Neeley Students Gain Insight on Doing Business in Asia

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Each year, students in the Neeley School of Business are given the opportunity to participate in a study abroad program. During these trips, students are exposed to a global perspective and gain a firsthand look at how business is conducted in other cultures.

This March, students in the MS Supply Chain Management program traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Hong Kong on a nine-day trip led by Dr. Laura Meade and Assistant Dean Mark Muller.

On this trip, students explored the opportunities and challenges of sourcing from suppliers and delivering to customers in Asia, one of the fastest-growing emerging markets, with untapped natural resources and labor, as well as a growing manufacturing and transportation infrastructure. They learned about resources, supply base capabilities and the current trading environment of Vietnam and China while exploring infrastructure issues, legal restrictions, requirements for doing business and unique environmental and societal opportunities.

Chris Dennard, MBA ’16, and Jennifer Klein, MBA ’16, were among the group of students who traveled to Asia. Dennard, who currently works as marketing and sales coordinator at Shoppa’s Material Handling in Fort Worth, says the trip solidified his interest in the logistics and warehousing aspects of supply chain management.

“Before the trip, I had been primarily focused on logistics for my preferred area within supply chain, but after seeing the different companies and hearing their employees share their experiences, I found myself constantly thinking about various warehousing strategies and equipment utilization,” he says. “The trip helped me see a larger picture of the supply chain that I want to be involved in, and for that I am grateful.”

The group visited several businesses in Hong Kong and Vietnam, but Dennard says one of the most memorable was Wahl Clipper. “The facility was incredibly clean and orderly, not to mention incredibly efficient,” he says. “Our class was given a tour of their office building as well as their warehouse so we were fortunate to see all the machinery and labor that goes into a trimmer. They shared their future goals for growth and the tactics they were practicing in order to achieve those goals. It was a very rewarding experience.”

Jennifer Klein, director of intermodal solutions at BNSF Railway, was struck by how countries in the region work together to support infrastructure development and the movement of goods.

“Seeing the results in action of decisions made to support the movement of goods further drove home the importance of supply chain management and its impact on any one business entity,” she says.

She says this trip gave her a new perspective that she’ll be able to immediately apply to her work at BNSF. “Currently, my role within BNSF is calling on our customers who make sourcing decisions. They are analyzing the tradeoffs between factory locations based on costs,” she says. “The experience gained from the trip will allow me to relate our business to their needs. It further drives home the point that, while important, transportation is one small factor in the entire supply chain.”

Both Dennard and Klein agree that the trip was a highlight of their time spent at Neeley.

“The trip brought together everything I had been taught in the classroom over the past 18 months,” Dennard says. “We were able to see practices and methods we had done case studies over, and that was extremely helpful in regards to better understanding the lessons. All the lectures, case studies and reports provided essential lessons, but seeing these first-hand was icing on the cake for us.”

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