International business students take learning outside of the classroom
PortaScience, Inc. team member and Fox School student Karl Von Ramm, who graduates in January 2007 with a degree in international business and economics, presents implementation steps for market entry into Mexico
Typically, small businesses pay consulting firms $75,000 and more to find out if it is feasible for them to expand into foreign markets. But this semester, five companies gained professional-quality information at no cost — thanks to 50 students in the Fox School of Business’ international business capstone.
For four-and-a-half years, students in Instructor Nicole DeSilvis’ undergraduate IB capstone have put into action what they learned throughout their years at The Fox School. This fall, student teams helped another five small- to mid-sized firms in the Philadelphia region devise market-entry strategies for breaking into foreign markets. On Dec. 8, the students presented their recommendations.
“By participating in the course, students are graduating with international business knowledge. We’re preparing them for the real world and giving them practical knowledge and tools that will help them succeed in the global marketplace once they have graduated,” said DeSilvis, who also is senior international trade specialist at Temple’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
DeSilvis assigned two teams of five students each to research a different company for each country being considered: South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, India and Russia. The companies were Showmark (manufactures spooling machines for fiber-optic wire), Penn Stainless Products (supplies stainless plate, sheet, bar, structural and tubular products), Sage Technologies (specializes in hand-held helmet-mounted thermal imaging cameras), PortaScience (develops portable and easy-to-use tests for the healthcare, veterinary and consumer markets) and AR Worldwide (provides applications such as radio frequency testing and measurement).
In addition to making presentations, each group was also required to write a 70-page market analysis detailing their findings.
One company, PortaScience (Moorestown, N.J.), wanted to infiltrate the Mexican and Colombian markets for its milk-testing product, PortaSCC. Two student groups — one investigating Colombia and the other Mexico — identified potential issues the company might face, including regulations in the dairy industry, strong competition and political uncertainty.
Despite these obstacles, after completing a full market assessment, including a global industry overview, target country analysis, conclusions, recommendations and implementation steps, the students in both groups felt PortaScience should expand into these countries.
Ayoma Finlay, the director of business development at PortaScience, who attended the presentations, reported that the company is seriously considering plans to implement the students’ suggestions.
Jules Olita, president of Sage Technologies, another company the students consulted for, was overjoyed with the students’ work.
“They did an awful lot of analysis about the situation within the country, and the market analysis, and a competitive analysis. Not only did they give recommendations, they gave us a plan of action. “
While participating in the capstone, the students not only fulfill a graduation requirement, but also gain experience for their resumes they can use to get a job.
One former student, Jack F. Cesareo III, who took the capstone last fall (2005) and graduated from The Fox School in August 2006 with a B.B.A. in international business and finance, will move to Brazil this January to begin his job as the assistant marketing director at Ci&T Software. Through Temple’s SBDC, this company is as client of DeSilvis, who helped placed Cesareo there.
“I learned how to think global and act local,” Cesareo said. “It wasn’t until this program that I truly learned how different we are, yet we all strive for the similarities in life.”
DeSilvis tries to help all of her students succeed in the business world, even after they complete her course. She keeps on file her current and past students, and if a job opportunity arises that fits their profile, she immediately contacts them.
“It’s all about building their resumes,” she said. “Employers want students with practical experience, not students fresh out of college. This course affords the students the opportunity to gain that experience and have an edge over the competition.”
- Rebecca C. Carroll
For The Fox School of Business