A Cultural Journey – Jennifer Syed

As an Indian, going back to India through our university for a study abroad session was a very fulfilling and emotional experience. To learn about the contrast of business environments made it fulfilling, whereas noticing the cultural difference between the US and India made it emotional. Our study abroad course, “Innovation in Emerging Markets,” headed by Dr. Rangapriya Narasimhan was the perfect course to understand the business differences and approaches used across the US and India. As our cohort consisted of students from different parts of the world. like Germany, China, Turkey, Spain, United States, and Italy, seeing them adjust to the culture difference showed the major cultural variances between India and the US.

Students enjoying some leisure time after company visit day in the traditional attire of India: “Salvar Kameez” and “Bindi”

Coming to the difference in business environment, India in many business ways runs on “jugaad,” that is where different things are cobbled together to make it work somehow. Whereas in the United States, due to the detailed processes, every business transaction follows a proper and similar structure. In business terms, the presence of institutional voids in India makes it challenging to enter a market and makes it an emerging economy, whereas the structure that follows most of the business practices in the United States makes it more organized with less of risks.

Students enjoying traditional Indian vegetarian food called “thali”

Moving on to the cultural difference between India and the US, without a doubt, India and US are culturally pretty different, in terms of languages, eating habits, clothing, religious beliefs and many more to count on. Seeing the students adapt to the difference in the culture was remarkable, as being an Indian, I can sense it would have been a roller coaster ride for most of them! But coming to the commonalities in the differences, both the countries have amazing people to help you and smile at you and that was what led most of the students to thrive through the cultural differences.

Company visit at the Indian Oil Corporation in rural India, Bhiwandi

India being home has always given me a very patriotic feel to it as the culture and life there symbolizes courage, tolerance, love, family and kindness. The US is becoming a second home to me with the kind of opportunities, growth and motivation it gives out as a country to people from different parts of the world. Having the opportunity to experience both the countries in a business and cultural context has given me a deeper understanding of the intricacies of culture that drives the business in both the countries.

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Real Estate in Shanghai – Patrick Kelley

In the pre-departure meeting my team and I learned our client was Maxview Group – a real estate company/boutique relocation specialist to Fortune 100 companies seeking to settle executives into Shanghai, China. None of us had experience in real estate, or knew yet the exact details of the project we were about to embark on. Further, when we arrived we learned that Maxview was in the midst of a physical renovation of their office, as well as a digital renovation of their product and service offerings. Working with an in-house IT team, Maxview sought to mount several new digital products, and had just signed on to a new project with a large international carmaker. Our presentation focused on introducing them to some of the lean startup techniques that had revolutionized Silicon Valley and that we hoped would help them effectively transition into a leaner digital company from a physical real estate company.

Having just finished first semester classes in strategy and marketing, our team applied some of the most basic building blocks we had learned to Maxview’s situation. Principally, we ended up doing a few examples of potential customer segment profiles we believed they could reach with their new digital products. We also took on a crash course in lean startup methods, and worked to relate them back to basic analysis tools we had learned like SWOT and Porter’s Five Forces to help better understand the differences between the U.S. real estate market and the unique real estate market in Shanghai.

This project was a nice blend of allowing team members to use their strengths where applicable, while challenging all of us to learn new material and make recommendations with this information. One of our members has had experience in digital marketing, which translated well into the customer segment profiles and general solutions we offered. Another has a design background and zeroed in on the idea of offering innovation as a core competency that we had observed in Maxview’s shift towards digital platforms. While we were largely pointing out actions we already saw Maxview taking, we were also able to offer a presentation focused on innovative strategies because of her past experience.

Our principal point of contact was Maxview’s Director of Marketing, and we built a positive dialogue with him on the transition Maxview was making, taking care to be inquisitive with him in particular because he had spearheaded several of the new digital products we worked on suggestions for. Ultimately, the feedback we provided was more generalized than specific, which ended up being a positive choice in light of the fact that we learned about a whole new product in development from the CEO/Founder at our final presentation. Ultimately, we believe Maxview to be an innovative company on the brink of a major transformation of its core business into a radically new field. We hope we provided solid recommendations of lean startup innovation practices for a rapidly shifting company in a rapidly changing market.

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.

Implementing Marketing Strategies in Munich – Daniel Barry

Working on a project for BMW Motorrad (Motorcycles) during the 2017 International MBA Practicum was an experience I will never forget. Our case focused on marketing challenges directly impacting regional operations for BMW Motorrad in the current year through 2021. My group consisted of an extremely diverse set of MBA students both at USD and the Munich University of Applied Sciences who each had unique inputs on how to approach the project. Our final presentation brought new, compelling recommendations to the Regional Manager and Product Manager that they were eager to implement. We were able to establish a network with these individuals and I have maintained contact with them regarding progress and how we could help back in San Diego. As the target demographic for BMW Motorrad, I found it hard “turn off” the project and could not stop jotting down ideas as they came to me.

When I did break away for some downtime, Munich gave me plenty of sights, sounds and tastes to take full advantage of. I enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in Olympia Park on my way to visit the famous BMW Museum and BMW World. My colleagues and I also enjoyed delicious food and of course, beer, at many of the famous beer halls around the city. A great way to take a rest day is to visit the Deutches Museum that had amazing technical exhibits and industrial inventions through history. At the end of my trip, I was able to break away for a few days to visit Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Austria for some skiing! The weather was outstanding and the mountaintop views were breathtaking – I recommend this to anyone with the slightest interest because it’s only a few hours from Munich by train. The Practicum in Munich was far beyond the highlight of my (brief) stint as a USD MBA student and I am looking forward to my next one wherever it may be!

To check out more student experiences, please visit our Study Abroad blog page.

Information on international opportunities can also be found on our website.