Korea Welcomes Thunderbirds

By: Alina Buzgar, News Editor

Taking part in a case competition is hard enough, so when we heard that two of our students travelled over 6,000 miles to compete on the international marketing stage we sat down with them to learn from their experience.

On November 21, 2014, Sylvia Imbrock and Michael Robinson took the long road to Korea to participate in the case competition organized within the “2014 Korean Scholars of Marketing Science International Conference”. This was made possible because Dr. Seigyoung Auh submitted the top marketing projects of the MBA Global Marketing course Fall 2014 to be considered for this competition. All four entries were accepted, however, only two teams finally participated due to the short notice and because the groups had to make their decisions based on visa accessibility, expenses, and time availability.

Photo Courtesy of Imbrock
Photo Courtesy of Imbrock

Sylvia recalls her first impressions: “This was easily the most challenging project for me during the first trimester and it was rewarding to take it all the way to Korea! It was really neat meeting the other students and marketing pros. It was a great opportunity to see what Asian marketers are interested in, how they structure their inquiries. Many participants in the marketing case competition were so young and speaking English so quickly! It was impressive.” At lunch, on the first day of the conference, a Chinese colleague offered to show them around Ewha Womens University’s campus. The school’s student union building was a very modern piece of land-based architecture built into a hill on campus. They had the student bookstore there, a few restaurants, meeting spaces, and a Starbucks! “I’m from Seattle, so I found that pretty novel. Unlike Japanese Starbucks, Korean Starbucks drinks are full-sized.” said Sylvia with a smile.

Photo Courtesy of Imbrock
Photo Courtesy of Imbrock

“We all have skills that we may take for granted in our home environments, but these skills can transfer very well into other cultures and settings and even help us to stand out. It’s important to remember that and take inventory of our abilities when writing a resume.” says Mike. Moreover, Sylvia and Mike both agreed that it was a great crash course on how to travel for business. Even if all the details were not clear right away and they didn’t know what to expect, the two jumped at the opportunity and started the visa application process right away. Sylvia recalls: “I must have spent as much time on the plane as I did in Korea. I prepared myself with a neck pillow, ear plugs, eye covering. As far as the conference, it was great exposure to marketing in Asia, and wow… Seoul. Seoul with 26.5 million people and nary a cubic inch without wifi.”

Photo Courtesy of Imbrock
Photo Courtesy of Imbrock

“Having an excellent team is crucial.” says Mike. “Being able to trust them to follow through on commitments and do quality work is also vital to working together and being successful. The balance, harmony and trust among our team members led to free expression of ideas and powerful critical thinking sessions. There wasn’t any wasted effort, all input was valuable and we have a lot of respect for each other. These qualities in our group led to a fantastic final product.” To top it off, Mike reconnected with a good friend from his undergraduate studies and went to dinner with him and his family. “His mother scolded me for not finishing all of my food and then told me I would be more attractive if I lost weight. Make up your mind Jake’s mom,” jokes Mike.

Photo Courtesy of Imbrock
Photo Courtesy of Imbrock

For Sylvia the experience was enhanced with a traditional lunch, a visit the main palace to see the changing of the guard and to take a tour grounds, and of course wander around in a street markets. “I love food shopping in foreign countries, so the first evening I hit up a little convenience market across the street from our hotel for flavored tofu on sticks, pickled eggs, sweet coffee, and the little nori-wrapped triangles of rice.” Sylvia exclaims enthusiastically.

Photo Courtesy of Imbrock
Photo Courtesy of Imbrock

About the conference:

Under the tagline “Customer and Sustainability in Marketing and Management”, 150 participants took part in the conference and about 50 in the case competition.

Keynote speaker: Amna Kirmani (University of Maryland)

Editor-Elect of Journal of Consumer Psychology

President-Elect of Association for Consumer Research

The case competition jury was comprised of:

Committee Chair: Sangdo Oh (Ulsan National Institute of Technology)

Committee Members: Seung Yun Lee (Konkuk University)

Hyeon-Sook Shim (Baehwa Women’s University)

Photo Courtesy of Imbrock
Photo Courtesy of Imbrock

Acknowledgements to Dr. Auh for taking the projects to an international stage. A special mention to the other team members whose hard work ensured a spot at the case competition: Aayush Sawhney, Aaron Hale, Kaladhar, Robert Calkins, Roger Sequeira, Yuya Ota, Sarunyu Thepbunchonchai, and Isha Rao.

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