Future business leaders derive crucial knowledge from interacting with companies in an international context. And for Carlson School partners, that learning is often reciprocal: the leaders from global firms learn as much from the students as the students learn from them.

Heraeus sponsors expansion analysis 

Last year, multinational technology firm Heraeus engaged Carlson MBA students enrolled in the Global Business Practicum (GBP) class to evaluate the medical device ecosystem in Costa Rica. The purpose of the project was to determine whether Heraeus should further invest in the country where they had a small manufacturing location. The students investigated the market challenges, the competitive landscape, the related industries in the region, and more.

“Heraeus Medical Components Global Business Unit was looking at expanding our global capacity for manufacturing, and Costa Rica—with its growing medical cluster—was a natural location to investigate,” says Heraeus Executive Vice President, David Ohmann, ’06 MBA. “Engaging the Carlson School not only provided a detailed level of analysis, but also the objectiveness our executive team was looking for.”

Acting as consultants, the students relied on their collective knowledge to develop strategic recommendations for Heraeus. The group included Carlson MBA students and MBA students from INCAE Business School. Their backgrounds spanned finance, strategy, engineering, and other disciplines.

“The team brought an enormous blend of insights that exceeded what a single consultant could have contributed. It was really a cross-functional, cross-industrial, and cross-cultural team, and that diversity of talent, led by Carlson School and INCAE leading faculty, provided the analytical and strategic perspective that we were looking for,” he says.

Four months after the conclusion of the project, Heraeus broke ground for a new manufacturing facility in Cartago, Costa Rica.

A long-time partner of the Carlson Global Institute, Heraeus has repeatedly granted Carlson MBA students studying abroad an inside look at the company, and has engaged students to solve a global business problem once before—the firm sponsored a similar project in China in 2013.

“What the students delivered in China was above any output an outside consultant has brought to us in the past. The Costa Rica project was no different, the outcome exceeded expectations,” says Ohmann. “Based on this consistency from GBP, we would expect to repeat this project again in the future as our global expansion needs continue."

Ecolab explores international dining trends

Last fall, international exchange students studying at the Carlson School provided Ecolab with a fresh perspective on the cultural nuances of cleanliness. Nearly 70 students hailing from 22 countries toured Ecolab’s global headquarters in Saint Paul. They concluded their visit by discussing the ins and outs of dining in their home countries.

“A big part of Ecolab’s institutional business is providing cleaning and sanitation solutions to restaurants and foodservice facilities. Because we have operations in more than 170 countries, we have to understand what customers value in different parts of the world,” says Ecolab Talent Acquisition Manager Jennifer Shofner.

In small groups, the students discussed a typical restaurant experience in distinct regions throughout the world. They presented their overall findings to leaders from Ecolab’s marketing and recruiting teams who found their observations aligned with trends the company had identified.

The visit was an ideal opportunity for Ecolab to interact with exceptional students from across the world who could someday join the company.

“We are the global leader in water, hygiene, and energy solutions and services—any way we can showcase that to future leaders is great. From a recruiting perspective, they may not be candidates that are going to work in our St. Paul office, but maybe they’re going to go back to Shanghai and apply to our jobs there,” says Shofner.

After hosting this visit, Ecolab again partnered with the Carlson School by collaborating on an event highlighting global experiences for undergraduate students during Business Week: a series of recruiting events in which students learn crucial skills and connect with potential employers.