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Doing Business in Germany
By Dr. William Tullar, Professor of Business Administration
Since 2006, The Bryan School of Business and Economics has offered MBA 745, Doing Business in Germany, a week-long, faculty-led study abroad course at the University of Mannheim in Germany. This course has always been well received, and many past students have indicated that their course in the ‘Spring School’ at Mannheim was the highlight of their studies at UNCG. The business school at Mannheim has always proven to be a warm host, going above and beyond regular hospitality to include UNCG students in parties and social gatherings with other students.
This year’s ‘Spring School’ was a little different than previous offerings in that this is the first year that the program included students from another university. MBA students from Washington University in St. Louis made up part of the students that went, and they mixed well with the Bryan School MBA students. The ‘Spring School’ always begins with a welcome dinner on Sunday night. This year it was at the Rheinterrassen Restaurant overlooking the Rhine River.
Students of MBA 745 enjoying some free time in Heidelberg, Germany. The castle in the background is Heidelberger Schloss, the city’s most recognizable landmark.
On Monday, the students got a walking tour of the University of Mannheim and a walking tour of the City of Mannheim. The City of Mannheim has many sights of historical significance including its water tower in the city center. The University is located in a recently restored palace on the east bank of the Rhine. Unlike many other European universities, Mannheim actually has a campus along with the palace where most classrooms are located. That afternoon the students visited the John Deere factory nearby. They took a tour of the plant and had a lecture and a Q & A with Mike Matero, finance director.
On Tuesday morning, the students were treated to lectures on the Germany economy and the European Union. Given the problems in Greece and the bailout efforts, the lectures struck a timely note. Then that afternoon the group travelled to Frankfurt to the European Central Bank (ECB). There they ran into the local ‘Occupy’ group, and then spent the afternoon having a Q & A with the Director of Public Information for the ECB. Dinner that evening featured a visit to the Apple Winery, a fine Restaurant in Frankfurt.
On Wednesday, the students began their day with lectures at the University of Mannheim on Market Entry and Marketing in Germany and Innovation Management in Germany. In the afternoon, students were treated to a visit to the advertising firm WOB. The president of WOB, Mr. Frank Merkel, is a great speaker and very personable. He provides wonderful insight into business to business marketing and advertising.
On Thursday, the group traveled to historic Heidelberg. Heidelberg is a university town on both sides of the Neckar River. The students were given a walking tour of the University, the historic churches, and the surrounding town. After their city tour, the group went by streetcar out to Heidelberg Cement. The facility tour there is especially interesting in that it is hard to imagine how a high wage country like Germany can profitably manufacture a commodity product like cement.
On Friday, the students took the train and bus to historic Speyer. They got a walking tour of the Cathedral and the picturesque Clock Tower. That afternoon, they visited Weingut von Winning where they got a tour of the wine cellars and the vineyards. The week was finished with a farewell dinner in Neustadt. On Saturday, it was off to the Frankfurt Airport and the welcome rest of the flight home.