College of Business students in Germany

Jim Walpert enjoyed the international business classes he took from Dr. Frank Butler—one in Mexico in 2013 and another in Germany in May 2014, when they explored the economic, political, cultural and social aspects of Germany and how these factors impact the way business operates in the largest European economy.

Walpert, an MBA student, is an Account Manager for Snap-On Industrial, a supplier for Volkswagen Group of America in Chattanooga. He visits the plant in Chattanooga often and he was particularly interested in visiting the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. The UTC group was astounded at the enormous German facility, where nearly 50,000 people work in five square miles.

Unlike Americans who visit a car lot to pick up a vehicle, Europeans visit the KundenCenter (Customer Center) in Wolfsburg to pick up the new Volkswagen they’ve ordered.   The vehicle comes from an automated delivery system housed in tall, transparent, cylindrical buildings (Autotürme). The UTC students took a ride in the structure.

They learned that one in four Europeans buy Volkswagen brand vehicles, not the same ones we are buying in the United States. While there has been a lot of buzz about the appeal of the CrossBlue SUV scheduled to be produced in Chattanooga, Europeans are more inclined to buy two and four door hatchback models.

“I truly believe UTC business students should take advantage of any study abroad opportunities,” Walpert said. “I would go so far to say UTC business students should be required to do this, so that they are prepared for the global economy. Those who study abroad are prepared to do business in another country and they will be prepared to work with businesses in the U.S. that come from other cultures.”

Butler agrees that all of his students in the class benefitted from the ten-day trip. Though most were graduate students in the MBA program, he also had a criminal justice major and industrial and organizational psychology majors.

“Those interested in human resources now know that in Germany, the benefits package for a worker automatically includes socialized health care unlike in the United States, where the amount of insurance coverage is on the bargaining table,” Butler explained.

Butler is already planning another trip to Germany in May 2015. He will extend the trip to 12 days so that the group can spend more time in Berlin.

“It is a great opportunity for cultural understanding and learning more about international business. I love to watch the students’ faces when they learn new things they did not know or had never experienced,” Butler said.

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