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Graduate Business Students Work with Tractor Supply Company, Travel to China

University launches International Business MBA concentration

The Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business, in partnership with Belmont’s Center for International Business, has added an International Business Concentration, allowing students to travel and work alongside a local organization that operates internationally.

Created out of the need for MBA graduates to have experience working in international markets, Director of the Center for International Business and Massey Professor Jeff Overby said, “A truly global mindset is necessary, and to compete in the global economy, we must appreciate and understand the complexities and the benefits created by globalization. I hear this theme from Nashville executives daily, and it is only going to become more significant as Nashville continues to attract more multinational corporate headquarters and incubate more entrepreneurial ventures. We want our new concentration to enable students to gain real hands-on experience in global business.”

Though the concentration will include aspects of international business throughout all courses, the program’s newly created practicum experience allows students to serve in a consulting role for an international organization, travel abroad with the organization’s team and complete the 5-week course with a presentation of suggested solutions.

Tractor Supply Company (TSC) was the pilot organization for the program, working with a group of three students throughout the year and ending the spring semester with a trip to China. While there, students attended TSC’s Asian Vendor Summit, visited factories and testing labs, accompanied executives on meetings, toured the Port of Shanghai and participated in a factory human rights audit. Following the trip, the students were asked to develop recommendations for issues they had been working with throughout the year.

Vice President of Product Development and Strategic Sourcing Ken Strait said the opportunity to work with the graduate students was mutually beneficial. “Tractor Supply Company has a longstanding relationship with Belmont, and we’ve seen great success working with their graduate students. We are excited to be involved in the new hands-on study abroad program and supporting the MBA international business students’ professional growth, while learning about ourselves along the way.”

Student and trip participant Horace Grant said his time in China ignited an interest in international business and deepened his understanding of working and living abroad. “My experience in China has ignited my aspirations to work internationally after graduation. The experience gave me a broader perspective of international business as I was able to learn many things from the Chinese culture. The most significant takeaway, among others, was that the Chinese population moves with a purpose – whether to school, work or elsewhere – reminding me of the importance of finding purpose in all areas of life.”

While the trip was formative for both TSC and the students, Overby said his time in China has impacted him far more that he expected. “In many ways, I was able to be a student again. I may have been working and teaching in various international business functions for over 20 years, but I’ve learned as much as the students,” Overby said. “In fact, I was already incorporating some of these key learnings into my undergraduate classroom a week after my return. This experience will continue to influence my teaching and even my consulting work for years to come.”

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