European adventure: Learning business one country at a time

While obtaining an MBA in business management and working full-time, Andrew Eberline was approached with an opportunity he couldn’t resist.

“Another student told me he was considering the trip to Europe, and there was an opportunity to get school credit for the trip,” says Eberline.

Eberline is referring to the International Business Seminars Program that was developed by Mihaylo College. The college offers students the opportunity to travel to either Western or Eastern Europe where they participate in lecture-discussion sessions with executives of various multinational corporations, local European business firms, and government agencies. For most students, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.

For two weeks in May, Eberline traveled to four countries in Eastern Europe, and visited eight different companies. By taking this trip, he hoped to learn how European business differs from the United States along with other expectations.

“I hoped that I could relate my professional line of work as a construction project manager to other industries, like manufacturing, and recognize the similarities and differences,” says Eberline.

While Eberline was indeed able to see manufacturing, sales and corporate environments on the MBA trip, the experience opened his eyes to much more.

“The world is a smaller place these days, and despite this, some of the problems facing other countries are difficult to fully understand until you have the chance to visit and talk to the people living through them,” he says.

Eberline’s visit to the Czech Republic gave him a cultural perspective when the group had the opportunity to speak with Czech people about the rise and fall of communism and what it was like to live through that politically and economically tumultuous time.

“One woman told us about how her family was visited three times by the secret police because friends and family reported her father for doing side work,” says Eberline. “She also told us about grocery stores being empty with the exception of bread made with sawdust as yeast.”

In Hungary, the group spoke with a bank executive about the impact of the mortgage crisis that is currently devastating the country. The depreciating home values and weak Hungarian currency, the forint, has led to the Hungarian Banks to require mortgages to be taken out in Swiss currency, the franc.

“When the number of forints to equal one Swiss franc doubled, it meant the whole country had their mortgages double,” says Eberline. “The default rate is now very high, and the country has mandated that each bank can only apply to foreclose 150 homes per quarter.”

With each of the discussions Eberline attended on his trip, he became more passionate about the importance of graduate students embracing an opportunity to understand the global economy we live in.

“Understanding the culture, customs and history behind the business environments was invaluable and something I will draw upon both in my current role and in the future,” he says.

With the European trip behind him, Eberline continues his work as a project manager in the construction department at Disneyland while finishing his MBA part-time. As graduation approaches in fall of 2014, he continues to use his experiences with Mihaylo College to move up the ranks in the job he loves.

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