Tag Archives: group work

Group Work

By Jake Culian

As our spring term comes to a close I want to take a little while to discuss another topic which anyone who enters the MIM program will have to deal with on a regular basis, the dreaded group project.  During my time in the MIM program group projects have been the norm and for all the complications that arise because of them I have really appreciated that.  Working well as part of a team isn’t really something that comes naturally to a lot of people and to get better at it you must practice.

This quarter we had one class in particular which tested our abilities to perform good group work.  Our marketing class this term was composed of 25 people split into two groups each working on half of a 8 week long research project for the Office of International Student Services and Office of Admissions at PSU.  Our goal was to identify what they were doing well and what was going poorly and then offer advice on how to both highlight their achievements and what they needed help with.

In order to execute this project we started with in person interviews with international students, then secondary research at the school library on international enrollment trends at PSU and in the US, and finally sent out a survey to all the international students currently enrolled in PSU.  We ended up having over 300 respondents with approximately 196 usable responses.  All this research eventually culminated in an hour long presentation given to the two Offices as well as a 70 plus page study which will be distributed to various officials within PSU.

My point here is that it would have taken a year or so for a single person to gather all this information, but as a group we were able to accomplish everything in 8 weeks.  But it required communication, organization and a strong sense of direction on where the project was going and what was required next.  In order for groups to be truly successful everyone needs to know what they’re supposed to be doing.  Now some cultures will be given the overall goal and told to take off running and that works for them.  Others need extremely fine detail at every step along the way.  It is the group leader’s responsibility then to know what each member of their group needs in terms of guidance as well as making sure that everyone has the information they need to accomplish their tasks.

Group work can be immensely rewarding and create great big things, but don’t underestimate how much effort it will take just to get things rolling.  The bigger the group the bigger the inertia until things moving.  I really appreciate working with groups, but thinking about 70 page research papers and 12 person teams makes me a little nervous.  They shouldn’t be something to be feared, but at the same time taking the time to do them right is essential to quality work coming out at the end.


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What to Expect in MIM 509: Global Business Immersion

A few weeks ago Dec 2011 Master in International Management candidates finished their final class, MIM 509 Global Business Immersion. Immersion is an intense weekend of analyzing, strategizing, research, and competition. This is a weekend class where MIMers have the opportunity to “put it all together” – everything they have learned, experienced, and studied in their 15-27 months in the program (15 months for full time and 27 months for part time students).

2011 Global Immersion judges and winners, Team Bain, led by Emily Davis, part time MIM student.

What can current and future MIMers look forward to in Immersion weekend? Here is the basic breakdown of what students can expect. Continue reading

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Waltzing Through the Behavioral Job Interview

This article seemed worth sharing even though it is from a nursing journal. The information is still universal and relevant to those who are in the job search process at this time. I have included most of what I think will interest MIMers from the article and have made a few slight modifications in wording to make it more relevant to the general business environment versus the medical environment.

The following is from American Nurse Today, January 2011, Volume 6, Number 1, “Waltzing Through the Behavioral Job Interview”

What you need to know to ace this nontraditional interview style Continue reading

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Association of Executive Search Consultants on Generation Y and Human Resource Management in Brazil

One assignment students were required to do in the MIM 564 Global Human Resource Management class this past spring 2011 term, taught by Dr. Sully Taylor and Dr. Berrin Erdogan, was to choose any country that currently did not have an SAP Lab, thoroughly research the country’s Human Resource Management (HRM) policies and practices, and defend a conclusion as to whether SAP should expand with an R&D center in that particular country.

Although the PSU Master in International Management program specializes in Asia studies, MIM classes also incorporate a variety of countries and international assignments in the curriculum. Our MIM 564 team of four chose to research Brazil due to its rapid expansion, its relatively young history as a major manufacturing hub and more recently as a financial hub for Latin America. In addition, our team looked forward to learning a little more about Brazil’s economy and workforce as it relates to HRM with the excitement of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro. On another note, just a three cohorts ago, the MIM program was lucky enough to have a student from Brazil. Continue reading


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Going Above and Beyond MIM Love

The Master in International Management program does incoming students a wonderful service by offering a four-day team building retreat and camping trip in central Oregon. This amazing experience kicks off the start of what I will refer to as “MIM Love.” The team-building excursion facilitates friendships that will last through the 15-27 month program and will even extend beyond graduation. Considering that the MIM cohort is made up of roughly 50 percent international students from countries such as China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Laos, Iran, Jordan, etc., the MIM team building retreat is an excellent way to break through the ice and get classmates used to the kind of close interaction they will engage in for the duration they will be in school.

Once MIM Love has been established among your cohort, you will feel like you’re one big happy family while you’re in the honeymoon phase. This is a wonderful feeling! It is so fun meeting so many new people and having new friends to hang out with! Everyone is excited to learn new words in each other’s languages; laughs are shared over teaching each other the nuances of the different cultures… Everyone wants to put on his or her happy face during this time.

Now, go beyond the fun times and the excitement of getting to know your 40+ new friends and get to know the real person behind that smile. Go beyond basic chatting over good food and reach out to your classmate sitting across you at lunch or next to you in class.

Your international classmates who have moved over here to go to school for the next 15 months have their own individual stories. Some have never been to the U.S. before. This may be the first time they have left home for such a long duration and many who are new to the U.S. are going thorough major culture shock and they may not show it outwardly.

You will discover that your international classmates might have had a very different lifestyle in their home country. Expectations were different in their home country. Back home, the classroom experience was very different. They dressed and acted differently. They used to be outgoing and a “take charge” type of person but now they are not so sure of themselves because they are having to communicate every day in a language that is not their native tongue (and soon, in classes they will have to communicate in business terms in a language that is foreign to them – can you imagine doing this in a foreign language if English is your native tongue?). Maybe they had their own cars and were very independent and now they are in the U.S. and have to rely on public transportation. Most likely your international classmates will miss the food they used to eat at home and some may resort to cooking but may have a difficult time getting to Asian grocery stores that are far away from campus.

So those of you, who are Portland locals or have been living in the Portland Metro area for quite some time and know your way around, reach out to your classmates who are not from the U.S., as well as to those who just moved here from other states. I know that things get quite hectic while you are in school, but take the extra step and offer your classmate that ride home, round up a few of them for a group grocery shopping trip to an Asian grocery store, ask them how they are adjusting to life in the U.S. and see if there is something you can do to help make that adjustment easier. Maybe it is as simple as help take their family member to an appointment or provide advice on updating a resume. Beyond MIM Love, REALLY get to know your classmates. And remember, withhold judgment. You might be surprised when you learn more about the real person under the smiling face.

MIM Love is a Wonderful Thing...


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The MIM International Business Research Project (AKA “Exit Project”)

There is no official summer break for PSU Master in International Management students in their final summer before graduation. MIMers are extremely busy during summer term from end of June through early August with three-to-four classes over an eight-week period. In early June Business Research Projects and teams are assigned with the expectation that initial client contact will be made by end of July. Project work will continue through the month of October with the hope that final presentations will be done by October 31st, but the possibility that some teams may need to continue work through November.

Students are allowed to put in a few requests for their business project experience as far as the size of the company or organization and the area in which they are hoping to gain experience in (supply chain, marketing, finance, etc.). Students do not get to specifically choose the company, as this information is kept confidential until assignments are made, nor do they get to choose their teams. However, if a student happens to find his or her own business research project opportunity (which still must be approved by the Academic Director) he/she is allowed to choose his/her own team in this case.

The MIM International Business Project gives students the opportunity to work for a real world business client providing consultation and expertise based upon the team’s skill set and experience. A student team could consist of three to five students depending on the company’s size and client’s initial project proposal submission. In addition, some teams include MSFA and MBA students. Previous clients include Fortune 500 Corporations, medium and small-sized companies, and pubic and non-profit organizations. (To see a list of some previous clients click HERE).

What I have discovered is that all the business project teams do things slightly differently for their clients. For instance, when submitting project proposals for clients I found that one team emailed a written project proposal document to their contact for approval, another team held a meeting in which they reviewed their project proposal with the client via PowerPoint presentation, while our team met in person with our client had had a loose written outline of project proposal “suggestions.”

Although all teams have project advisors – faculty or experts in the field – teams are expected to go about their projects on their own initiative for the most part. Our team advisor expects that we will consult and conduct business with our client without consulting him prior. This is very cool! We’re on our own, consulting, and doing international business things! Isn’t this the best?! However, it is very unlike what we have been doing for the past 12 (full timers) -24 (part timers) months in grad school classes, so it takes a little getting used to (I will refrain from calling it “scary” at this time, because it’s really not scary, it’s just “different”).

Are we able to apply what we learned in grad school on our projects? Definitely. (Newbie MIM, I would highly recommend saving your notes, handouts, and any relevant textbooks to your area of specialization so you can refer back to them when you are working on your final business project.) My team’s client mainly wants improvements in her product’s marketing process through research and exploration of customer feedback. This melds what I have learned in two classes, Brian McCarthy’s Global Marketing class from the very first term in the MIM program and Dennis Power’s Global Entrepreneurship class (also a marketing class) that I just took this past summer.

Our team is providing our client with a complete marketing plan; similar to the final assignment we did in McCarthy’s Global Marketing class. In addition, we are also providing our client with a few things to add to her over all business plan such as an elevator pitch and product value proposition – both things covered in Powers’ Global Entrepreneurship class. In eight-week’s time our team will also create three market research surveys, figure out our client’s TAM (Total Available Market) for the target areas, gather feedback from a focus group, and provide quotes on future work on our client’s e-commerce site. We will present the final data to our client with a PowerPoint presentation and complete 70-page written document at the end of October.

Click on the link to read more about MIM International Business Research Projects. If you are a local business and would like to take advantage of graduate business student consulting services, please read the information provided on the link and email Dr. Cliff Allen, MIM Academic Director at cliffa@sba.pdx.edu.

Photo Credit: International Research Conference http://internationalresearchdortmund.wikispaces.com/2011gbp

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Spotlight on MIM Alumni: Patrick Dedrick

Name: Patrick Dedrick
Company: Oracle
Company/Job Location: Hillsboro, OR
Current Job Title: Supply Chain Analyst
Duration with Current Company/Current Position: Six months
MIM Graduation Date: December 2010

Patrick Dedrick, MIM 2010 Alumni and Supply Chain Analyst at Oracle in Hillsboro, Oregon

MIM: How did you find your job and what was the job search process like?

PD: A manager from a previous job was working at Oracle, and knew that I would be finishing MIM around the time that his group would be hiring, so, he gave me information on a few job postings, and suggested I apply. This process started in August [2010], and I was finally brought on at the end of December [2010]. However, I started my job search process in June [2010]. Right before starting at Oracle in December, I worked briefly at CEVA Logistics, in a position that I was referred to by a professor of one of the summer specialization courses. In all, it took five months of active job searching to find one that I got hired for, and six months to get the job [at Oracle] that I have now. It is my firm belief that the only reason that I got either of these jobs is because of the network that I had developed.

MIM: What was your interview process like?

PD: For Oracle, I had a three-part interview process: an initial in-person screen, a presentation, and a panel interview. The first screening was a less formal interview that was used to gauge my potential fit with the company against information and details from my resume. The presentation portion of the interview came a couple weeks later, in which I was asked to choose one topic from a list of six related to supply chain, and prepare a 10-15 minute presentation to give to a small group of employees. The final panel interview was comprised of a group of five potential peers and supervisors, which acted primarily as a behavioral test of personality-fit. By far, the most stressful, and most beneficial portion of the interview was the presentation – it translated the presentation skills emphasized in the [MIM] program to a real work-environment.

MIM: Is your current job in line with your previous work experience or is this a career change?

PD: I was very new to the “working world,” and had only about a year between undergrad and the MIM program. I spent some time in the wine industry, where I had some information exposure to supply chain, but I would consider my career to have started after MIM. Coming into the MIM program, I had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards – prior to actually starting the program, I had seriously considered pursuing each of the specializations EXCEPT for supply chain. It was only after the Asia Trip, and seeing facets of supply chain up close and personal that I knew that I wanted to start a career down that path.

MIM: How do you think the MIM program helped you get your job?

PD: Concerning the job application process, I believe that the MIM program, and the school of business provide ample opportunities that can make a resume attractive to potential employers. I also think that the school of business allows for great networking opportunities, which I firmly believe are the most effective key to getting a job. Concerning networking, it is my belief that quality outweighs quantity in job prospect-value – solidly connecting with a couple individuals can pay off much more substantially than collecting a hundred business cards, in my experience.

MIM: What is your job like on a daily basis?

PD: I work with external manufacturers to procure customized material for integration at Oracle’s Hillsboro manufacturing plant. This means I spend a lot of time on conference calls and coordinating with materials planners to make sure that material gets shipped on time. 

MIM: What is a typical day for you like at work?

PD: Typically, I start work between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m., and have a conference call at 9:00 a.m. Between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. I take care of urgent short-term issues with planners and work to figure out new material that I have to order for that day, with lunch somewhere in between. To deal with current issues, there is a daily 2:00 p.m. meeting for all members of the group I work in. 3:00–5:00 p.m. is spent placing orders and updating material that is posted for reference by coworkers.

MIM: What do you really love most about your job/position or company?

PD: Currently, I love that I can learn something new every day at my job. There is so much to learn about the company and the industry that there is never a dull moment. This is only enhanced by the quality of the people that I work with. They are all passionate, and incredibly competent individuals that are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with a newcomer to their company and industry.

MIM: What do you hope for your future career plans?

PD: I am really enjoying the procurement field – I hope that it can lead to a position abroad, either for a long-term-ish expat posting, or at least for semi-frequent travel to suppliers.

MIM: What do you think is your most valuable take-away from the MIM program?

PD: The diversity of people that you get to work with in the MIM program was, for me, the most valuable take-away. Having not spent much time in the work-world, it was a huge advantage to gain some exposure to a variety of personalities and working styles.

MIM: What is your favorite memory of the MIM program?

PD: Like everyone else, the Asia Trip was my favorite memory from the MIM program – specifically the week following the formal trip. I had the opportunity to visit Malaysia with a group of MIM-colleagues, and it was the perfect way to continue my first-hand, intercultural experience. 🙂

MIM: What advice can you provide to current and future MIM students?

PD: Stay in touch with your MIM cohort – you don’t realize how important those relationships are until everyone goes back home to their respective countries… plus, all the networking that you hear about starts with your cohort!

Hello MIM Alumni: If you are interested in in being interviewed for the MIM blog we would love to hear from you and hear about your new career! Please email us ataskmim@pdx.edu.

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