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Millikin MBA class takes a detour trip to Germany

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DECATUR — A change in destinations only added to the learning experience for students as they recently finished the Master of Business Administration program at Millikin University.

In the past few years, the group has been destined for China but instead shifted its focus in May to Germany, where Millikin MBA students hadn't gone since 2005.

Student Chazaray Carson of Decatur was looking forward to wherever they went on the trip. Seeing the places in Germany first-hand could confirm what Carson thought they would be like was right or wrong.

“I wanted the experience,” said Carson, who had never before traveled on an airplane let alone out of the country. “You don't have to rely on what you know from the Internet. It was well worth it.”

The first week of the trip was spent in the classroom learning from German instructors at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management, said student Tyler Braniff of Springfield. Beisheim is a leading German business school and is ranked among the top business schools in Europe.

“It was a great experience,” Braniff said. “We had work to do. It brought everything together from an international standpoint.”

The 20 students could learn from seeing how businesses operate in Germany, Braniff said. They could see the importance of taking a step back and considering all available options in various business situations, he said.

The European perspective is different from what the students are used to, said Mark Munoz, one of the Millikin professors leading the trip. Small towns are made up of successful mid-sized businesses in a way similar to what Munoz said is and could be happening in Decatur.

“Their operations are steadily growing with a healthy bottom line,” Munoz said. “That was a really important take away.”

It was interesting to see how the towns have dealt with changing economic times, Munoz said.

Following the academic portion in Germany, Munoz said the group traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic for more of a cultural comparison. Students are increasingly working for companies that are global in nature, so Munoz said various destinations for the trips are being considered to enhance their understanding of the marketplace worldwide.

“We want to elevate the careers of the students,” Munoz said.

The 11-day trip came at the end of the students' 18-month MBA program.


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