A mainstay of the Business School's curriculum, travel seminars give students the chance to get out of the classroom and explore the businesses and cultures of other places. From China to Brazil, Great Britain to Spain, students are able to immerse themselves in consulting projects, connect with company leaders, and obtain a greater perspective on global business.
Of course, the pandemic changed all that. For two years, several travel seminars went virtual; others were canceled completely. But in the spring of 2022 in-person travel seminars resumed, with students venturing out to a number of destinations:
Professors Kim Wang, Carlos Rufín, and Russell Seidle each took a cohort of graduate students to Madrid, where they consulted with several companies. Students got a perspective on grassroots efforts to develop tech talent in Spain. They visited Red Eléctrica de España, Spain’s national electric grid operator, to see how Spain is incorporated into the pan-Europe power grid. They also visited Protos winery and brainstormed how to promote Spanish wine.
"I had waited for this trip," says Jack Paleczny, BSBA '11, MBA '22, a senior manager at Wayfair who took the Travel Seminar as his very last class as a Suffolk graduate student. "It felt like a capstone class, in that you had to apply all the relevant core classes along with any electives."
Professors Rick Gregg and Brenda Bond-Fortier led students from several graduate programs on the London Healthcare Seminar. Along with visits to landmarks like the London Eye and the Tower of London, students met with professionals from the National Health Service, visited the Royal College of Physicians, and heard presentations at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Health Foundation. One goal was to help students understand what lessons the English healthcare system offers on how to improve the US system.
Fredna Pierre, MBA '22, an assistant billing manager at Massachusetts General Hospital who held off doing the Travel Seminar until she could do it in person, calls it one of the most meaningful experiences she had at Suffolk. Her biggest takeaway from the trip: Even with the National Health Service's goal of providing healthcare to everyone in the United Kingdom, inequities still exist for people of color.
New York City & Washington, DC
Accompanied by Professor Tracey Riley, undergraduate accounting students traveled to New York to visit Marsh McLennan, where Suffolk trustee and alumna Stacy Mills, BSBA '87, created a daylong program that included a consulting assignment. Students were asked to take on the role of a controller and present their opinions on a proposed business purchase. They also met with Marsh executives who shared their personal stories and offered career advice. They even visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and the iconic O'Hara's Restaurant & Pub.
In Washington, students had virtual meetings with members of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. They also met with the Greater Washington Society of CPAs (certified public accountants) and with employees at a Washington CPA firm, where they learned about diversity in the profession.
For many of the students, the program at Marsh McLennan was the first big in-person presentation they’d made since before COVID.
"To jump into Marsh McLennan to present to the global controller and all her colleagues, that was crazy,” says Cole Hamparian, BSBA '22. "We were honored to be there and put on our best performance. We definitely stepped up to the plate when it came to show what Suffolk has to offer."
Knowing that Boston is a hub for robotics, Professor Kim Wang organized the Business School's first-ever robotics travel seminar, which featured visits to cutting-edge companies in the Boston area, including Ras Labs, Inc., Vecna Robotics, and Southie Autonomy, as well as a trip to innovation hub MassRobotics. Students pitched ideas to executives on how the companies could scale up and enter new markets.
For Eunice Nzuka, MBA/MSBA '22, the seminar was an affirmation of her own desire to be an entrepreneur. "I went in thinking I’m going to see all these cool gadgets and learn how robotics is going to impact the future," Nzuka says. "But hearing stories about how these different companies started out was very encouraging and a bit of a lightbulb moment for me: I need get started on my own ideas."
Because of the country's pandemic lockdown, the China Travel Seminar pivoted to a virtual format, which allowed students to experience visits to innovative companies in the high-tech, biotech, logistics, and supply chain sectors. Students interacted with Chinese experts and company executives. They also learned more about Chinese culture through a livestreamed Tai Chi master lesson and a dumpling making workshop.
"Although the seminar was virtual, it exceeded all my expectations," says Ilma Golemi, BSBA '19, MBA Class of 2023. "I definitely feel more familiar with the culture and how things work in China. It was eye opening."