DECATUR – Tim Venverloh found a trip to China worthwhile and informative, even after about 25 years of experience in business.

Venverloh took the 11-day trip this year along with a group of other Millikin University students completing the master's in business administration program. The trip comes at the conclusion of 17 months of course work.

“I wish I had done it 10 years ago,” Venverloh said. “I learned a lot of valuable information that can apply in my business travels.”

As Millikin prepares to start a new class in January, it is trying to create a unique program, said Mark Munoz, an international business professor who went on the trip. Economics professor Anthony Liberatore is the director of the MBA program.

Not all of the students are straight out of high school, Venverloh said. Many of the students in the program tend to be mid-level executives at Decatur-area companies, Liberatore said.

Interacting with Chinese students is something Munoz hopes those from Millikin don't forget. The Millikin group traveled to Shanghai University of Finance and Economics to listen to business leaders and government officials, he said.

“It changes your perspective of the world,” Munoz said. “In today's business, relationships are important to identify things that make them tick and develop trust.”

Legal contracts aren't as widely used in China, Venverloh said. Instead, relationships are important, which means successful companies need to have a presence there.

As part of the class experience, students from the two countries take part in a business competition. The teams were tasked with developing a strategy for a perfume company looking to expand in the U.S., Munoz said.

“It's not just another class project,” Munoz said.

The competition made them aware of the different communication styles, Millikin student Greg Mills said.

“They molded to get to our presentation style,” Mills said. “Instead of repeating facts, it was an efficient presentation of facts in a way that is engaging.”

Mills, another experienced business veteran, enjoyed the trip, saying it was more informative than previous times he has traveled to China.

“I learned a great deal,” Mills said. “Things are changing so quickly in the world.”

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