Bocconi Campus Abroad program builds cross-cultural connections

Aug 02, 2016
Bocconi and Beedie students tour Holt Renfrew.

Bocconi and Beedie students tour Holt Renfrew.

The Beedie School of Business continues to build strong ties in international business education through the Bocconi Campus Abroad program.

For three weeks in July a cohort of 29 students from the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan traveled to Vancouver to take a condensed course in marketing with a select number of Beedie students.

The Bocconi Campus Abroad program has been active for nine years, with a different topic being co-taught by two Bocconi professors and an SFU instructor each year. This year focused on marketing communications, with participating students given exclusive corporate tours of high end department store Holt Renfrew, advertising agency McCann Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

“Our students come out of this program with new innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, and a greater understanding of business abroad,” says Liana Swedahl, Coordinator of International Programs and Partnerships. “Many students told us after the visits that the honest perspectives and micro and macro views into these companies have made them rethink in a very positive way what they want to do once they graduate.”

International programs like this are so much more than a classroom education and for Bocconi and Beedie students alike the program is a crash course in cross-cultural communication. Both parties leave Vancouver and the program with a deeper understanding of each other and how business is conducted in different markets.

“Even though our students aren’t the ones going abroad we still see them experience forms of culture shock as they are immersed in an Italian classroom in Canada,” says Swedahl. “As they work through the experience and with the students from Italy we eventually see both groups of students adapting and flourishing in their new environment.”

For Beedie student Raisa Crisologo taking part in the program has been an eye opening experience. From later mealtimes, to class presentations, the Bocconi program has been a crash course in Italian life and education.

“Taking a class by an Italian professor was a departure from what I know,” says Cisologo. “For instance, in Italy not everyone in a group has to present, instead one person who is the strongest presenter is chosen. I like that style.”

For Bocconi student Martina Antuofermo, visiting Holt Renfrew was a major highlight – besides attending a Canadian football game.

The students were given a tour of the department store, where they could see many of the designer labels that are born out of Milan. They were also treated to a behind the scenes look at the company’s marketing strategy and advertising campaigns, presented by Holt Renfrew Marketing Manager, Carla Stef.

“It was the most informal presentation, but also the most accurate and on point,” says Antuofermo. “I see what we do differently in Italy now, and I think I’ve learned something by coming to Vancouver, and especially Holt Renfrew. This experience is something I will definitely bring into my career.”

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