Tag Archives: Master of International Management

MIM Survival Guide: Where to find networking events in Portland

jackie wang talking
Many 2012 cohort MIM students are deep into their job search requesting informational interviews, applying to various positions and attending networking events. The new cohort may ask, “How did you get started? What resources did you use to jumpstart your career search?” Networking is certainly one of the most important aspects of any job search today, so below is a list of community and SBA resources our cohort has found useful over the past year.
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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 Candid Photo Contest

MIM Candid Photo Contest

All MIM cohorts, alumni, and professors are encouraged to participate! Fifteen winners will receive cash prizes and have their work displayed in the SBA.

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by | October 14, 2013 · 8:43 AM

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!

 

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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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New Framework for Intercultural Communications

HCG Many classes in the Master of International Management program have students focus on frameworks such as Hofestede’s cultural dimensions to better understand cultural differences and how to work effectively with international teams. Recently, I stumbled upon a consulting agency based in the UAE that provides an extensive look on 12 cultural dimensions that all business persons should consider when interacting with teams from around the world. Below is a brief overview of the 12 Dimensions of Culture developed by a team of international expatriates from Knowledgeworkx. Continue reading

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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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Filed under Josh's Entries, Portland