MBA 2017 Candidates Experience International Business in Calgary
In Spring 2017, NAU’s MBA candidates visited Calgary, Canada for their annual fieldtrip to study international business. The trip lasted four days, from March 1st – 4th, 2017 and consisted of touring various companies with the intent to gain a better understanding of how businesses operate within Canada, and how they interact with businesses internationally.
After the first day of travel, Day Two started bright and early. Their first tour was hosted by DIRTT Environmental Solutions, a construction and design company that focuses on a sustainable and modern approach to business. The company uses a 3D modeling program often used to render assets in video games. This tool allows DIRTT’s employees to be especially creative and to give clients exact numbers for price, as well as specs for building materials.
Next was a tour of Village Brewery where students could sample some of Calgary’s finest craft beer, and meet the people that run one of Canada’s many prosperous breweries. At Village Brewery, the students learned about the importance of community in business. Village Brewery is known for partnering with other young breweries, and sponsoring events and festivals in Calgary. Afterward, NAU MBA students joined with MBA students from the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business for a lecture about the healthcare system in Canada. The day concluded at Last Defence Lounge, where students from both programs enjoyed a light dinner and mixer.
On Day Three, the students toured two more businesses: Peace Hills Insurance and Shell Canada. Peace Hills Insurance stressed the importance of maintaining a relationship with clients. Since an insurance company sells a service and not a product, it’s especially important to nurture trust with the people buying that service. At Shell Canada, presentations were given about the company’s procedures for consultation with indigenous people prior to engaging in energy projects that impact native land. The lesson presented was that while some companies respect these laws more than others, being a businessperson in the 21st century means being smart and ethical. After meeting with these companies, some of the students watched the Calgary Flames NHL team clinch a thrilling overtime victory, while others set out to see what the Calgary night life had to offer (even if temperatures were sub-zero!).
Jim Hilliard, MBA graduate coordinator and assistant professor of finance; Theresa Bierer, assistant professor of practice, management; and Jim Morgan, professor of IS, accompanied the students on the trip.
“It was so exciting to see the MBA students interact with industry professionals,” remembers Hilliard, “and see examples of how what they have learned in the classroom is applied in industry.”
Bierer offered her top impressions. "Learning about Native American business enterprises, including the Samson Cree Nation's Peace Hills Insurance Company, was especially interesting. Canadian insurance companies have been challenged by natural disasters, from wildfires, flooding, and hail," she said.
Kevra Barney, an MBA student on the trip, felt it was a “valuable experience” and that “each company we visited talked about competitive advantages and culture, as well as other concepts like the importance of IT, distribution channels, managing risk, and project management.”
On the final day, students toured Glenbow Museum, an art and history museum that features many exhibits on the Native North Americans that, like the U.S., are such a large part of Canadian history. The students left Canada that evening with new knowledge about business operations in Canada and an experience that will surely stand out on their resume.