TCU International Study Trips: South Africa

AquilaSafari in South Africa
The Neeley School of Business’ international study trips are an integral part of the TCU MBA experience. These trips enable students to see business through a global lens. Students are able to talk with global executives to get a better understanding of international business, including marketing, manufacturing, distribution and supply chain and much more.

For students, these trips offer invaluable educational and cultural learning opportunities that they can’t get in the classroom. “The study abroad aspect drew me to TCU,” says Carrie Davis, TCU MBA candidate.

In the years past, groups of MBA students have traveled to Italy, India, China, Chile and the Dominican Republic. This summer a group of students, including Davis, traveled to South Africa. It was an experience Davis chose because she knew she might never have the chance to visit that country again. “It was my one chance to understand how things work, and see the country,” she says. “We took advantage of every minute we had. We saw everything there is to see.”


Here are a few of Davis’ thoughts about her experience in South Africa.

How is business conducted differently in South Africa& compared to the United States?  

Unlike the startup environment in the United States, where being an entrepreneur is seen as a “cool” thing to do, most entrepreneurs in South Africa start companies “not because they want to, but because they have to,” says Davis. “They’re doing it to stay alive.”

Davis says she observed grave economic disparity between socioeconomic groups in South Africa, a result of decades of apartheid. “It’s an anomaly almost [for those living in poverty] to try and start something of their own. It’s hard for residents to see past the present and to have the vision to think beyond their origins.”

How did this trip differ from an average tourist's trip?

The focus of the South Africa trip was on visiting companies in Cape Town, including several outreach companies, including Learn to Earn, an organization that seeks to teach people professional and life skills such as sewing, computer design and baking, which they can use to make a living, and Get Smarter, a company that offers online classes for professionals.

The students gained exposure to several different industries from the South African point-of-view, including manufacturing, technology and finance. “The biggest takeaway,” says Davis, “was observing how to do business there.” The environment is very different, and the experience opened her eyes to the ways people conduct business around the world.

The students also visited Claytile Joostenburg, the most efficient brick factory in the southern hemisphere, and Silulo Ulutho Technologies, which provides Internet access and computers to people in South African townships.

Dr. Rueben Richards, former CEO of Cape Chamber of Commerce and former Secretary General of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, also spoke to the group about the history of apartheid in South Africa and what it will take to transform South Africa into the country it was meant to be.

When the students weren’t engaged in business pursuits, they were busy being tourists. Davis participated in a shark dive, visited a 200-year-old brandy distillery, stopped into a local winery and visited the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

All of TCU’s international study trips offer an enriching experience for MBA students, both academically and culturally. Learn more about the Neely School of Business study abroad trips here.

Interested in getting a TCU MBA? Request more info about the Neeley School of Business graduate program or apply now.

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