Pictured during a presentation at Soochow University are (left to right): Front row — Nina Caraluzzi; Mei-Ying Liu, professor and department chairman at Soochow University; Dr. Alexandra Galli-Debicella and Dr. Ming Ling (Cindy) Chuang, WCSU Ancell School of Business faculty members; Mila Sim; and Nadezda Manaeva. Back row: Lu-Yen Wang, chairman of Vigor International (Hong Kong) Ltd., Roly International Holdings Ltd.; Ryan Haydu, Christopher Joseph; Michael Galvao; Artem Lopatchenko; and Eric McLaughlin.
DANBURY, CONN. — Eight management students and alumni of the Western Connecticut State University Ancell School of Business gained an invaluable lesson in the international network of trade, commerce, supply chains and logistics that holds the global economy together during a recent WCSU international program in Taiwan.
WCSU partnered with Soochow University in Taipei to arrange an 11-day immersion experience in May 2018 that included an introduction to local culture, lectures by academic researchers and business executives, and on-site visits to leading technology, industrial, aviation and retail corporations in Taiwan. The tour was coordinated and led by Associate Professor of Management Dr. Ming Ling (Cindy) Chuang, with mentoring support from Assistant Professor of Management Dr. Alexandra Galli-Debicella. Chuang offered the study-abroad opportunity as part of her management course, “International Business: Asia Pacific Perspectives.”
The WCSU tour group included three 2018 Master of Business Administration degree recipients, three current M.B.A. candidates, one Bachelor of Business Administration degree recipient and one B.B.A. candidate. Participants were Nina Caraluzzi, of Oxford; Michael Galvao, of Waterbury; Ryan Haydu, of New Milford; Christopher Joseph, of Danbury; Artem Lopatchenko, of Danbury; Nadezda Manaeva, of Bridgeport; Eric McLaughlin, of Hopewell Junction, New York; and Mila Sim of New Milford.
The collaborative program with Soochow University and Taiwanese businesses enabled the WCSU management students to learn first-hand from executives at production, research and administrative sites for major corporations with extensive trade and commercial ties to the Asian and global economies. Field trips included visits to the industrial gas company for the electronics industry Praxair Chemax Semiconductor Materials (PCSM), the sports equipment maker Johnson Health Tech, the global logistics company Dimerco Express Group, the digital technology support firm New Era Education, the Taiwanese national aviation company EVA Airlines, and the food retailer Vigor Kobo Cake and Pastry. The group also visited the Tonglite Logistics Center in Taipei and the Science and Technology Park in Hsinchu, Taiwan’s hub for high-tech research and development.
Chuang emphasized the importance of giving the students direct experience of business in a global context. “This study-abroad course gave our students a much better understanding of multinational corporations’ operations strategies and exposed them to a truly global business environment, which is one of the most important topics taught in today’s business schools,” she said.
Galli-Debicella observed Taiwan offered an especially attractive location for the WCSU students to gain a deeper understanding of global trade and investment relationships. “Taiwan maintains extensive trading relationships with both China and the United States,” she said. “When the United States does something, it will have a positive or negative effect on Taiwan and the rest of the world. Intellectually, our students understood this, but now they understand how these actions have a ripple effect in daily practice.”
The WCSU students took a private tour of PCSM’s facilities, changing into lab coats, safety goggles and work shoes. “As a Praxair employee in the United States, visiting our facilities in Taiwan was an invaluable learning experience,” said Caraluzzi, a 2018 M.B.A. recipient at WCSU who now serves as corporate communications associate at Praxair. Prior to the tour, the students learned from PCSM’s president about the role of Praxair’s gases in the electronics industry and about the company’s latest technology. “It was amazing to meet colleagues and see our operations,” Caraluzzi noted. “I am so grateful to both WCSU and Praxair for receiving this life-changing opportunity as a student and employee.”
The WCSU group was also met by leading executives at EVA Airlines where they experienced training for water-landing emergencies in a flight simulator, and at Johnson Health Tech where they received a briefing from the company chairman on the history of the world’s third-largest sports equipment manufacturer. At Vigor Kobo, students even enjoyed the opportunity to try their hand at making the retailer’s signature pineapple cake.
“We had unbelievable access to the presidents, CEOs and other high-level executives of these companies and to their production facilities,” Galli-Debicella said. “It gave us a deeper understanding of how their companies work and how these different organizations run their international businesses. Their biggest customers are the United States and China, and these executives have to determine how to deal with both countries and make them happy, even when they are not getting along with each other.”
She also noted that the visit to the Science and Technology Park introduced the group to Taiwan’s version of Silicon Valley. “We got a first-hand preview of what innovations are in the pipeline and will be coming out of Taiwan in the years ahead,” she remarked. Other visits during the tour offered insights into international supply chain management and the infrastructure of cargo transport and port facilities critical to the daily flow of global commerce.
The educational benefits of the Taiwan tour were enhanced by a cultural immersion experience that took the students across the island to visit national parks, attend performances of native dance and music, and enjoy the island’s cuisine, often in the company of Soochow students. Galli-Debicella said that all eight WCSU students shared at the conclusion of the trip that the experience has been life-changing, opening them to new global perspectives while forging strong bonds of friendship among their group and with their Soochow student hosts.
“Students tend to think locally,” Galli-Debicella observed. “We use textbooks and case studies to understand that we are part of a global economy, but it’s one thing to say and study this — it’s another altogether to see the global economy in action while you are in a foreign country. What this trip has shown is that we are all interconnected.”
“Our students did such a fantastic job asking questions, engaging with our lecturers and corporate presenters,” she added. “This was a learning experience for them and they took it very seriously.”
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