TCU International Study Trips Part 2: Italy

Justin Thompson in Italy
The Neeley School of Business’ international study trips enable MBA students to see business through a global lens. Students are able to talk with executives to get a firsthand understanding of various aspects of international business, including marketing, manufacturing and distribution and more.

Students have the opportunity to travel to Italy, Chile, India, China or the Dominican Republic. In this two-part series, we’ll talk with students about their international study trip experiences.

Read Part 1 about students’ trip to China here.

Justin Thompson and Leslie Hill are two students who traveled with TCU to Italy this year. Here is what they had to say about the trip.

Why did you choose to go to Italy?

Thompson chose the Italy trip over other international study options because he wanted to learn more about how business is done in Europe, particularly in Italy.

“I feel like Europe is more of a player in the economy,” he says. 

Hill, who has a background in music education and is focusing her MBA studies on marketing, says the faculty participating in the Italian trip, Dr. William Cron and Dr. Robert Rhodes, motivated her to choose Italy for her international destination.

“They’re brilliant,” she says. “They contributed significantly to making it an exceptional learning experience.”

What was the focus of the trip?

Thompson, whose concentration is in finance and entrepreneurship, had the opportunity to meet with leaders at luxury brand retailers such as Ducati. He appreciated their depth of knowledge and candor. “The really didn’t hold anything back,” he says. “The companies were very open and honest with us.”

Visiting the factories and seeing products in production from start to finish was “very, very interesting,” says Hill. Students also were educated on the distinction between marketing luxury products versus essentials.

How is doing business different in Italy compared to the United States?

Thompson picked up on several key differences between conducting business in Italy and conducting business in the United States.

First, “They dress a lot better than we do,” he says, laughing. He also found that Italian professionals are more personable and operate at a slower pace than their American counterparts. Finally, he says students observed how much care goes into the details of a business.

The attention to the finer points also caught Hill’s eye. “Everything has to be just so. And style is so important to them,” she says. “Compromise is not something they do.”

Hill says she was surprised by how small many of the companies are. Because of stringent government regulations, businesses make great efforts to keep things streamlined. And yet, “they still manage to do things fabulously,” says Hill.

What is the most important thing you learned in Italy?

Understanding business through the lens of another culture and gaining an awareness of the international market are the most important things Thompson says he learned while in Italy.

“Italians definitely have it right when it comes to luxury products. There is no compromise,” says Hill. “A luxury product is a luxury product, and it’s okay for prices to align with the luxury nature of the item.”

What would you tell other MBAs considering traveling to Italy?

For students considering an international trip, Thompson and Hill say, “Go.”

“Without a doubt, I would say to go somewhere and do an international trip,” says Thompson. “The international trips really give you more perspective.”

Students also earn three hours of credit for the trip, which in Thompson's case means graduating in December instead of May.

“This trip was probably one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done,” says Hill.

Adds Thompson, “It would be tough to beat the Italy experience."

Interested in global study? Learn more about TCU’s global advantage and request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program or apply now.
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