Penn State Abington added a twist to the formula for case competitions recently in favor of a design that provided a truly international business experience. Instead of the typical school-based division of teams, the 10 Abington students and the eight from Germany’s Hof University of the Applied Sciences were intermingled to form four teams.
The result? Within a 24-hour time frame, they were compelled to surmount cultural and communication hurdles within their teams en route to solving a challenge posed by an international manufacturing company.
“This case competition brings you real world experience where you’re thrown together with people from different backgrounds and cultures to collaborate and solve problems. It showed me exactly what I can expect once I move into the professional world.”
-- Eric Mansky, student
Abington student Eric Mansky said he quickly realized the value it added to the college’s third annual case competition.
“This case competition brings you real world experience where you’re thrown together with people from different backgrounds and cultures to collaborate and solve problems,” he said. “It showed me exactly what I can expect once I move into the professional world.”
The teams didn’t work from a case study either, which is common in business competitions. They traveled to the headquarters of Reading Bakery Systems (RBS) to gather the information they needed firsthand.
The 24-hour clock for the competition began with an in-depth discussion of the company’s business, led by RBS President Joseph Zaleski (mechanical engineering, 1984). The students broke into their teams, and each group, accompanied by an RBS executive, explored the manufacturing and research and development facilities while questioning employees at all levels to collect relevant data.
Then the teams hunkered down in a company conference room and later at a nearby hotel to massage their ideas into a cogent analysis to present to a panel of RBS executives including Zaleski, who attended Abington.
Exhilarated and exhausted after the panel announced the results, two Abington students reflected on their first international business experience.
“Penn State Abington does a tremendous job of bringing the ‘study abroad’ feeling right to us," Mansky said. "There's no other way that I would meet such a great group of international students, or as I now call them, international friends."
Abington student Abdullah Bas added, “The experience was pivotal to my future in business.”
The case competition was organized by Gary Calore, senior academic administrator for Global Education and Students in Transition at Abington; Dolores Rafter Arevalo, coordinator of the Abington Office of Global Programs; and Professor Maximilian Walter of Hof University.
For more information on global programs at Abington, go to www.abington.psu.edu/global-programs or to learn more about the bachelor’s degree in business at Abington, go to www.abington.psu.edu/business