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American Business Experience students

July 2012


The kind of practical experience demanded by companies worldwide is unavailable to a majority of college business students in India.

That's a void Ryan Dye, PhD, and Arun Pillutla, PhD, knew St. Ambrose could fill.

The result is the American Business Experience, a hands-on program for international students majoring in business. The three-week program was launched in 2010 by Dye, director of the Center for International Education at St. Ambrose, and Pillutla, an SAU business professor and native of India.

"We wanted to introduce students-particularly Indian students-to the SAU brand," Dye said.

Initially, the focus was narrowed to the St. Francis College for Women in Hyderabad, India, a city of more than 4 million residents located in the south central portion of the country.

"The St. Francis students typically have several graduate schools in mind," Dye said, "and by experiencing what St. Ambrose is all about, we thought they could have St. Ambrose on their radar screens. And it's working."

Participation is growing, from four students in 2010 to 10 a year ago. This year, 12 were on campus for three weeks in May and June, including two males, Rohan Reddy of the University of Hyderabad and Marko Vukoja of the School of Economics and Management in Zagreb, Croatia. Reddy and Vukoja began internships at Wahl Clipper Corp. in Sterling, Ill., after completing the ABE program on June 14.

While there is plenty of focus on the academic side of business, ABE students also acclimate to American culture and learn to understand its nuances, valuable skills in the international world of business.

Being on time, for instance. "In India, if you are half an hour late, it's no big deal," said ABE student Sadhvi Kewalramani. "Here, that is a very big deal. Timeliness is something I have learned."

The students also are discovering young women are far more independent in the U.S. For Indian parents in particular, Dye said, that is important. "They know that for these women to succeed in their jobs, they need to have more experience, particularly American experience," he said. "And that's what the ABE provides them."

It is a welcome change from Indian classrooms.

"It gives us a lot of exposure to business and management styles and we're learning more about practical knowledge rather than empirical," Kewalramani said. "Back in India, it's more about theory."

This year's daily schedule included a morning lecture with one of 18 participating St. Ambrose professors and an afternoon session at an area company or enterprise where they could see the morning's lesson in action.

This included trips to Deere and Co., to survey American innovations, managements systems and creativity; Wahl Clipper Corp., to explore cross cultural leadership; and Bandag, Inc., in Muscatine, Iowa, to see how teams in business work.

"This program is systematic and organized," said Bhavana Buddhavarapu.

"You learn it, and then apply it," Divya Kosaraju added.

– Robin Youngblood

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