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Students Experience the Scandinavian Perspective on International Business

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JUNE 24, 2013 – Fourteen students in the School of Business at The University of Texas at Brownsville recently returned from a three-week study abroad trip to Sweden and Denmark.
The group visited the Danish Ministry of Technology, Research, Innovation and Higher Education.
The group visited the Danish Ministry of Technology, Research, Innovation and Higher Education.
Dr. Mostafa Malki, Associate Professor in the Department of Finance and Economics said the focus of the trip was to meet with public and private officials in charge of economic and business development.
“The trip was organized to provide students majoring or doing graduate work in international business to learn about this specialized area from a first-hand perspective,” Malki said. “This experience also gave our students an inroad to build strategic alliances and partnerships with the different entities we visited – both at the university level as well as the community, regional and cross-border levels.”

Danish Highlights

In Aalborg, Denmark, the students met with the CEO of GomSpace, a new nanotechnology company working on nano-satellite platforms.
“This place was awesome; they are working on cutting-edge technology,” said Alejandro Arizpe, a graduate student from Matamoros working on his Master of Business Administration. “They are the creators of Cubesat, the nano-satellites that are ideal for cost-effective missions that focus on technological research and low-cost science.”
“Representatives from the Öresund Committee were very welcoming,” Malki said. “This organization promotes cross-border integration and economic development between Denmark and Sweden, making it an ideal institution to visit because we are working on something similar between Brownsville and Matamoros, the Bi-National Economic Development (BINED).”
Danish-French conceptual artist Thierry Geoffroy met with the students at the Copenhagen Library.
Danish-French conceptual artist Thierry Geoffroy met with the students at the Copenhagen Library.
In Copenhagen, the Danish Business Authority and the Ministry of Technology, Research, Innovation and Higher Education gave presentations to the group on topics related to innovation, entrepreneurship and its ecosystem, collaboration between research centers, the private sector, and the public sector and also on promotion of international trade.
“It was a treat for us to go to the Mexican Embassy in Copenhagen, where we had a meeting with the chief of mission,” said Sergio Salazar, a junior accounting and management major from Matamoros. “We felt right at home, hearing about how Mexico promotes its economic activity and business in Copenhagen.”
The students also enjoyed a rare, off-the-beaten-path experience that took place at the Copenhagen Library, where they met with Thierry Geoffroy, a Danish-French conceptual artist known for his social-commentary art.

Swedish Highlights

Dr. Per Tryding, Vice President of Sweden’s largest Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Malmo, Sweden, hosted the UTB students. Tryding and his team discussed international trade support, networking, research and communication, business contacts and skills transfer between companies in southern Sweden and the companies’ immediate markets.
The group was impressed with the Krinova Innovation and Science Park in Kristianstad, Sweden, a city/university business incubator where about 80 companies of various sizes are located in the Krinova building.
“We were all surprised to hear that businesses in Sweden are no longer creating standard business plans, but instead use what they call a ‘business canvas model,’” said Jesus Saenz, a finance and management senior from Brownsville. “This is a much more interactive and dynamic map of a business that can be adjusted to changes in the company.”
In Lund, Sweden, they toured the headquarters of Tetra Pak, the company that originated milk cartons that require no refrigeration and have a long shelf life. Now a global enterprise packaging milk, fruit juices and a variety of healthy foods, Tetra Pak has operations in more than 170 countries.
The students said they were thrilled to be at the headquarters of this innovative company, to tour the plant, talk to engineers and designers in research and development and learn about Tetra Pak’s continued research in sustainability.
“We saw the specialized recycling equipment,” said Jesus Manuel Cavazos, a senior accounting major from Brownville. “I know we were all inspired after leaving Tetra Pak.”

Living Local and Seeing the Sights

Sara Naranjo, a Master of Business Administration student from Tijuana, Mexico, was amazed at the healthy style of living that she and the group witnessed on the trip.
“Everything is approached with a focus on sustainability, in both people’s jobs and daily life,” Naranjo said. “There is a culture of healthy lifestyles that includes highly organized recycling supported by the government – and we saw lots people using bicycles in the cities and towns.”
In between their many business appointments, the students managed to work in some sightseeing that included a day trip to Stockholm, where they toured the unique Vasa Museum, the Vasamuseet, an almost intact 17th century warship, raised from the sea after three centuries underwater. In Copenhagen, they visited the National Museum of Denmark and 17th-century Rosenborg Castle, complete with the country’s crown jewels.

Looking toward 2014

Dr. Alla Paroiatnikova, Executive Director for the Office of Global Engagement, said future business students will have the opportunity to participate in this study abroad trip since the first one was so successful.
“Our hosts greeted us with hospitality and were so kind and generous with their time and in sharing their expertise with our students,” said Malki. “Everyone we had appointments with made it clear they would be delighted to have another group from UTB visit next year. I can see this program growing tremendously.”
Naranjo said she will encourage others to take advantage of going on the trip next year.
“We all returned to Brownsville exhausted, on the one hand, and exhilarated on the other,” Naranjo said. “Now we are eager to finish our studies to actively participate in the economic development of our region.”
For more information on study abroad contact the Office of Global Engagement at 956-882-7092 or


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