By Maren Cartwright, BottomLine contributor
Utah State University students graduating from the International MBA program in Food and Agribusiness are ready to take on the world.
In a unique exchange between USU and the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, England, students enrolled in the program receive the educational background and hands-on experience necessary to secure leadership positions in the globally competitive food-related industry.
DeeVon Bailey, professor and interium head of the Department of Economics, started the program in 1999 to provide additional opportunities for graduate students interested in pursuing careers in the food industry.
"The international orientation of the program gives students a world-class education and opens up so many new horizons," said Bailey. "Our graduates work all over the world."
The program readies students to work with the social, cultural, production and consumption conditions of the world's major markets and gives students experience working with producers, processors, consumers and policy makers in the food industry.
"The exposure to different market systems has further enhanced my business education and I feel that makes me an asset for a company not just in the United States but around the world," said Cody Bingham, a USU student enrolled in the program.
Five students from the United States and five students from England begin their studies at USU for one semester and then go on to England for a semester.
The semester is followed by a six-week research-based group project, after which the USU students return home to complete a thesis. Graduates receive an MBA from the Royal Agricultural College.
The Royal Agricultural College makes arrangements for the six-week research project with private companies located throughout Europe. Students are split into teams and then work as consultants for the company conducting research and reporting their findings.
"Our students are working in international industry before even graduating with their degree," said Bailey.
Most of the students enrolled in the program have undergraduate degrees in business and want to end up working in the food business, said Bailey. Some leave the program working as consultants for large international companies, others have gone on to work for state farm bureaus and others return home to run a family-owned farm.
"I grew up on a farm in south central Idaho and have worked on that farm since childhood," said Cody Bingham. "However, after completing my international MBA, I hope to maintain my farm and then jump into corporate agribusiness and work for someone like John Deere."
Many USU students enrolled in the program are married and take spouses with them to England, said Bailey. They secure housing, buy a car and learn about living life in a different place, in a different culture, he said.
"My family and I loved living in the United Kingdom," said Sterling Liddell, a graduate of the program and senior research development analyst at the Iowa Farm Bureau. "Every day presented a new adventure. Just getting lost in a drive between towns could result in the discovery of new things like street markets, local celebrations and breathtaking scenery."
Students also learn the differences between a United States education and education abroad.
"The program allowed me to experience the different cultural, economic and value systems that drive business and marketing practices in other countries," said Liddell. "Many times our own cultural views prohibit us from truly understanding a global business effectively. The international MBA program went a long way toward teaching me how to interact and be effective in an international environment."
Bingham said the program is challenging, but that the rewards of the experience make the program worth completing.
"Unlike most of my classmates, I had worked for more than 10 years as a marketing director in Europe when I joined the program," said Simon J. Ryan, a graduate of the program and freelance marketing consultant from England. "Professionally, the program brought a new intellectual rigor to how I approach work and returned me back into the workforce with a number of new skills and changed perspectives."
As the program continues to grow and flourish, Bailey said this will open up more opportunities for future students. USU and the Royal Agriculture College are looking to establish additional programs in China and India, thus enhancing the global aspects of the program.
"We want to give our students the world," said Bailey.
For more information about the USU International MBA in Food and Agribusiness, visit http://www.usu.edu/cob/degreesmajors/internationalMBA.cfm or contact Bailey, 435-797-2300, firstname.lastname@example.org.