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International Exchange: MBA Students from Wyoming Visit Pforzheim University

University of Wyoming and Pforzheim University MBA students spent a week (October 20 – 27, 2013) touring Germany-based companies as part of a collaborative ‘international experience’ sponsored by the two schools.  The third annual exchange focused on ‘Leadership in Family Based Businesses.’ Students had the opportuni

MBA Students at Pforzheim University

ty to hear from and network with company executives from Polyrack Tech Group, Würth Group, Kärcher, and Tengelmann Group.

The international experience is an integral part of the MBA curriculum and part of the second year MBA student’s Capstone Strategy course, taught by Dr. Krista Lewellyn. Prior to departure, students researched each company they would visit, doing an analysis of their business model and key success factors for the company as well as an assessment of opportunities and threats in their macro- and competitive environments. Dr. Lewellyn commented that as a result, “the students were able to ask excellent questions and seemed to be much more like visiting professional consultants than students.”

The focus of the international exchange was fourfold:

  1. To provide MBA students with an understanding of the challenges, limitations and benefits of family based businesses;
  2. To contrast family based businesses with public companies in areas such as social, ecological and economic sustainability and responsibility;
  3. To know success factors for family based businesses in Germany; and,
  4. To be exposed to a variety of family based businesses. 

 

Dr. Robert Godby has accompanied the MBA students on every trip to Pforzheim.  He noted that the experience “serve(s) to enrich the learning experience students get at UW,” because students earn a new appreciation of international business and, for many students, it is their first time out of the United States. Dr. Godby also commented that UW MBA students “never fail to leave a great impression, and each year the trip always seems to impact the students more than they could have possibly imagined it would.”

Students also had the opportunity to participate in an MBA class with their Pforzheim MBA cohorts. Prof. Dr. Hanno Beck engaged the students on the topic Microeconomics, offering insightful contrasts between the United States and Germany in consumer, employee and company behavior.

Additional trip highlights included tours of the Porsche Museum, Maulbronn Monastery and sight-seeing in Köln.

Overview of Companies Visited:

Polyrack Tech Group was founded in 1979 by Horst Rapp. It specializes in mechanics, systems technology/electronics, plastics technology, and surface treatment. The company has evolved from a pure manufacturing service provider to a turnkey supplier, whose service portfolio ranges from engineering and design to the final product. Students heard from Horst and Andreas Rapp about the benefits of a family based company in a dynamic technology market and successfully managing multiple generation leadership.

Würth Group is a worldwide wholesaler of fasteners, screws and screw accessories, dowels, chemicals, furniture and construction fittings, tools, machines, installation material, automotive hardware, inventory management, storage and retrieval systems. Würth was founded in 1945 by Adolf Würth and is currently operated by his son, Prof. Dr. h.c. Reinhold Würth. In a presentation by Robert Friedmann, Chairman of the Central Managing Board, MBA students learned about the transition from a family management team to a professional management team.

Kärcher manufactures cleaning equipment for distribution in more than 60 countries across the globe. The company was founded by Alfred Kärcher in 1935. Hartmut Jenner, CEO, spoke about success factors for globalizing a family business in a high-tech environment.

Tengelmann Group is an international multi-sector retailer operating in 18 countries. This family-owned business was established in 1867 in Mülheim an der Ruhr and is now in its fifth generation of management. Karl-Erivan Haub, CEO and Managing Partner, addressed MBA students on the topics of sustaining family ownership for more than a century and retaining values and responsibility in a highly competitive environment.

To learn more about the University of Wyoming/Pforzheim University International Experience contact the MBA Program Office at mba@uwyo.edu. 

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