The School of Business and the Center for International Programs at SUNY New Paltz have partnered with the College of Management, Mahidol University to create a short-term study abroad program that brings undergraduate and graduate business students to Southeast Asia for cultural exchange and development of professional strategies that transcend borders.
This three-credit program, held most recently during Intersession 2018, is led by Associate Professor Davina Vora and centered primarily in Bangkok, Thailand.
Students met with for-profit and not-for-profit organizations such as Philip Morris International and the Baan Doi Home and Healing Center for Children; had lectures at the College of Management, Mahidol University on such topics as internationalization of Western firms to emerging markets and sustainable leadership in Thailand; and engaged in cultural activities such as visiting Sampran Riverside and floating markets.
Graduate student Liza Norcross ’19g (Business Administration) participated in the “Doing Business in Thailand” trip this year, and offered some reflections about the experience (Interview lightly edited for length and clarity).
How did the trip to Southeast Asia contribute to your education?
The “Doing Business in Thailand” program enhanced my MBA education in several areas. We built upon our SUNY New Paltz education by learning more about cross-cultural management, innovations in retail, sustainable leadership, internationalization of western firms in emerging markets and negotiating in Asia.
As a student whose undergraduate work was not in business administration, this program catapulted me into the business world much quicker than the MBA program alone could have.
What was the experience like in terms of your personal growth?
As a non-traditional student, I can say that my experience in Thailand was life-altering. I applied for the program with the expectation that I would learn international business skills, which I did, but I gained so much more personally than I ever could have imagined.
We visited Baan Doi, the Home and Healing Center for Children, and when I saw that visit on the itinerary, I didn’t understand what we could gain business-wise from a children’s home. But the truth is, business is all around us, in every industry, and it’s not all about numbers; you also have to have heart. We learned about three women from three different countries, who came together and built Baan Doi from the ground up, out of love and compassion.
The experience reaffirmed the fact that if you love what you do, work comes naturally. There is so much more to life than money, and while I’m not afraid to work hard, my work has to be for something that moves me, something I’m passionate about. I’m excited to figure out what that is and move towards it!
Would you recommend this program to another student?
Absolutely! This program provided an experience I would not have had otherwise.
As a business student, it’s important to understand that at some point in your career, you will most likely encounter a situation in which having international business skills is imperative – especially skills that focus on the exploding Asian market.
Any study abroad opportunity is beneficial, but this one was incredibly diverse in its itinerary – focusing on large, global corporations, small family-run agricultural businesses, and everything in between. It was a great way to see the diversity the business world has to offer.
This program is also ideal for students like myself, where a semester or summer-long expatriate experience is not feasible due to work and family obligations. I learned and experienced more in this 10-day program than I expected, and more than two months later, I still can’t stop talking about it!