Dr. Matrecia James, Associate Dean, traveled with her MBA class to Japan for a week of business, university and sightseeing adventures. Along with Dean Don Capener and Executive Advisory Board member Mary Kiefert, seven MBA students accompanied James for a week-long journey in Far East Asia.
During the trip, the students met with their counterparts at Waseda University and Doshisha University, speaking about different experiences in their MBA programs. “The interactions we had with the students [from Waseda and Doshisha] really provided insight into the culture of Japan from both native and foreigner point of views,” explained MBA student Siobhan O’Connor. “This was an experience that I would not have had if I had come to Japan on my own.” Martin Macharia echoed O’Connor’s insight about the experience. O’Connor is a Supervisor of Natural Gas Settlements at The Energy Authority in Jacksonville. Macharia will be joining Standard Chartered Bank following graduation.
The students visited with executives from Amazon Japan and spent time with other top Japanese executives, including the CEO of Advantage Partners Tokyo, Richard Folsom. Student Linsey Cuffy stated, “The trending topic in business is to think globally. In order to have a global mindset I have to immerse myself in different cultures. I now have a better understanding of how to communicate and interact with others outside my country. I would never have had an experience like this if I didn’t get out of my comfort zone. “ Cuffy, from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, works for Bi-Lo Holdings Winn-Dixie as a Promotional Specialist.
The group visited Hiroshima and the site of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. They also stayed at Sansui Ryokan, a Japanese inn where they sat and slept on the floor in traditional Japanese fashion. The group even rode the bullet train like many Japanese commuters. “I believe the efficiency of the transportation system establishes a beat that helps to calm and reassure the people,” observed Kiefert. “The people are respectful and cautious as they move from place to place. I found Japan’s transportation system to be a positive experience. “
Dr. James is hoping to lead trips annually for her Leadership Development course to help expose her students to different cultures and business practices in different parts of the world. “Providing students with an opportunity to submerge into a culture is priceless. They can learn far more about aspects of the environment –academic, business and social– by living it rather than only reading or hearing about it,” commented James. “The international immersion experience gives them an opportunity to see business theories in practice.”
Student Lauren Feiner confessed, “At first I was a bit apprehensive about traveling to a non-English speaking country because I was unsure of how hard it would be to navigate around the city. However, I found that most of the signs were in English and 90% of the people were willing to help point you in the right direction using hand signals, nods, and smiles. “ Feiner currently serves as the Director of Marketing at bestbet Jacksonville.
“This trip is evident of the type of experience we feel is important for our business students,” Dean Capener noted. “Enhancing international knowledge through immersed learning opportunities such as this one is essential for every student to experience.” The Davis College of Business is planning on offering more opportunities each year for students to familiarize themselves with business and culture in different parts of the world.