December 06, 2002

MBA Students at UCLA Anderson Release Recommendations for Helping New Zealand High Tech Firms Expand Their Reach to the United States

Six-month project with the New Zealand Trade Development Board provides students and tech firms with world of opportunities

Los Angeles — After six months of intense interviews, research and international networking, students in the Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) program at UCLA Anderson will reveal their findings regarding the potential of five New Zealand industry sectors to break into U.S. markets. The students will present their recommendations to corporate executives, faculty members and fellow students during sessions scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 12, 2002, at UCLA Anderson's Korn Convocation Hall.

The findings are the result of a collaborative field study project launched this past summer with the New Zealand Trade Development Board (Trade New Zealand). The project is designed to help New Zealand high tech firms expand their reach to the United States. During their presentations, the students will be questioned by 20 panelists from New Zealand, including government officers, executives, corporate leaders and university officials, about the details of their findings and their research methodology. In addition, approximately 40 panelists in four New Zealand cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin) will participate by videoconference.

More than 50 UCLA Anderson FEMBA students traveled to New Zealand over the summer to hold group sessions with various sectors at Trade New Zealand. The students were divided into field study teams for each of the five industry sectors: health IT, wireless, software, biotechnology and creative/new media.

"These studies conducted for the government of New Zealand by the FEMBA students highlight the specific challenges and opportunities faced by foreign-based companies in the information, communications and technology sectors as they attempt to enter the U.S. marketplace," said Victor Tabbush, associate dean, FEMBA program, and adjunct professor of global economics and management, who leads the FEMBA course titled, "International Field Study — Single Client Model."

Many New Zealand companies have had difficulties accessing and building a presence in the United States due to issues of specialization, scale and lack of marketing management expertise, access to capital, and distance from the market. Trade New Zealand helps client companies achieve success in North America through a variety of programs, including the International Field Study Project with UCLA Anderson.

The participating students are in their final year at UCLA Anderson and juggle demanding full-time work, and in some cases, family schedules, while completing the field study program.

"It's truly the diversity of students' experiences that add value and credence to their work with Trade New Zealand," said Prof. Tabbush.

Ranging from vice presidents, business managers, entrepreneurs and finance directors to scientists, engineers, physicians and surgeons, the FEMBA students bring a wealth of experience and expertise in a number of arenas to Trade New Zealand. By teaming such diverse backgrounds into various working groups, Trade New Zealand benefits from the combined wealth of knowledge that team members share.

The required project, challenging in many aspects, is perhaps most difficult when the teams attempted to schedule the long hours of group meetings to accommodate all members, said liver transplant surgeon Howard Takiff, a FEMBA student and member of the biotech sector on this project. The students interviewed 60 companies participating in the Trade New Zealand study to better understand their business structure and challenges they face in breaking into the highly competitive U.S. markets.

FEMBA student David Kershner, who is helping orchestrate a major restructuring at Boeing and is assigned to the creative/new media sector, was impressed with the very wide and detailed scope of the New Zealand project, as well as the practical knowledge UCLA Anderson field study assignment provided.

Kershner notes that although his team never found the "golden egg" that would ultimately guarantee success for New Zealand companies entering the U.S. market, his hands-on experience was more reflective of the real world and invaluable to him as he prepares for his career path post-MBA.

"I have made wonderful contacts and participated in a massive consulting process," Kershner said. "In working through many of the challenges throughout the project, I learned how to adapt to changing situations quickly and professionally."

These MBA-bound students have significant work experience and have already established themselves as managers in their respective careers. As business leaders, they have inevitably encountered complex and challenging decisions through the course of their work; however, the international field study project is unique in its broad scope and focus on the critical value of teamwork in today's global business environment.

The FEMBA International Field Study has the following objectives and benefits for participating UCLA Anderson students:
To integrate, apply and extend the FEMBA curriculum in the context of a hands-on, top-level business consulting experience.
To learn the complexities and subtleties of doing business internationally.
To develop business research skills that will be helpful to supporting business decision-making.
To utilize team processes and efforts to accomplish a large, complex and challenging business problem.
To utilize state-of-the-art web-based communications and project management tools.

The benefits for participating companies include:
Speeding up the development of their market entry strategies for North America.
Establishing business relationships with the U.S. students and their industry contacts.
Working alongside a New Zealand Advisory Board representing specialist industry advisors.

FEMBA student Takiff considers the field study a culmination of his educational experience at UCLA Anderson. It has provided him a chance to integrate all that he has learned through coursework and interactions with faculty advisors into meaningful analysis for the New Zealand clients.

"Some of the most interesting and valuable learning experience involved the 'general' knowledge I gained about strategies to attack complex projects using the full resources of a group's capabilities," Takiff said.

The client companies of Trade New Zealand range from privately-held startup firms to large entities such as Weta Studios, a major powerhouse in New Zealand that produced an abundance of the visuals for all three "Lord of the Rings" films.

About Trade New Zealand

As a government agency, Trade New Zealand provides leadership and support to enable New Zealand to be a real force in the global economy. Trade New Zealand facilitates trade, international investments and exchange of knowledge into New Zealand and out into the world.

About UCLA Anderson

UCLA Anderson is perennially ranked among the top-tier business schools in the world. Award winning faculty renowned for their research and teaching, highly selective students, successful alumni and world-class facilities combine to provide an extraordinary learning opportunity. Established in 1935, UCLA Anderson provides management education to more than 1,300 students enrolled in full-time, part-time and executive MBA programs and academic master's and Ph.D. programs.

The school's faculty includes outstanding educators and researchers who share their scholarship and expertise in such fundamental areas as finance, marketing, accounting, business economics, decisions, operations and technology management, human resources and organizational behavior, information systems, strategy and policy.

Recognizing that the school offers unparalleled expertise in management education, the world's business community turns to UCLA Anderson as a center of influence for the ideas, innovations, strategies and talent that will shape the future.

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