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Management of Technology Students Get Valuable Leadership Lessons Abroad | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
April 28, 2016
IMTP students

A motorbike foodie tour, sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City and 79 degree weather. It sounds like a dream vacation, but for 21 M.S. in Management of Technology (MOT) students, it’s applied learning.

For two weeks in January 2016, the MOT cohort traveled throughout Vietnam and Singapore as part of the Technological Leadership Institute’s (TLI) International Management of Technology Project (IMTP), a course that gives students the opportunity to analyze cultural, economic, governmental and social perspectives in an international business context.

“The IMTP trip is definitely a differentiator. It’s unlike anything else in other graduate programs,” says Marcus Ellson, MOT student. “The whole experience was very enjoyable. We not only learned what makes a business run in an international setting, but a local expert in each location we visited gave us insight into the culture.”

Carl Kime, who has been teaching the IMTP course for eight years, strives to give his students a unique understanding by combining cultural experiences with a first-hand look at the inner workings of foreign business. Students visit as many as five companies or organizations per day, and participate in lectures and discussions with company executives, government officials and university faculty. This year, students had opportunities to explore enterprises in Saigon Hi-Tech Park, meet with the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, and network with professionals at 3M Vietnam, just to name a few.

“During each visit to a particular company, we try to allow time for the CEO to express his or her vision, a tech manager to explain any challenges they may be facing, and the students to just explore the floor,” Kime explains. “Students are learning the complexities of managing people in an international environment. They’re understanding that in other places there are things to be aware of. They learn to evaluate the costs and benefits of establishing business in other countries so that they’re able to make intelligent decisions about where to collaborate.”

Ellson says the visit to the Boeing Training Facility in Singapore was a highlight for him.

“Trying out the flight simulators was awesome, especially for us who are engineers. Overall, we got to visit a great variety of businesses and business sectors, and it was all incredibly valuable and well-executed.”

Kime chose to bring the 2016 MOT cohort to Vietnam and Singapore because of the countries’ striking contrast to each other.

“Asia is a continent that’s experienced a lot of growth. When we plan this trip, I like to think about where a hot place to establish a new facility would be – in this case Vietnam, with its rising middle class and strong education – and juxtapose it with a very established place like Singapore. We want students to be comfortable operating in an international environment and not just a Minnesota, or even a national environment. If you don’t understand why international business is important, you aren’t ready to lead a major U.S. company. What you know isn’t relevant if you can’t translate it into other cultures.”

Ellson works as a business analyst for new product development at Trane, a manufacturer of HVAC control systems. He says what he learned about the culture within international businesses, their priorities and how they go about solving problems has been incredibly valuable to his career.

“The insight I gained has helped me build a foundation for how I make business decisions and communicate. I now understand how a country's history and culture impacts business operations and decision making, and I can use this knowledge to better understand Trane's international customers and their business practices.”

Kime says his goal with the IMTP course is to give students the opportunity to use everything they’ve learned in the classroom.

“In the first 18 months of the program, students develop a comprehensive analytical tool set, and that entire skill set is applicable at different times on the trip.”

Despite their full schedule of corporate visits, the students do have some free time, during which they take a tour of each city they visit. Kime likes to think of this as a way to educate his students without them realizing they’re still in class, gaining critical insight. He says IMTP, along with its companion course, Global Management of Technology, work hand-in-hand to give students the best picture of the entire technology ecosystem, from cultural issues to business operations, and Ellson agrees.

“Each of the cities we visited had a different feel, and it was interesting to see the contrasts. We also got to see how government factors into international business. Our guides were excellent, always pointing things out and giving us little bits of information about the local culture as we traveled between company visits, and we were able to ask questions.”

Ellson says in addition to the fantastic professional development opportunity, IMTP also provided a chance for the cohort to get to know each other.

“We spent a lot of time with our individual study groups over the course of the program, but the trip allowed us to really build friendships, bonding over dinners out and sightseeing. I think everyone would agree that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

For more than 15 years, MOT students have participated in the International Management of Technology Project, and many say it is the highlight of the degree program. Attend an information session to learn more about how IMTP and a Master of Science in Management of Technology can benefit your career.

The IMTP trip is definitely a differentiator. It’s unlike anything else in other graduate programs. The whole experience was very enjoyable. We not only learned what makes a business run in an international setting, but a local expert in each location we visited gave us insight into the culture.

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