For the show, the seniors in Dr. Clint Reylea’s Managing in a Global Business Environment class are broken into teams of three to five at random, and assigned a country to research, market and pitch. They are judged by members of the Alabama Development Office staff on their efforts – that include audio and visual presentations, food, beverages and “swag.”
While donning clothing from other cultures might be considered “geeky” to some, it’s exactly for what Sorrell College students strive.
GEEKS sums up the goals for business students at the University, where activities and instruction strive to produce graduates who are “Globally Aware,” “Engaged with the Business Community,” “Ethical Decision Makers,” “Knowledgeable to Compete,” and “Successful.”
“It’s really cool when you start looking at countries other than America,” said Chase Taylor, a senior marketing concentration major from Eufaula. “In America, we feel like we’re a melting pot and that we know a little bit in all areas and dabble a little bit in everyone’s culture, but doing a project such as this, you figure out how wrong is.”
“You figure out there’s a lot of the world you don’t know, and that there’s a lot you can learn from other cultures,” he said.
Taylor’s group was assigned Ghana, and he said the team was focusing on overcoming the stereotypical view of the African nation – once known for, among other things, the slave trade.
“With Ghana, you usually think of it and Africa as a whole as impoverished. In the last 20 years, though, you have a robust oil industry, gold and other precious metals. Today, Ghana is sort of now owned by Ghana and lot of business is being done there,” he said, pitching one of the nation’s more attractive commercial qualities – it’s primary language of English.
The Sorrell pitchers for Lithuania told a similar tale.
“As far as business is concerned, Lithuania is very similar to America. It’s on the Freedom Index (which ranks countries on 10 indicators) in the same bracket as the United States, meaning it would be very easy to transact business there. The only barrier is language,” said Shannon Nisi, a Global Business/Risk Management Insurance student and president of Gamma Iota Sigma, an insurance-related honor society.
Savannah Sexton, a senior from Luverne, was quick to point out the northern European country was listed as “the 50thhappiest country” in the world, and that the country is safer than the U.S.
Frazier Shoultz, from Destin, said the Lithuanian team learned a lot about the country but also learned how to pitch the country as a travel destination. Savannah Carnell, a Dothan native who has been studying risk management and insurance, said the project gave students the chance to pull skills learned in various courses together to make a consolidated push about an unfamiliar topic with team members who may or may not have worked together before.
“Really, what we hope to accomplish is that Sorrell College students, regardless of their fields of study, are well-rounded and globally competitive,” said Dean Dr. Judson Edwards. “Events such as the International Trade Show serve both as a demonstration of student learning and as activity that demonstrates to the students what real-life work is often like – pulling divergent thoughts together into a successful, well-researched venture.”
“Dr. Reylea’s direction of this program, and the support of the Alabama Development Office, is a major part of the trade show’s success, and I appreciate their efforts to make this successful for our students,” Dr. Edwards said.