Two classrooms for College of Business and Education classes went global Wednesday as almost 50 RU students completed collaborative international projects.
Members of Assistant Professor Axel Grossmann’s international finance class and Associate Professor Michael Chatham’s accounting for decision making and control class worked with peers from Universität Kassel in Germany and Blaise Pascal University in France.
The undergraduate RU accounting and finance students collaborated with peers at Kassel to make buy/sell recommendations on the stocks of four international companies and also studied each other’s cultures. In the process, they collected pertinent financial data and applied it using financial theory and modeling techniques to complete written reports and PowerPoint presentations for the event.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to apply what I have learned to a real-world problem,” said Morgan Shrader, a senior accounting and finance major from Christiansburg, who was part of a six-person German-American team that analyzed Tiffany & Co. and determined its stock to be overvalued.
Seven other multinational teams studied FedEx, Microsoft Corp., Pfizer Inc. and Tiffany using the financial analysis techniques of asset valuation and weighted average cost of capital. They presented and defended their recommendations at the teleconference, facilitated by RU’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning and the Department of Information Technology.
“Using the same data, you did not get the same results. That is the real world,” said Grossmann, who coordinated the project with Kassel Professor Rainer Stöttner.
Julie Neece, a senior accounting and finance major from Franklin County, empathized with her German counterparts who were working in English, their second language. She said her teammates opted for email as the preferred medium for communication over Skype because the six-hour time difference was not a big obstacle and their communication could be more precise.
“You could tell communicating was nerve-wracking for them,” she said. “They wanted things to be said right, and it was harder for them than us.”
The pressure—both linguistic and business —was also on the French students from Blaise Pascal in Wednesday’s resumption of the Dragon’s Den project. Now in its third year, the project alternates Radford and Blaise Pascal students as venture capitalists and aspiring entrepreneurs seeking start-up funding. This semester, the French students were cast as entrepreneurs who pitched their business proposals by teleconference to members of Radford University’s graduate accounting class portraying venture capitalists capable of funding the projects.
“The economy is global now, and this experience helps me to see how international business is done,” said Tim Felts, an MBA student from Wytheville.
The RU venture capitalists were solicited for almost a half-million euros by Blaise Pascal’s international group of entrepreneurs representing the United States, Turkey, Spain, China and France for projects that included an international student services company, a Parisian handicraft boutique, a European e-tourism concern and an Asian-style karaoke business.
“Global projects like this allow me to illustrate the obvious barriers to doing business internationally,” said Chatham, who coordinated the project with Geoffrey Heel and his postgraduate import-export class at Blaise Pascal.