December 6, 2011
The Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership provides international immersion experiences for students; the success of the spring Startup Israel trip and the summer Brazil business plan competition set a high precedent for the “Chindia” trip, which is scheduled from December 27 – January 11. AEL recently brought together students and business leaders on November 21 for a day of networking and discussion in downtown Chicago.
At the Developing Future Global Leaders event, students from the College of Business were joined by students from across the campus who will go to China or India this year, explained AEL Director for Information and Research Services Cindy Kehoe.
To kick off the event, representatives from Monsanto, Aon Corporation, MAT Capital and the Chicago China Resources group addressed students.
John Chambers, Global Product Management Lead for Monsanto’s three regions in Asia, travelled to Chicago solely to present at the AEL event. Chambers talked about the challenges of selling U.S. products in emerging markets, noting that strategies vary greatly based on location.
MBA alumnus and active college supporter Paul Lubbers, senior vice president at Aon, shared how his early international experiences helped build international business skills that were invaluable later in his career.
Martin Beck, Managing Director with Shandong Heavy Industry Group and MAT Capital, spoke about his experience helping Chinese companies find suitable business partners in the United States. Beck emphasized the importance of being able to do business internationally.
John Robinson of the Chicago China Resources Group talked about how his international experiences led him to entrepreneurial opportunities in Chicago.
Teams of students then met with executives over lunch. Nicole Bell, an Accounting student at Illinois, greatly enjoyed the dialogue. “I talked to several executives about their experiences and international connections,” she said. “It was exciting to learn just how important international experiences can be.”
“It is not enough to learn about business in a classroom; I would like to experience emerging markets firsthand,” Bell said. “It’s clear to me that private support from donors plays a critical role in transforming Illinois students into global operators who are culturally fluent.”
After lunch, students presented their international experiences at Illinois. Bell, who will travel with the Chindia class, spoke about the university’s strengths as an international campus.
Ehsan Noursalehi, who studied engineering as an undergraduate and is now doing a master’s in industrial design, spoke of his experience as a young entrepreneur, and about co-founding Illini Prosthetics Team (IPT). Noursalehi and the IPT team recently conducted field work in Guatemala to support their design of low-cost prosthetic arms, funded in part by AEL’s Illinois Launch program.
In his talk, entitled "Students Making Global Impact," Noursalehi said that students can make an impact on a variety of world issues, and that students’ curiosity, creativity and energy give them an advantage in the world marketplace. Noursalehi also noted that the campus has a wealth of resources to help students “turn their visions into realities.”
Michael Bell, a successful young entrepreneur, attended the event and talked with current students. As a student, Bell travelled with AEL Director John Clarke to India, China and Hong Kong, and then started a successful company based in part on his international experiences while attending the College of Business.
In the afternoon, AEL Executive Director John Clarke welcomed Yang Guoqiang, the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Chicago. Mr. Yang listened to student presentations, shared his insights and experiences, and took questions from the group.
Student Nicole Bell said she found Yang’s talk to be highly stimulating. “I learned a substantial amount about the growth of the Chinese economy but also the changing business practices in China,” Bell noted.
The highly successful educational day was followed by an informal networking session.