This summer, 139 students in Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business will be studying abroad on six faculty-led programs to Europe.

The programs, ranging from four to eight weeks, are among the ways the college prepares its students to join culturally diverse workplaces and do business around the world, says Reed Kennedy, director of Pamplin’s international programs. Employers, he notes, have cited experience abroad and an appreciation for multiculturalism as important factors in business and career success.

Pamplin’s study-abroad programs, Kennedy says, are specifically developed to give students rich learning experiences in business management as well as culture and history. Students in the Scandinavia program, for example, will focus on the products and processes of such companies as Lego, Saab, Fiskars, and Sony-Ericcson.

“Our program combines international business operations classes at home with two weeks abroad,” says Barbara Hoopes, associate professor of business information technology. Following four weeks of classes at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center, National Capital Region, she and her students will travel to Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, where they will visit companies, universities, and cultural sites. The students, who are all earning their MBA while working full-time, will complete projects when they return and present them in a final evening of class.

Another program, led by finance professors George Morgan and Dilip Shome, offers classes in international finance and business along with classes in Spanish art, language, and culture, and home-stays with local families. The program features visits to several businesses and excursions in and around Barcelona.

Discussing the program’s philosophy, Morgan says that strong financial skills are essential for business success, but today’s finance professionals also need to be culturally informed and adept. “Particularly outside the U.S., business discussions often include non-business topics, such as art, music, and architecture; it is an expected part of the relationship between business partners,” says Morgan. “In Europe, many businesses are ardent supporters of the arts and are art collectors.” Their program, Shome says, can help students develop financial skills as well as the basic skills of intercultural interaction.

Finance professor Rodney Thompson, who is co-leading a program to Dijon, France, says that studying overseas can provide a life-changing experience for students, many of whom have never left America. “When they return, they often have not only a better understanding of the countries they visited, but also a better understanding of themselves and the United States.”

Pamplin’s study-abroad programs this summer are: “The European approach to management: Study abroad in France,” led by Richard Wokutch; “Event and technology management on the French Riviera,” led by France Belanger and Pierre Couture; “Doing business in Europe,” led by James Hicks, Lance Matheson, and Rodney Thompson; “Products & Processes in Scandinavia,” led by Barbara Hoopes; “International business and culture in Barcelona, Spain,” led by George Morgan and Dilip Shome; and “Hospitality and tourism management in Switzerland, France, Italy, and Austria,” led by Brian Mihalik and Muzzo Uysal.

The college provides scholarship assistance for study abroad. It also offers students international internships, a global business minor, and programs at Virginia Tech’s Center for European Studies and Architecture in Switzerland and at other universities in Europe and Asia.

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