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UW MBA Students Visit Germany-Based Companies

January 8, 2014
Group of people posing for photo
University of Wyoming MBA students and advisers recently visited the Wurth Group, a company based Kunzelsau, Germany, as part of a class project late last semester. On the tour were back row, from left, John Mittelstaedt, UW College of Business interim dean; Steve Farkas, UW MBA director; Matt Christensen, from Cheyenne; Christina Irion, Windsor, Colo.; Sean Valentine, Rock Springs; Steffan Larson, Green River; Josh Kingston, Ashland, Neb.; Austin Mivshek, Rock Springs; and Krista Lewellyn, UW Department of Management and Marketing associate professor. Front row, Nicholas Considine, State College, Pa.; Sarah Rasmussen, Vermillion, S.D.; Greg Simons, San Antonio, Texas; Allegra Ramey, Newcastle; and Valentin Schwartz, Geneva, Switzerland. (UW Photo)

Eleven University of Wyoming second-year students in the College of Business MBA Program recently received global business experience visiting family-owned companies based in Germany.

The students and UW College of Business faculty members spent a week late last semester visiting the four companies along with MBA student counterparts from Pforzheim University, located in Pforzheim, a town of nearly 120,000 people in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany at the gate to the Black Forest.

The trip was part of a “collaborative international experience” sponsored by the two schools, says Steve Farkas, UW College of Business MBA director. The third annual exchange program focused on “leadership in family-based businesses.” Students had the opportunity to hear from, and network with, company executives from Polyrack Tech Group, Wurth Group, Karcher and Tengelmann Group.

Farkas says the international experience is an integral part of the MBA curriculum and part of the second-year MBA students’ capstone strategy course taught by Krista Lewellyn, UW Department of Management and Marketing associate professor.

UW MBA students participating in the exchange tour were Matt Christensen from Cheyenne; Nicholas Considine, State College, Pa.; Christina Irion, Windsor, Colo.; Joshua Kingston, Ashland, Neb.; Steffan Larson, Green River; and Austin Mivshek and Sean Valentine, both from Rock Springs.

Also on the trip were Allegra Ramey, Newcastle; Sarah Rasmussen, Vermillion, S.D.; Gregory Simons, San Antonio, Texas; and Valentin Schwartz, Geneva, Switzerland.

Farkas, Lewellyn, Rob Godby, UW Department of Economics and Finance associate professor, and John Mittelstaedt, UW College of Business interim dean and Department of Management and Marketing professor, were faculty advisers on the exchange program.

“Prior to departure, our 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,” Lewellyn says. “And, as a result, the students were able to ask excellent questions and seemed to be much more like visiting professional consultants than students.”

She says the program’s focus was to provide the UW students with an understanding of the challenges, limitations and benefits of family-based businesses; to contrast family-based businesses with public companies in areas such as social, ecological and economic sustainability and responsibility; to know success factors for family-based businesses in Germany; and to be exposed to a variety of family-based businesses.

The UW contingent visited businesses with a variety of specializations.

Polyrack Tech Group specializes in mechanics, systems technology/electronics, plastics technology and surface treatment. Wurth 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. Karcher manufactures cleaning equipment distributed in more than 60 countries. Tengelmann Group is an international multi-sector retailer operating in 18 countries.

Godby, who has accompanied the UW MBA students on each of the exchange trips, says that the experience “serves to enrich the learning experience students receive at UW,” because students gain a new appreciation of international business and, for many students, it is their first time out of the United States.

“Our 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,” he says.

Students also had the opportunity to participate in an MBA class with their Pforzheim MBA cohorts. Professor Hanno Beck discussed with the students microeconomics, offering insightful contrasts between the United States and Germany in consumer, employee and company behaviors.

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

For more information, contact the UW MBA Program office at

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