The first thing you need to learn when you arrive in Saigon is that when you cross the street you look straight ahead and never at the oncoming motorcyclists racing around you. Just keep walking and they will adjust to your gait. If you stop, well, you’re a hood ornament.
Our University of Alabama Executive MBA Class of 2017 arrived in Saigon, Vietnam on February 25, to begin the first leg of their international study abroad trip. The students not only learned to navigate the streets, but many of them enjoyed a foodie motorbike tour where they sampled local cuisine at stops along the way. But nothing compared to experiencing the streets on the back of a bike.
The EMBA study abroad trip is part of the International Business course taught in the final semester. It is a highlight of the 16-course program. The trip focuses on strategy, marketing, finance, economics and global business. This past February and March students met with senior officials at companies in Saigon, Vietnam and Singapore.
In addition to visiting with Huntingdale and Esquel Garment Manufacturing in Saigon, the students delivered two NGO consulting projects to Mekong Quilts and La Petite Epicerie.
Mekong Quilts main aim is to create sustainable employment for underprivileged women in remote and rural regions of Vietnam and Cambodia. La Petite Epicerie partners with a network of small farmers in southern Vietnam committed to produce premium food with strict standards ensuring the best end product.
The EMBAs presented to the companies a detailed expansion strategy and global business model on entering the U.S. market (La Petite Epicerie) and for growing its U.S. presence (Mekong Quilts).
The class continued their trip with a stay in Singapore. Students visited healthcare company Edwards Lifesciences and Open Port, the first neutral mobile platform connecting shippers and carriers. They also met with iProperty, a leading real estate website company; FMC Technologies, a global provider of equipment and services for the energy industry; DBS Bank; Facebook and media management GlobeCast.
According to Barry Navarre, Business Development Manager at Southern Telecom, “The greatest benefit of being on the UA EMBA trip is the exposure to different cultures and how those cultural differences impact business environments.”
In Singapore students took in a city tour of Little India and culturally-rich Chinatown with its temples and traditional shop houses. With the sweeping view of the harbor from their hotel, the students took advantage of visiting the many sites and nightlife in their evening hours.
And, if Vietnam and Singapore were not enough for one visit, half of the class extended their trip with an optional post to Koh Samui, Thailand for another stamp in the passport. The optional post trips have become very popular with the EMBAs for providing “bucket list” trip excursions to not-to-be-missed destinations.
For more information on the UA EMBA Program and the international study abroad trip, contact Cheryl Altemara at firstname.lastname@example.org or Hayley Ray McNeill at email@example.com, or call 205.348.4501.