Hit the real world running

Hit the real world running

May 5
Richard Vogen, Director, Planning and Research Development

Twenty of Illinois’ best and brightest undergraduates are getting ready to Hit the Real World Running. For 15 consecutive years, the International Business Immersion Program (IBIP) has prepared the next generation of globally literate entrepreneurial leaders to identify and respond to challenges associated with business operations in the global marketplace. Premier undergraduate students are selected to work in high-performance, interdisciplinary teams to explore the structure and challenges of the global agriculture and food industry. This year, the students in IBIP have focused on New Zealand, a country whose economy is highly dependent on a successful export-oriented food and agriculture sector. For the past semester, they have studied relevant business cases, conducted team research projects on innovative responses to dynamic market and economic conditions, and learned how to act in simulated and real business situations. During the second half of May, they will be tested on the ground in New Zealand, meeting executives and managers of firms that they read about all semester and seeing their business environment first hand.

Trial runs occurred this week. The students first had the opportunity to visit virtually with Joe Coote, President of NZMP Americas, U.S. subsidiary of Fonterra, which is the world’s largest dairy products company. Dairy is New Zealand’s most valuable export category, and Fonterra is New Zealand’s largest company, a farmer-owned cooperative.

Later in the week, the class traveled to Decatur, to see Illinois’ largest agribusiness company, ADM.  Of course, ADM is a global leader in originating, processing, trading, and moving products to markets in the food and agriculture space. Our hosts were Matthew Hopkins, VP Export Trading (ACE 2003, BS), Kyle Falk, Sr. Trader - Export Feed Grains (ACE 2011, BS), and Megan (Harshbarger) Neibuhr, College Relations Recruiter-Human Resources (UIS, Communications 2012, BA).

Students were able to view the action on the company’s trading floor and Matt gave a great overview of the ADM’s business units. With Kyle’s assistance, Matt also shared a little of his expertise and insights about the Ag Services global segment. Megan shared information on internship and employment opportunities with ADM, as well as giving a nice overview of the WILD Flavors & Specialty Ingredients, the business unit created from ADM’s most recent major acquisition.

IBIP is sponsored by Bunge, CGB, CoBank, Monsanto, and OSI Group, in addition to: Roberts Experiential Education Fund, International Programs and Studies (IPS), ACES Office of Academic Programs (Study Abroad), and ACES Office of International Programs. Private donors and various corporate sponsors also support the program with generous financial and in-kind donations.

Taught in Agricultural and Consumer Economics, IBIP is cross-listed as ACE/BADM 436, also in the College of Business. Students selected come from diverse backgrounds, majors and interests. After the students return to campus in the fall of 2017, they will synthesize their findings into multi-media projects for public presentation after the ACES career fair. Since 2001, the International Business Immersion Program has been shaping exceptional young leaders through research, networking and experience to prepare them to Hit the Real World Running.

IBIP 2017