For one week in August, 25 Massey MBA and MACC students traveled to Dublin and London to learn about the economic and business environments and the local cultures. Led by Dr. Susan Taylor, the group had a fast-paced trip and took in as much of both capitals as could be crammed into each day.
The trip began early Sunday, August 16th with a guided tour of Dublin, taking in the rows of Georgian houses, the River Liffey, and St. Patrick's Cathedral, among other sights. That evening, the Massey group was treated to a traditional Irish dinner, featuring the local favorite Beef and Guinness pie, followed by a show. We were impressed with the performances by both the traditional Irish folk group and the traditional dancers. The southern charm of a few Massey students must have made an impression on the Irish band members as they dedicated a closing song to a few students in the Belmont delegation.
Over the next three days, we visited various businesses from the biotech (Alltech, pictured above), manufacturing, accounting, and distillery industries, as well as took a group trip to the Guinness brewery. One highlight was a visit to Forfas, an economic advisory agency, where we heard a fascinating presentation on how Ireland plans to position themselves to survive the current economic downturn and move forward with sustainable growth. Another was the visit to the Jameson and Sons Distillery. Despite the realization that our group was from the region of a major competitor, we still got a fantastic and detailed presentation about the marketing strategy in the U.S. and abroad for Jameson's products.
On Thursday, August 20th, the group jumped the Irish Sea and traveled to London. The scale of London, and the pace, contrasted with that of Dublin, and the group took in as much of the architecture and history as possible in a whirlwind tour that included the crypt of St. Paul's and the Tower of London's collection of the crown jewels. With a free evening, the Massey group dove into exploring the city, with students branching out to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus.
Our last day brought us to Kesslers International and the U.S. Embassy. Kesslers showed us how they maintain a flexible manufacturing process in order to adjust as quickly as possible to meet client needs. They spoke of how they have defied conventional wisdom that suggested they cut costs by outsourcing manufacturing, instead investing heavily in people and machinery to keep their customers as happy as possible. Lastly, at the U.S. Embassy, the Massey group braved the stringent security and met with two embassy representatives that spoke of the cultural and economic closeness of the U.K. and U.S., as well as gave us a look into the life of a foreign services employee.
Boarding the plane Saturday morning, it was truly remarkable what all we had seen, thanks to Dr. Taylor and our guides from International Study Programs (ISP). Despite the relative cultural closeness of Ireland and England to the U.S., our group continually swapped stories of significant differences in the business cultures, the approaches to economic sustainability, and the social elements between the three countries. It was a valuable experience, and left many wondering when they could venture back, either for pleasure, or for a job opportunity.