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The following is a joint release issued by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business and Mercury Marine on April 11:

(UW Oshkosh, April 11) Business students from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will present recommendations to Mercury Marine on certain business projects, but not before a team representing the campus and corporate partners visits operations on the other side of the world.

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, 15 UW Oshkosh MBA students will join a delegation from Mercury Marine in mid-May as they set out for China and Korea. The team will visit multiple manufacturing operations, suppliers and other industries in both countries, with the students serving as business manufacturing and supply-chain consultants. The students will advise Mercury leaders on transportation and Foreign Trade Zone issues examined as part of their MBA program requirements.

While the pilot program supplies the $2 billion division of Brunswick Corporation with fresh insight from some of UW Oshkosh’s brightest College of Business students, it simultaneously provides the students a high-impact, global-citizenship learning experience and opportunity for first-hand international business cultural exchange. The dynamic partnership is a precursor to the launch of UW Oshkosh’s new Executive MBA program in January 2013.

“We are thrilled that this innovative business expedition could be done with Mercury Marine, a storied and vital New North company with strong Wisconsin-based and international business operations,” said UW Oshkosh College of Business Dean William Tallon. “This pilot expedition will serve as a model for future expeditions — high-impact, collaborative, international journeys that will propel our partner companies while enriching the educational, global-citizenship and business-leadership experiences of our students.”

“Mercury Marine, through its multiple internship programs, has enjoyed a long and productive relationship with UW Oshkosh,” said Mark Schwabero, president of Mercury Marine. “This initiative will push further the boundaries of our collaboration to benefit both of our organizations. It is another great opportunity for Mercury Marine to work with progressive institutions such as UW Oshkosh and to benefit the community by sharing our global expertise.”

April 21 preparations, guest speakers at Sage Hall

UW Oshkosh MBA Program Director Kathleen Hagens said students applied to participate in the study-abroad trip, which is scheduled to begin Friday, May 18, and run through Sunday, May 27.

Preparation for the expedition begins in earnest on Saturday, April 21, when UW Oshkosh’s College of Business and Mercury Marine co-host a lead-up briefing and networking day on campus. The day’s events will also feature a presentation by Siva Yam, president of the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce.

Yam’s talk on the evolving business culture and climate in China is part of the Spring 2012 MBA Professional Development Seminar Series. It will take place in UW Oshkosh’s Sage Hall at 1 p.m. and is free and open to the public. College of Business administrators and faculty are encouraging regional and state entrepreneurs, business owners and executives from companies large and small to take part in the April 21 forum.

“Having a business executive of Siva Yam’s caliber come to UW Oshkosh will better prepare our team for the business culture they will immerse themselves in during the expedition,” Hagens said. “It will also give people in the local, regional and state business community an incredible opportunity to join us and learn about western and Chinese business relations from an international leader and expert on the topic.”

The April 21 Professional Development Seminar lineup also features Schreiber Foods Chief Talent Officer Tony Herrera speaking on “Courageous Conversations.” Herrera will share techniques for having difficult, yet effective, conversations with individuals in the workplace, including managers, team members, business partners and suppliers. Admission to Herrera’s talk is $50 for community members and UW Oshkosh alumni, with current MBA students’ participation covered through tuition and fees.

The Asian business expedition

Departing from Wisconsin on May 18, the first leg of the UW Oshkosh-Mercury Marine study-abroad program has the student-and-sponsor team visiting and touring company operations in Suzhou, China, and suppliers in two additional cities. The group will also tour GE Aviation and Caterpillar operations in the Suzhou Industrial Park.

On May 24, the team departs for Korea, where members will spend a few days visiting Mercury Marine suppliers in three cities.

The team begins its return journey home to Wisconsin on May 27.

“Expectations are that academic studies and reports resulting from this busy schedule – which includes visitations with current suppliers and benchmarking companies – will help us align our global sourcing strategies,” said Stephan Cloutier, vice president of Mercury Marine procurement. “It’s important for Mercury Marine to continuously re-evaluate its sourcing direction in these constantly evolving market conditions.”

Hagens said the pilot program is partly a response to recent surveys of regional company executives who told the College of Business they would like to see more master’s graduates with some international business experience on their resumes. Currently, the study-abroad program is an elective one, but Hagens said it could segue into an “international component” of the College of Business’s planned Executive MBA program.

“On average, our MBA students have seven to eight years of business experience upon entering the program,” she said. “By pioneering and supporting this study-abroad program with Mercury Marine, and working with additional companies to develop future, collaborative expeditions, we will guarantee UW Oshkosh Executive MBA students graduate with at least one incredibly rich international business experience in their educational portfolios.”

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