The guest blogger today is Tanya Sickels, a current MBA student at Michigan Tech. Tanya says:
In January, four MBA students including myself participated in Michigan Tech’s chapter of the American Marketing Association three-day marketing trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The trip included plant tours of Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations on Capitol Drive, Allen Edmonds Shoe Company in Port Washington, Bucyrus International Corporation in South Milwaukee, and Kohler’s small engine plant in Kohler, Wisconsin. Each destination included a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the factory floor demonstrating daily operations, as well as finance and marketing presentations by company executives. The company tours and presentations combined technical aspects of manufacturing along with a discussion of tough business decisions that must be made in an uncertain economy. We were given the opportunity to ask questions and interact with business professionals in order to get a better feel for the various ways business is conducted.
Some of the businesses we visited were in the process of laying off employees or implementing rotating plant shutdowns. It was a hard example of the tough decisions that the executives were discussing with us. Harley-Davidson emphasized their culture, which was very casual, and said they carefully hire in order to match it. Allen Edmunds’ culture was completely opposite, but their philosophy was the same. At Bucyrus, they depend on one order to stay in operation for one or two years. They talked to us about how mining was changing, and how that effected their business, reminding me of how important it is for businesses to be aware of their environment. I was impressed with the confidence and commitment of the professionals who spoke to us. I learned that in order to be successful, I need to not just have a talent for my job, but also a passion.
The trip wasn’t all business, however.During free time, we explored Milwaukee and experienced the city’s night life. There is lots to see and do: museums, botantical gardens, the waterfront, a zoo. The trip also provided an excellent opportunity for us to interact and get to know one another on a personal basis outside of the classroom.