The World Trade Association of Utah interviewed BYU Professor of Global Supply Chain, Scott Webb, about the BYU student trip to Greece where students learned about international and Greek business and were immersed in Greek culture.

What is the purpose of the student trip to Greece?

In 2016, Savage Services endowed the BYU Global Supply Chain program with $3.1M to provide BYU MBA students with a world-class learning experience. We prioritized this money to give BYU MBA students a Global Business consulting experience, specifically in the supply chain. BYU MBA takes a portion of the interest earned on that endowment each year to fund student travel to consulting projects around the Globe. The endowment specifically funds student travel for 20 students to personally travel and engage in global consulting studies. Students in the past have traveled to England, France, Italy, Greece, South Africa, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, China, and Russia. They have completed consulting studies that have saved businesses well over $30M in the past 6 years. We provide all services free of charge to companies (unless they require extra travel and then we ask them to pay for the travel) as we prioritize this as a learning experience for our students and not as a money-making endeavor. 

We selected Greece for our companies to consult with this year for 3 major reasons:

  1. Greece was both travel-friendly and covid cautious, which made traveling here a wise selection. Everyone in Greece wore masks and all public businesses required covid vaccination proof, alleviating much of the stress of traveling with a large group during the pandemic. No one in our group contracted Covid during the trip due to Greece’s strict requirements.
  2. Greek businesspeople are business savvy. Greece has had some difficult years, financially, leading to the companies that have survived becoming very adept at their business. It is beneficial for the students to see well-run businesses that are also open to outside help. 
  3. I love Greece because the people are very friendly, the history and sights are incredible, and it has great food. In short, as an advisor to over 20 students, it is an easy country to visit. 

What are you hoping the students take away from their trip?

I hope my students consider themselves Global citizens. There seems to be so much nationalism in the world right now and I want my students to understand that business does not have boundaries and acts as a way to help people everywhere in the world. 

My biggest hope is that the MBA students will recognize that the USA way of doing business is not always the best way of doing business. In the USA, we tend to be transactional in our business approach, while many other countries, including Greece, are more focused on relationships in business. I try to make sure that all my students get the opportunity to eat a good meal with our company hosts. Spending a long dinner with our Greek clients ended up being important to help the students recognize the importance of building relationships in business. We had a wonderful dinner with gracious hosts. 

The students do not really get graded on their consulting studies, therefore the motivation for them to do a good job is based purely on the reputation of our consulting agency. I like that they need to work through communication barriers, time barriers, cultural barriers, etc. to accomplish their studies. One of the problems with traditional education is that it is too theoretical and too precise. The real world is messy and focuses more on getting the job done than on theory. The consulting studies with Greek companies are a nice bridge between academia and the real world. I hope that our students leave this experience with a stronger recognition of what it takes to succeed in global business.

It is also important to me that businesses around the world recognize the extraordinary educational opportunities that the BYU MBA has to offer. We have extraordinary students and our program provides exposure along with a strong academic preparation giving them an excellent education.    

I also hope that my students love Greece as much as I do. I think part of the program that is truly special is that we got to dig into company problems and meet local business and technical people. This allowed us to see Greece in a much better way than most tourists who only see cultural sights and eat great food; We got to know the great people of Greece and got to see how they have established companies and policies. It was an insightful experience for the students. 

How long was the trip?

The total trip was 11 days in Greece, with 2 travel days. 

We spent 4 of the days doing consulting studies and 4 days visiting Delphi, Olympia, the Parthenon, Ancient Mycenae, and Corinth. The students also had three free days to explore. 

Is this a trip for only business students (for example) or open to anyone interested?

It is for 20 BYU MBA students and is fully funded through scholarships from the Savage Service endowment. Students are called “Savage Scholars” and the consulting agency they run is called BYU-MBA Savage Global Consulting. Students go through a rigorous selection process to be accepted as a Savage Scholar. We are always looking for international consulting projects, even ones that we do remotely. About 70% of our students speak a second language and have lived in a foreign country. 

Can you share a quote from any of the students from the trip on the most valuable thing they learned?

Student, Ling Scalese says:

“The best thing that I learned in Greece is the culture. In Greece, interpersonal relationships within families are a lot closer than in the US. Children, in general, carry responsibilities inherited from parents, so family business is common. I love how tight the relationships are as families with frequent weekly reunions. People in Greece value meal time to spend with families to bond and build their relationships. With that being said, if we are doing business with people in Greece, trust-building without only talking business is very important.”

Copyright © 2024 World Trade Association of Utah
Copyright © 2024 World Trade Association of Utah