Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 5, 2013

Students get taste of Turkey

IU Kokomo MBA students witness protest, business operations abroad.

(Continued)

Student Steve Vas said he was glad he got to see it.

“It became a protest about protecting the separation between church and state,” Vas said. “They are defending their democracy. It was kind of exciting to witness it in person.”

The protests broke out in the final days of the IU Kokomo trip. For five days before that, students toured nearly a dozen American- and Turkish-owned businesses.

“This was not a vacation,” Ficht said. “I ran them ragged.”

Ficht set up all of the tours herself by networking with people all over.

They toured the textile company Zorlu. Students witnessed the entire business cycle from production to distribution to retail.

Students watched people weaving the fabric and painting details on sheets and pillowcases. They also got to see designs for the new retail stores. Those designs haven’t been unveiled yet.

“It’s top secret,” she said. “We couldn’t even take pictures.”

They also toured the Starbucks in Turkey and learned how a coffee shop operates there.

It took Ficht two months to set up that tour. She called and emailed people all over the world for more than a month. Finally, someone in Turkey saw the email and called her. Two days later, the tour was set up.

She really wanted students to learn about how Starbucks works over there.

“How do they position themselves in a tea-drinking culture?” she wondered aloud.

Ficht said very few master of business administration programs take immersive trips to Turkey. Often, programs opt to go to places like China instead.

Her students were among the first to tour businesses and speak to top executives in Turkey.

Student Gabby VanAlstine thought it was a good choice. She said Turkey is quickly becoming a global force economically. Its trade is increasing significantly.

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