Published 01/30/13

Waves of Bryant students hit international shores during winter session

For 50 Bryant University MBA students this past January, the rubber met the road in Santiago, Chile.

The graduate students took part in Bryant’s inaugural Global Immersion Experience (GIE), a three-credit MBA course that includes travel and work with partners in another country – in this case Chile, which has one of the leading economies in Latin America. They’re part of a contingent of 255 Bryant students, including 166 who participated  in the winter session Sophomore International Experience, who crossed international borders in January.

The Bryant MBA students -- 42 full-time and 8 part-time -- arrived in Santiago on Jan. 6 and hit the ground running.* Organized into ten teams related to their MBA specializations, the students began a week of meetings with their clients – senior executives of international firms and government agencies and entrepreneurs with whom the students worked throughout the coming semester.

The GIE is just the latest expression of the University’s commitment to developing leaders capable of meeting international challenges.

Specifics of the projects are confidential but each is significant and the stakes are high: According to Prof. Sam Beldona, Ph.D., associate dean of the Graduate School of Business, each client expected its team of Bryant consultants to develop a business plan that can be be put into place quickly. Beldona described a few of the projects:

  • a major drug store chain with a logistics challenge;
  • a government agency with two financial projects;
  • a nonprofit corporation seeking ways to expand partnerships;
  • a state-owned service seeking a review of its business strategy.

In April, the teams will present their final recommendations to their Chilean clients via Bryant’s video conference services.

According to the European Foundation for Management Development, the global market for MBAs has exploded. But not all MBA programs are created equal.

“Very few MBA programs build meaningful international projects and experiences into their curriculums,” Beldona noted. “Bryant’s GIE is different. Through practical, real-life experiences undertaken in an international corporate environment, the GIE gives our students an advantage because it includes a unique immersion into international business practices.”

Global engagement is a cornerstone of Bryant’s strategic vision, and the GIE component of Bryant’s MBA program is just the latest expression of the University’s commitment to developing leaders capable of meeting international challenges. Since 2006, more than 1,300 Bryant sophomores have take part in the three-credit Sophomore International Experience (SIE). This winter session, 166 sophomores departed on one of five two-week SIE trips that introduced them to cultures and commerce in China, Panama and Costa Rica, Germany and Spain, Italy, and Malaysia and Singapore. ( This Facebook album features some of the submissions to the SIE photo contest, and you can read about the Panama/Costa Rica trip in this student-written blog. )

For many students, SIE is their first opportunity to travel abroad and understand a different culture. Having this experience early in their academic career often inspires future international interest and prompts further study abroad, international internships, or both. (This past August, Bryant’s International Business Program launched a semester-long study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain, that incorporates a 12-week international internship at some of Salamanca’s leading businesses and organizations.)

SIE has drawn the attention of Sovereign Bank and Banco Santander, which in 2011 signed a three-year agreement with Bryant. "We believe the best investment for the future is in higher education,” Jorge Morán, president and CEO of Sovereign Bank and Santander U.S. country head, said when the agreement was announced.  SIE “serves an important role in students' futures by providing them the opportunity to learn about other cultures and how businesses operate globally.”

* In addition to Beldona, two other College of Business faculty members accompanied the GIE students to Chile: Buky Folami, Ph.D., associate professor of accounting, and Teresa McCarthy, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing.

(This story was originally published Dec. 17, 2012; updated Jan. 30, 2013)