB practicum, the company is seriously considering another engagement, said Brett Weber, global director of operations – EMS Division – Rogers Corporation. The team performed and communicated not as undergraduates but as individuals with five to 10 years’ experience, said Weber. The students’ rehearsal presentation was so outstanding that he told them that he fully expected them to win.

“Their most remarkable achievements were exceeding the expectations that were outlined in our project scope – in a timely manner – and winning the competition,” he said.