Launched in 2001, the International Business Immersion Program (IBIP) has annually taken a group of Illinois undergraduate students with high leadership potential to various countries and continents around the world including Europe, Asia, Brazil, and New Zealand. IBIP is the premier and longest standing program in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics’ suite of experiential learning program offerings. IBIP refines talented young leaders by providing them with an international and cultural perspective, a high-caliber professional network, knowledge about international business, and opportunities for additional study abroad experiences, internships and careers.
IBIP selects undergraduate students to work in high performance, interdisciplinary teams to explore the structure and challenges of the global agriculture and food industry. During the 2017 IBIP experience, 20 students were immersed in the study of real business issues and opportunities faced by firms operating on an international scale in various segments of the food and agribusiness industries. Coursework included a spring semester course, a 14-day international experience in New Zealand, and seven weeks of project work during the fall semester. Read reflections from the students about their time in the program below.
The College of ACES appreciates the companies and partners whose support, both financial and programmatic, make IBIP a rewarding experience for Illinois students. IBIP benefits from longstanding commitments from CGB Enterprises, OSI Group, Doug Roberts Experiential Learning Fund, Lee L. Morgan Endowment, and Arlys Conrad Endowment.
In New Zealand, numerous partners opened their doors to the IBIP students to interact first-hand and share information about global business practices. Much appreciation is given to Mt. Nicholas Station, Lindis Crossing Station, Inverary Station, the Glebe, New Zealand Agriseeds, New Zealand Merino Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Waipara Hills Winery, Zespri International, Comvita, Port of Tauranga, Fonterra, Milk Test NZ, Dairy NZ, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), Waikato Innovation Park, NZ Food Innovation Network, Callaghan Innovation, Better by Design, and Icebreaker New Zealand.
Prior to their travels, students learned from professionals with ADM, the Illinois Farm Bureau, and New Zealand Milk Products.
Thanks to Lincoln University, including former Chancellor Tom Lambie, and the Lincoln Hub for valuable interactions with the IBIP students. The college is grateful to Illinois alumni in New Zealand - Jack and Kate Cocks of Mt. Nicholas Station, Sam and Cynthia Kane of Glenfoyle Station, Mark and Jo Stevenson of the Gums and Resilient Organizations, and Trent Jesso - for their vital contributions to the program. The New Zealand Young Farmers organizations provided hospitality along the journey, as well. In particular, ACES is thankful to our partners at Massey University, especially Dr. Hamish Gow, who founded IBIP when he was a faculty member at Illinois, and his colleague, Phil Morrison.
Reflections from IBIP Student Participants
“Sustainability and being environmentally savvy was discussed at almost every farm or business…I found this to greatly differ with what happens in the United States.” Abby Lashmett
“New Zealanders value their people, their brands, and their relationships. They are willing to make their quality the best it can be and do whatever it takes to get to that point. They are on their own in terms of subsidies, location, and environment. This pushes them to be the best they can be. This allows them to thrive in the global marketplace.” Abby Lashmett
“I have grown more as a professional, and I am now, more than ever, ready to really go out into the world of business…I am more open to change and different cultures.” Abrielle Joseph
“This experience has opened my eyes to a new culture and new livestock management systems that I plan to utilize moving forward…after studying in New Zealand, I have established a new network of people…” Alexandra Ruwe
“What I found insanely interesting was when they started asking us the questions, wanting our input…I started to realize just how important educating the consumer was.” Brandon Whewell
“It was exciting to hear from current farmers in New Zealand that had attended the University of Illinois for further education. It truly proved to me how large the network is for the University of Illinois and how you can find alumni all over the world.” Cody Morris
“While we went to New Zealand to seek answers, I felt that I learned much more about asking questions and looking at situations from different angles.” Collin Smith
“Before visiting the Port of Tauranga, I had never thought twice about logistics. This sparked my interest in careers related to transportation and logistics.” Haley Maples
“Whereas before I would be quiet and awkward, I am now able to make connections with people I do not know, communicate efficiently, and ask good questions.” Jenna Davis
“I realized that I would never have the opportunity again to travel through a whole country, talk to dozens of local people, extensively look at their economy, and do all of that in a span of two weeks.” Justin Zinkl
“I feel much more comfortable in analyzing a situation, problem solving, and then presenting my solution…IBIP is an amazing program, and I would love to encourage more peers to apply.” Kayla Peterson
“The most interesting thing that I realized was that the more I learned about another country’s economy, the better understanding I had of America’s economy.” Krista Temple
“I realized I took for granted all the hard work and effort that is put in every day by hundreds of farmers and companies that work to produce clothes and food for the world.” Lauren Carter
“One of my favorite learning experiences was our meeting with a dairy farmer who produces for Fonterra…he spoke of how to run a business through challenging times.” Leyton Brown
“I could not help but notice the respect they had for their land and country…every citizen took the health of their environment personally…” Leyton Brown
“I have no doubt that in the future, when handed a research-oriented task or assignment, I will be able to fulfill it…because of this class.” Madison Merdian
“Each visit we had was a networking session, job shadow, and company introduction rolled into one…Every time one steps out of their “zone of normality,” wonderful things can happen…professional connections, extraordinary views, and great friendships.” Maggi Maxstadt
“The first specific insight…was the value of the ‘New Zealand Inc.’ identity…another key insight was the importance of innovative management and long-term strategy…respect the past, but take advantage of the future.” Peter Laudeman
“In today’s business world, the biggest thing I noticed in talking to Kiwi businesses…nobody stays where they are for very long.” Sara Lemenager
“I had the opportunity to learn about a completely different country and apply what I learned with hands-on experience…I learned to work as a team by leading and delegating.” Sydney Mumm
“I observed a rural populace that desperately wants to help sustain their homeland, while producing quality consumer goods…shipped halfway across the world.” Wade Beasley
“IBIP gave me an opportunity to learn from the experience of people…a wide range of reference from real-life CEO’s and managers.” Yuxuan Tang