Category Archives: Josh’s Entries

What is your BHG? Inspiration from Patrik Nilsson, President of adidas North America

Patrik Nilsson

Patrik Nilsson, President of adidas North America

Last Friday I attended an interview with Patrik Nilsson, President of adidas North America, in one of a continuing series of “Power Breakfasts” organized by the Portland Business Journal. I had heard of these events before, but had never actually been to one, and therefore was not sure exactly what to expect. I was interested in learning more about adidas though, and so decided to go check it out. In the end, what I got out of the event was a thought provoking idea or two, both things that I could apply to how I look at companies, and also how I view my own potential as a job candidate (more on that in a bit).

The event was held in the fancy Governor Hotel in downtown Portland, and was very well attended. I had been told that these events are often good networking opportunities, but what surprised me somewhat was that most of the other attendees seemed to be from companies not related in any way to the footwear industry. I spoke with a local banker who said that he simply liked the adidas brand and their products, and that is why he was there. Mostly, I seemed to meet folks who came for the breakfast, and to hear an interesting conversation.

….And an interesting conversation it was. Once the early morning mingling died down and everyone had taken their seats, Craig Wessel, Publisher at the Portland Business Journal invited Patrik Nilsson to the stage, and proceeded with a lively and informative interview. Patrik Nilsson’s personal background itself was fascinating enough (originally from Sweden, played hockey and dreamed of making it into the NHL when he was younger, never graduated from university, but has now been President of adidas North America since 2007). What really interested me though was what Nilsson had to say about a company’s brand and identity.

Quoting the Harvard Business Review, he said there are 4 things that successful companies tend to have in common:

1: They have a vision.

2: They have a clear values system.

3: Have a BHG (a Big Hairy Goal).

4: Finding a position in the marketplace that they can defend over time.

To explain a little more, having a vision is important because it gives the company a direction, and a framework for what the company would like to accomplish. A clear values system is important because it communicates internally to employees and externally to customers what the company stands for, and helps to define the company’s culture. More specifically, Nisson said, people like to work for companies that they feel have integrity, this can be one of the best ways to instill trust and loyalty among employees. A Big Hairy Goal (also known by some as a Big Hairy Audacious Goal), is something that gives the company a target to strive for, and hopefully fits with the overall company vision. The words hairy and audacious point to the fact that this goal should not be something that is simple and straightforward, but something that will take time, effort, and creativity to accomplish, with payoffs to the company along the way. The fourth point, finding a position that you can defend over time, is about differentiating yourself and doing something that no other company can do as well as you.

Youth Soccer Support

The Portland Timbers and adidas support local youth soccer programs

How might adidas fit into each of these points? Nilsson himself did not directly answer point by point, but he did reference values of the company, such as efforts toward more sustainable business practices, as well as support community outreach such as youth soccer programs. For a vision and BHG, he mentioned the goal of becoming the world’s leading sports apparel company (which in Portland certainly qualifies as an audacious goal, given a certain industry-leading competitor located just across the river).

While these four points may be easily related to companies, reflecting on them made me think that they can just as easily be applied to individuals. Maybe it’s just that I’m in full job search mode right now, so I can’t help but think along the lines of stating my goals, and how these four points can serve as a nice framework for a job candidate in articulating the direction that they would like to move.

Using myself as an example:

I have a vision of global corporations as drivers of more equitable business practices, and that make decisions with all stakeholders and externalities taken into consideration.

My values are that I believe businesses can and should be more than organizations that seek only thin financial profits, and I want to work for a company that sees the value in its natural, human, and financial capital.

My BHG: To help bring about industry-wide changes for footwear and apparel companies, to make it the first industry that has zero (yes, you heard me), zero impact on the environment, while working to increase profits of the companies themselves.

Position I can defend over time (what is something that I can do better than anyone else?): I have been following a personal interest in materials and manufacturing for footwear and apparel, I have work experience and language proficiency in two countries, Japan and China, that have and will continue to be major players in the design and manufacture of footwear and apparel. I want to use these experiences and knowledge to work toward my goal and my vision.

That’s my simple attempt at articulating the direction that I would like to take my career, and what I have to offer. Whether it’s for an individual, or an organization, establishing a framework and a direction can give a much needed sense of purpose to what you do.

So these were thoughts that I was left with as I walked away from the Power Breakfast the other day. Would I recommend these events to other MIM students as networking opportunities? Not necessarily, but you never know who you might meet at business events around town. If however, you are looking for thought provoking talks with dynamic and influential leaders, the Portland Business Journal does a good job of inviting fascinating individuals in the local business community, and Patrik Nilsson is a great example of this. Definitely check out their list of upcoming talks, and find one that interests you.

In the meantime, try thinking about how you would answer the four points above. What are your career goals? What direction would you like to point yourself in? Which companies do you feel best fit your own values? And what is your BHG?

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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Age of the Pacific Lecture: Andy Anderson of Cascade Corporation

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Andy Anderson of Cascade Corporation in a recent Age of the Pacific lecture

Andy Anderson has worked in Asia for more than 2 decades, and this past Monday night was able to share some of his experiences and insights with MIM students as part of the ongoing Age of the Pacific lecture series. Mr. Anderson, himself a graduate of PSU, has held a variety of positions at Cascade Corporation, a Portland-based company that  manufactures forklift attachments. He admits that he had no training for dealing with cross-cultural business situations when he first began working with Asian companies in the 1980s, and most of his talk on Monday was centered around lessons that he had learned the hard way from interacting with business partners in Japan, China, and Korea.

Some of the lessons had to do with learning to understand differences in communication styles across cultures. In several stories that Mr. Anderson shared, he talked about certain business deals that he tried to negotiate with his counterparts overseas. These were deals that he had thought were on track and that he had high hopes for, but in the end, the deal never worked out. Even in situations where a contract had been signed, he waited for the orders to start coming in, but nothing ever happened. It wasn’t until much later sometimes that he realized that his counterparts had not felt the same enthusiasm for the deal or had disagreed on certain points, but had just not been willing to express those feelings directly. In hindsight, there were likely signals that the business partners may have been sending to indicate their lack of interest in these deals, but the signals were so subtle that it was not easy to pick up on them until later, Anderson said.  To this point, he emphasized the importance of understanding that there are differences in cultural communication styles, and that although it may not be possible to accurately interpret the indirect messages of every culture you come in contact with, at least having an awareness that there are cultural differences that need to be considered is a good step toward preparing for these culturally asynchronous situations.

Another theme that Anderson touched on was that of creating trusting relationships with international business partners. More than one case that Anderson shared dealt with mergers or acquisitions between his company and another company overseas. With these mergers and acquisitions came the inevitable change in management and organizational structure, and many employees who felt nervous about whether they would keep their job. In these cases Anderson said it was particularly important to understand that the local employees in other countries simply wanted to know that they could trust their new American managers, and from Anderson’s position, if he could earn their trust, operations would run much more smoothly for all involved.

Mr. Anderson ended his talk with an interesting revelation, that his degree from PSU was not in anything related to business, but was in fact in history, an encouraging fact for those of us hoping to launch a successful business career after transitioning from a liberal arts background.

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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MIM Alumni Profile: Patrick Dedrick MIM 2010

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Patrick outside adidas North America headquarters

Students come to the MIM program for many reasons. For Patrick Dedrick, a MIM graduate from 2010 who now works in supply chain at adidas, building a career as a supply chain analyst and working for one of the largest companies in the footwear industry were two things that were actually not on his radar.

Patrick came from much more of a cultural and liberal arts background. He majored in Anthropology and Japanese as an undergrad, studying abroad in Japan at Kansai Gaidai University for a time as well. For him, the hybrid nature of business curriculum combined with Asian culture and language was what interested him about the MIM degree.

Yet during the 15-month MIM program, somewhere between coursework at PSU and factory tours on the Asia Trip, Patrick found that he had an affinity for the analytical aspects of supply chain work. Since completing his MIM degree, Patrick has held a variety of supply chain positions in several companies, first at Oracle as a supply chain analyst, then at TE Connectivity in their medical division, before finding himself in his current role at adidas.

When asked about his series of relatively quick transitions from job to job over the past 3 years, he acknowledges that this can sometimes make it seem like he has trouble staying in one place very long. He clarifies though that in each of the transitions he has made, it was due to opportunities at one place coming to an end, at around the same time that opportunities elsewhere opened up. Furthermore, Patrick emphasizes that it was through personal connections that he learned about opportunities, and that although these personal connections proved very helpful eventually, they were not connections that he made explicitly to gain some tangible benefit; they were people that he met and stayed in touch with, and when the opportunity arose, they contacted Patrick to let him know.

Patrick (left) and other MIM students at the Great Wall

For students who are making a career transition, or moving from one job to another, Patrick suggests building a story and  making sure the transition is a conscious decision (or at least seems like one). Having focused on supply chain and purchasing work for most of his professional career, Patrick is able to demonstrate familiarity with a variety of processes and aspects of supply chain work, in ways that he says often stay relatively the same from industry to industry.

For advice on getting a job out of the MIM program, he recommends balancing the need for being open to a variety of opportunities with having a specific company or industry in mind. In other words, it is great to be focused on trying to get specific positions, but try to be open to other opportunities that may not seem obvious at first. “I have seen some missed opportunities for people who were too selective in their job search” he says. Have a plan, but be flexible.

One other recommendation of Patrick’s is to consider looking into supply chain certifications such as CPIM and CSCP, administered by APICS. Having these certifications has helped open doors for Patrick and gotten him interviews.

Patrick and other MIM students in Shanghai

As for himself, Patrick is very happy where he is right now at adidas. “I wanted to continue with supply chain and operations of course, but I was also looking for a corporate culture where I would feel at home”, he says. “Landing a good position in a well-known company can certainly help your career, but finding a company where you are a good fit regardless of other factors may help you enjoy your work more, and also get more out of the job itself”.

With many MIM students set to graduate in December and currently on the lookout for jobs, these are both timely and wise words!

 

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the Master of International Management program!

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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Welcome to the new MIM cohort and the beginning of a new term!

Accounting Class Starbucks Prank

The infamous “Starbucks Prank” in Global Accounting class last year. Will the new MIM cohort beat us in goofiness?

The Fall term at PSU is officially underway now, which means that a new MIM cohort has started the program! Classes in the Fall term include Global Marketing, Global Financial Accounting, Pacific Rim Economies, Global Strategy, and Chinese or Japanese language courses.

Halfway through the first week, new MIM student Terry Donahue said that the program already felt like it was moving very quickly. Terry is studying Japanese in the program, and although he felt a little daunted by the fact that some classmates had had previous experience studying Japanese or living in Japan, he was excited to begin learning the language. He also recognized though that the packed schedule of the MIM program really forces students to develop good time management skills.

Time management and good organizational skills are things that many current MIM students also recommended for incoming students. In a poll of what their biggest advice was for incoming students, almost half of all respondents said that managing time well is the most important thing in the MIM program. Others said that networking in the community is important, which is true especially for those who are trying to find jobs in and around Portland after they graduate.

Other pieces of advice were to participate in the SBA Mentor Program, an opportunity that matches PSU graduate business students with professionals in the local business community, who act as mentors for their students throughout the academic year.

Jason Carnahan, a MIM alumnus from years past, suggested finding classmates with similar goals, who could act as study partners and help motivate you throughout the program.

Whether you are a new or a continuing MIM student, good luck with the new term!

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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Portland as a Footwear Hub

Running-FeetWe wrote recently on this blog about the Athletic and Outdoor Young Professionals of Portland, a local networking group for people working in the the athletic footwear and apparel industry in Portland. Besides introducing that specific networking group, the message was that Portland offers many opportunities to get involved with a very close-knit community of footwear and apparel companies in the area. While there are plenty of well known companies here like Nike, adidas, and Columbia Sportswear, to name but three, we thought it would be good to highlight some of the smaller but equally innovative companies that are active in and around Portland.

Two of those companies, RYZ and Source Material, offer interesting glimpses into other facets of the local industry. RYZ is a footwear brand that caters to those who want the comfort of a running shoe but that is stylish enough that it could be worn to the office or other dressier occasions. Source Material is a company that represents Asian-based footwear materials manufacturers in the US, and works with footwear brands to meet their demands for style and quality.

Both companies agreed to provide some background information on their place in the industry and Portland’s importance as a geographic center of the footwear industry, as well as some insights for students on how to get started in the industry yourself. Be sure to check out their websites and Facebook pages for more information!

RYZ

RYZ logoRYZ has viewed Portland as the only logical base for our business from the beginning. In addition to being home to some of the true giants in the industry, the Portland fashion market is considerably more forward-thinking than many other cities in the U.S. What really makes Portland the ideal place for RYZ is that we are a company by runners, for runners. Portland, as well as the rest of Oregon, is one of the running meccas of this country. A recent poll by Men’s Fitness ranks Portland as the fittest city in America. Runner’s World magazine found that in 2012 Portland had the 9th most marathon finishers per capita. What this tells us is that Portland is the place to be for making direct contact with runners and getting them behind our product.

While the industry may seem huge on the surface, in reality it is a relatively small world where most players know each other, at least byRYZ P2P 06 name if not in person. Particularly in as interesting and vibrant an environment as Portland, there are other local companies doing lots of interesting things that serve as both inspiration and points of collaboration for RYZ. Grassroots marketing is something that we are always looking to partner up with local brands on. Keeping abreast of the best practices and changes in the sourcing sector is something else that we collaborate with other local companies on. If we find a truly great supplier that has capacity to spare then we are happy to do what we can to introduce them to other local businesses. As the industry as a whole grows, so can we.

What we really look to do is partner with local retailers who sponsor their own races and running events. At these events we love to have other footwear and apparel brands present because we are confident in the uniqueness of our product and feel that more companies brings more attention. Our goal at RYZ is to have every runner in Portland aware of us and to have had at least one instance of direct contact with RYZ. We aim to be intimately associated with the running community in Portland and believe that this commitment to knowing our core customer is one of our key competitive advantages.

RYZ Pacesetters

RYZ pacesetters at the recent Pints to Pasta race in Portland.

Source Material

Source Material is based in Portland but represents footwear materials companies in Taiwan and China. Their products include genuine and synthetic leather, as well as textiles. The company occupies an interesting space in the industry, working as a sort of intermediary to provide materials options to footwear brands, while also communicating needs and requirements to the materials producers in Asia.

Portland is a hub for footwear and apparel.  Other locations regarded as hubs for apparel and footwear would be Boston, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles/San Francisco.  In my opinion, Portland’s attitude makes it the most unique.  The mindset of someone living in Portland embodies an attitude of willingness to try new things, and to look for the positives when faced with difficult business scenarios and technical needs in products.  The bottom line however is that some of the best human resources are located in Portland.  With unemployment so high for several years, the competition was stiff to get jobs in the industry and this has only furthered the talent located in Portland.IMG_2812
The concentration of footwear materials suppliers certainly helps to keep them on their toes to innovate, but a larger challenge is communicating the technical side of the innovations across cultures.  Because so many of the suppliers are Asian, the ability to innovate is only stifled by the need for more cultural bridges to be created.  Historically, Japan and Korea led the charge with manufacturing (particularly in footwear), but once China’s doors opened, they were forced to invest in factories in Dongguan or Jinjiang.  Both of these cities have led the march for China footwear, but like any manufacturing the suppliers had to follow.  This trend has continued in Vietnam and Indonesia as China’s labor prices increase.  Developing new materials is a matter of getting brands the right materials (thousands of options), at the right time (2 season annual calendar-different for every brand), for the right price (commodity prices change, natural disasters, competition, etc.).  This is easier said than done when so many factors are changing so quickly.
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Source Material strives to build cultural bridges, add value to the developers and designers we assist, and contribute meaningful dialogue with everyone we interact with in the industry.  
For students interested in getting into this industry, I would encourage you to meet as many people as you can, never stop learning, and provide solutions or ideas for solutions whenever possible.  There are many things all around us that could be done better and if you can find the ways to express how you would do that, people will listen and you will build a tribe of people that will believe in you.  The international business solutions can be the hardest to see, but can be the most rewarding.
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Once again, if you are a student looking to get into the footwear and apparel industry, Portland and PSU offer opportunities that are hard to beat. Looking for opportunities at big, established companies can be great, but there are also plenty of smaller companies that are doing some exciting things and have plenty of opportunities for growth, and RYZ and Source Material are both great examples!

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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MIM Students Network at the Northwest China Council

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MIM students enjoying the lunch and presentation provided by the NW China Council

It’s still summer vacation right now  in the MIM program. Many students are on the road traveling, some are busy with internships, and others are catching up on lost sleep from the previous months of the program.

For several MIM students who attended the Northwest China Council’s China Business Network event yesterday though, this time off from class is an opportunity to get out and network in the business community. The Northwest China Council is a non-profit organization in Portland that promotes understanding and connections between China and the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the cultural activities that the group organizes, there are also a number of business events that are held throughout the year, that serve as both as networking platforms for those interested in growing their business connections, and also provide educational information on issues relevant to doing business in China.

Yesterday’s event dealt specifically with the internationalization of China’s currency, the RMB. This included a presentation by Joseph Soroka of Key Bank, who gave an overview of China’s recent currency and foreign trade policy, followed by a Q&A session . The discussion was of course decidedly finance-heavy, and in many aspects covered material that MIM students learn in their International Finance class in the second term of the program. That being said, the presentation was a much-needed review of some key finance concepts, and also went into more detail on certain aspects of China’s currency policy, such as the fact that China has one currency used for onshore trading (i.e. trading within China), referred to as CNY, and another currency used for offshore trading, referred to as CNH (see here for a fuller explanation).

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Networking after the presentation

With any networking event, I often say it is good to go there with at least a general goal in mind of what you want to accomplish there. Do you want to meet new people and build connections that could potentially lead to jobs later on? Do you want to learn about a specific topic that is covered at the event? Or do you simply want to practice your networking skills, like how to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never spoken with before, or practice your elevator pitch? All are great goals to have when going to networking events, but I will add that sometimes I feel it is good enough to just get out there (“there” being the business community) and see who else is in attendance at these events, and see what opportunities are available. Portland has a relatively small and close-knit business community, and what I’ve discovered from going to a variety of networking events is that often the same people are going to the same kind of events, month after month. Sound repetitive? Maybe. But what’s great about this is that the more events you go to, the more you will recognize and become familiar with people in the business community, and the more they will become familiar with you. And the more familiar people are with you, the more they will begin to think of you when opportunities (i.e. jobs) become available.

So what’s the lesson here? Should a student participate in every networking event that comes their way? Should you always expect to get some tangible outcome from networking, like a handful of business cards and people you can connect with on LinkedIn? The answer to each of these points is of course no, not necessarily. The MIM program keeps students very busy, and it is not possible to go to every networking opportunity, but getting out to at least one event a month is both manageable and makes sure that you are actively getting involved and meeting new people.

If you are interested in learning more about China and building contacts with people doing business there, the Northwest China Council puts on some great events that are worth checking out. So whether you are in the MIM program, or interested in learning more about business opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region, I encourage you to get out and network as much as possible.

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for more information on the Master of International Management program.

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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Capstone Mid-Project Presentations and FAQ

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The author and his teammates presenting the initial findings of their capstone project research.

MIM students have been busy this week with presentations for their capstone projects. For most groups, this is the halfway point of their capstone project, and a good time to assess the progress made so far, and also think critically about what steps need to be taken to ensure successful completion of the project in November.

The mid-project presentations themselves are a chance for capstone teams to meet with their project advisor, capstone project advisor, and the director of the MIM program, and present their progress, challenges, and plans for the remainder of the project. Teams are given 15 minutes to present their findings, which often include the results of secondary and primary research they have conducted, as well as any initial recommendations that they may have for their clients. Advisors will then ask some general questions and provide feedback which may be of use to teams as they move forward.

Although we are only halfway through the projects so far, there are a few lessons and insights that my team and I have discovered through our experience in this process that could be helpful for future MIM students to know. Below is a quick FAQ list with some tips and advice on MIM capstone projects that may come in handy.

What are the MIM capstone projects?

Capstone projects (also called Exit Projects by some people) are real-world business projects that MIM students do for participating companies. These projects are intended to provide students a culminating experience over the last two terms of the MIM program, and a way to apply their knowledge and business skills to real projects that their sponsors (companies) provide. Projects typically focus on specific questions that the company is trying to answer, such as how they might enter an international market, find and qualify suppliers, or develop a plan for future growth and expansion.

What is the timeframe for MIM capstone projects?

Most projects begin around late June or early July and wrap up around the end of November, although exceptions are sometimes made if the project sponsor needs a different timeframe. Students are expected to work continuously for the duration of the project, which means that although MIM students have a break from classes during the second half of the summer, they should still be staying on schedule with their capstone projects.

Who is responsible for finding project sponsors?

In most cases the business school and the MIM program director will be in charge of finding companies to sponsor projects, but some savvy MIM students will sometimes propose projects for companies that they may have connections to in the local area. The best advice here is that if you have an idea for a project yourself, start early by talking to the company and proposing a project idea, and try to be as specific as possible. An even more basic tip would be to network with business people around Portland as much as you can during the early part of the MIM program, so that when it comes time to start thinking about capstone projects, you have some good connections within the business community that you can tap for this purpose.

How much time should students expect to dedicate to their capstone projects?

Students should expect to meet with their teams at least once a week for most of the 5 months that they are working on their projects, and should also be spending a few hours each week doing individual research. The MIM program says that teams typically put in a total of around 600-900 hours of work on the projects over the course of 5 months, but this will vary considerably depending on the specifics of each project, as well as the dedication of each team and individual. Regardless of how many hours a team actually spends on the project, the important thing is to work consistently every week, so that you are not rushed over the last month or two trying to finish everything at the last minute. The mid-project presentations that MIM students do in September are therefore useful in giving students a chance to assess how much they have done, and whether they are on track with their projects.

What are MIM students expected to deliver to their project sponsors by the end of the project?

Students must put together a written report of their findings and recommendations on the project, and give a presentation to their project sponsor detailing the results of their research. Students should approach the project as if it is really a professional report for their actual job. While you shouldn’t expect that doing a capstone project for a company will get you a job their after graduation, this has happened for students in the past, so put in your best effort on the project as if you were trying to impress a future employer. At the very least, the project sponsor may be able to give you a recommendation for other future jobs that you may be applying for elsewhere!

What are some tips for how students can work most effectively throughout their project?

As mentioned above, time management and working consistently are two big points here. Beyond that, communicating openly and respectfully with team members can also help with the collaborative aspect of the project. In most cases, MIM students are assigned teams, and are therefore not able to choose who they work with on their projects. You may be working with people who have very different communication and work styles than yourself, so the capstone experience can be just as valuable an experience for building teamwork and leadership skills as it is a chance to work on research and “hard” business skills.

We hope that these tips may be useful for future MIM students when they begin their own capstone projects. Congratulations to the current MIM students for completing their mid-project presentations, and good luck as you work to complete your projects in the coming weeks!

Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about the Master of International Management program.

Joshua Thorpe

mail.google.comJosh is a full-time student in the Master of International Management program.  After graduating from the University of Oregon with a degree in Japanese, he taught English in Tokyo for 3 years, before moving to China and teaching at a university in the city of Zhengzhou.  Inspired by his experiences in Japan and China, he was drawn to the MIM program because of its regional focus on Asia, as well as for Portland State University’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainable business. He is studying Chinese in the MIM program, but tries to keep up his Japanese whenever he can.

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