SJIM Students visit Seattle University and Fortune 500 companies in the USA

The first SJIM Immersion Program to Seattle took place from June 25th to July 4th 2018. The program was jointly organized by SJIM and the Albers School of Business and Economics, Seattle University, USA. Six of our students took part in the program, which saw them take part in programs at the American university, as well as interact with senior executives in Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Seattle.

Our students attended sessions at the Albers School that were especially tailored to give them insights into contemporary American business and management practices. Notable among these were the session on the US business environment conducted by Dr. Eunice Rhee; an introduction to the American political environment by Dr. Ajay Abraham; an insight into culture and race issues in the US by Mr. Tyrone Brown and a class on affective leadership with Professor Bill Weiss. Students visited the headquarters of Starbucks, where they interacted with senior Starbucks executives in each of SJIM’s areas of specialization. Thus, the students got personalized career advice from Sena Kwawu, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Finance and Shared Services; Josh Guenser, Vice President, Finance; Eunice Sumner, Vice President, Marketing; Martha McElroy-Rojas, Director, Customer Financial Services and Carey Morgan, Manager, Global Staffing. Students found the executives gracious and informal, and could interact with them in a surprisingly easy-going manner, which benefitted them tremendously. Sharon Schwartz, Assistant to Senior Vice President, Corporate Finance, and Sue Fox, Project Manager, Corporate Facilities gave the students a tour and brand walk of the campus.

Visits to the headquarters of Microsoft and the Boeing Factory were also much appreciated. Students were given a full tour of Microsoft and developed a deep appreciation for how organizational structure and design contributes to Microsoft’s performance. At Boeing, the students were fascinated by the operation management at the aircraft manufacturing plant, and got to see employees busy working at manufacturing the over fifty planes the plant churns out every month. Students also had cultural immersion opportunities in Seattle. These included a behind-the-‘seams’ tour of Safeco Field, Seattle's famous baseball stadium; an Imax 3D experience at the Pacific Science Center; a cruise through Seattle harbor, the third-largest cargo gateway in the United States; a visit to Pike’s market, the city’s oldest farmer’s market and Seattle’s iconic Chihuly Garden made of glass. Personal consumption heavily drives the US economy, contributing to 70% of America’s GDP. Our students got a taste of consumerist culture by spending a few hours at Walmart, a low cost operationally efficient retailer, and later, at more differentiated “high-end” retailers at Seattle’s largest mall. They even indulged in a considerable amount of shopping!

SJIM places on record its sincere gratitude to Dr. Madhu Rao, Associate Dean at the Albers School, and Dr. Joe Orlando, Director of the Center of Jesuit Studies at Seattle University. They were instrumental in hosting our students in the university dormitories, and even hosted all the meals. Our students were impressed with their hospitality and thoughtfulness, for example, with how they introduced them to different cuisines and restaurants at each meal. We are also grateful to Dean Joe Phillips, Dr. Ajay Abraham, Dr. Nadeje Alexandre, Amelia Marckworth, and all the staff and students at Seattle who accompanied our students around Seattle. Our students returned from Seattle with many pleasant memories, richer in knowledge and cultural experience.

Student Testimonials:

“From the time we landed, I learnt a lot about the culture, the weather, the way of greeting and the cuisine. I felt very welcomed… The three sessions [at the university] exposed me to a different level of thinking”

“The people here [at the university] have been so kind and hospitable and I would like to thank them tremendously for this wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank them for showing us the cultural differences [present] in the [United] States.”

“The experience was amazing both culturally and professionally. From getting your own lunch at the cafeteria to visiting the biggest MNCs of the world – it was all wonderful. The staff of Albers made us feel so warm and welcomed. The classes and presentations were enlightening to us as future managers… [The classes] showcased to us the similarities and differences USA and India have, both in social issues and in the business environment… overall, the experience will be treasured for life”

“The learning session on culture and equally importantly, the briefs on all aspects of the US business and political environment were so nice… I’ll call this my milestone… This place [Albers School] and people are so nice; I hope to visit again.”

“The hospitality shown to us by Albers was very sweet and kind. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to show us the culture and method of working [in the United States]. The classes as well as the trips to Starbucks and Microsoft were indeed insightful – we have taken several notes to carry forward in life.”

“This experience was amazing as it was our first time in the United States of America. The faculty and students at Albers made us feel we were at home… The activities and presentations by the faculty of Albers informed us about the culture and business in USA… and we are carrying all this that we have understood and learnt back to India… We had a very good visit to the headquarters of Starbucks and Microsoft, which allowed us to see the work culture and ideas we could take back. What I am going to carry back are the speakers’ words that ‘failure should be appreciated’ in order to advance.”