From CoMo to Kuala Lumpur

Mizzou students master global markets.

group photo in asia
Mizzou students studied abroad in Southeast Asia in May 2023.

Published on Show Me Mizzou Jan. 10, 2024

It took nine Mizzou students 16 weeks to get to Southeast Asia this past May. While the travel itself took about 30 hours, those in Marketing 4800 spent the semester preparing for their spring trip to Malaysia and Singapore. These students were hand selected by Assistant Professor Brady Hodges for his inaugural Entering Global Markets class at the Trulaske College of Business. 

Jack Kish, a senior studying management and economics, says he took the course “to gain real-world experience. It wasn’t just theory and case studies. I want to go into management consulting, and this gave me the opportunity to consult for real-life companies looking to enter the global market.”

In the months leading up to their trip, students conducted market research and created marketing plans for two Missouri companies, one that eliminates pathogens in the air and the other a producer of protein powders. “When expanding to an international market, companies must think about what changes may need to be made to pricing, branding, marketing channels and more,” Hodges says. “The companies we partnered with are smaller and could benefit from our research and recommendations for global expansion.” 

Armed with their research findings and marketing plans, the class traveled to Asia for two weeks after the semester’s end and presented to the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. After receiving positive feedback and additional ideas on market entry strategy, participants headed to a TV studio and virtually presented their findings to the Missouri businesses. 

student presentation
Students in the Entering Global Markets class present their research and marketing plans to commercial specialists at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore.
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Entering Global Markets students in Singapore

“The students did an amazing job and gained a new confidence to go forward in their careers,” Hodges says, calling it “a win-win for everyone. We gained some wonderful experience, and the businesses benefited from our expertise and support.”

Global marketing experience wasn’t the only takeaway. “The cultural perspective the course gave me is unbeatable,” says Catherine Hinkebein, a junior studying finance. “There are many lessons and skills that you can’t get in the classroom that are transferable to the real world through study abroad.” 

Shannon Breske, director of the Trulaske study abroad program, agrees. “Educating our students through this global lens will help them be more successful,” she says. “Studying abroad is such a rich, immersive experience, and many students say it was life changing and shifted their mindset.”

group photo
Mizzou students learning local culture in Malaysia

Getting the Course Off the Ground

When Hodges arrived at Mizzou four years ago, he dreamed of a course where students could get hands-on experience working in international business, so he helped create a global business certificate. “It included this capstone class,” Hodges says, “where students would consult for real businesses looking to enter foreign markets and would prepare marketing plans to help them do that.”

He contacted the study abroad program to further his mission. “Faculty are the experts on creating the program content, but we support them by handling recruitment, travel logistics, safety and cultural expectations in other countries,” Breske says, adding that the aim is “to create programs to expand the global competencies of our students.” 

To secure funding for student travel scholarships, Breske worked with Jackie Rasmussen, director of the MU International Trade Center, on an application for a U.S. Department of Education Business and International Education grant. The team’s hard work paid off when they were awarded nearly $200,000 over two years.

With the funds in place, Hodges selected the course’s business partners. The MU International Trade Center, which conducts personalized market research for Missouri companies interested in growing their business internationally, had a network of companies seeking global marketing support. Hodges selected Far UV Technologies, a producer of UV light products that eliminate pathogens in the air, and SI03, a company that makes high-quality protein powders and dietary supplements.

It was finally time to launch the course in spring 2023. After students applied, 16 were interviewed and nine were ultimately chosen. Hodges purposefully kept the class size small because he “wanted it to be really hands on.”

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Students can study abroad in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Peru and complete internships at companies in London, Dublin, Sydney and Prague.

Preparing Students for Departure

It’s crucial for students to prepare for a global experience not only through academics but also through cultural education. “Students need to know what to expect culturally when they travel so they can be respectful global citizens,” Breske says.

To this end, each student researched and presented to the class on a cultural topic such as traditional food, appropriate clothing in a Muslim country, nightlife and transportation. 

student making street food
Jack Kish, a senior studying management and economics, was part of the inaugural Entering Global Markets class.

Hinkebein enjoyed the cultural education she received so much that she applied to be a student manager for the spring 2024 class so she could help prepare the next cohort of students. “It’s going to be such a cool leadership experience,” she says.

Experiencing Other Global Opportunities

The Trulaske College of Business is committed to expanding students’ global knowledge, and Marketing 4800 isn’t the only international opportunity available. Students can study abroad in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Peru and complete internships at companies in London, Dublin, Sydney and Prague.  

For students wanting a global experience without the travel, the MU International Trade Center hires 16 interns each semester to support global market research projects for Missouri companies. “It’s a great way to demonstrate the value of resources and expertise that is available through Mizzou and also contribute to the economic development activities in the state,” Rasmussen says. 

Becoming Good Global Citizens

Business no longer knows geographic boundaries, and it’s critical for students to understand this global nature. Kish says that as Americans, we often focus on our own interests at the expense of understanding how the rest of the world does business. “Studying abroad showed me how much we can learn by observing how other countries conduct business and maybe find ways to improve our own business practices.”

The international knowledge and understanding students can obtain at Trulaske will help set them up for success as they enter the job market, Rasmussen says. “Having this insight of the interconnectedness of business today is a core skill that new graduates can bring into their future workplace. It provides them with real-world exposure and makes them more employable.”

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