Students learn about global business, sustainability and ESG during weeklong trip to Trieste

When taking MBA courses in an online world, it can be challenging to build connection with your classmates and professors through a computer screen.

That’s why immersions, particularly international ones, have become a crucial tool in fostering relationships for the MBA@Denver team at the Daniels College of Business. These trips get students out from behind their computers, inviting them to explore the global business landscape and develop lifelong friendships with their classmates.

The most recent iteration of these immersions took students to Trieste, Italy, where they learned about the business of cruise ship building, coffee and wine production and, perhaps most importantly, the rest of their cohort.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with my classmates in Italy! Truly walking away with lifelong friends,” said MBA@Denver student Megan Garcia. “I can confidently say I learned as much from the unique immersion curriculum as I did from my peers.”

The weeklong trip combined two credited courses, led by Daniels faculty member Sid Simonson, for 28 students primarily focused on global sustainability and corporate social responsibility in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy. As a native of Trieste, Federica Bologna, the assistant director of marketing, research and analysis for the MBA Programs at Daniels, spearheaded the trip and gave crucial access to local businesses.

“We were able to see certain areas that would not have been available, because certain businesses don’t speak English. I see that students appreciated that,” she said.

Bologna added that the overarching goal of the program was to teach students how people do business in different parts of the world and how that can be applied to their future opportunities.

During their immersion, students visited with businesses across industries and of various sizes, both in terms of their operation and of what they produce. Given Trieste’s coastal location, students saw the large operation of cruise ship builder Fincantieri along with the delicate creation of glass bead craftsman Momylia in Venice.

They also got behind-the-scenes access to three local coffee companies that contribute to Trieste’s thriving industry, seeing how the product is imported, taken for production and ultimately served to customers. Outside of the classroom, students took part in a cooking class and city tour to learn about the local culture. This diversity of experiences was an important part of the trip, Bologna said.

“We saw businesses of all sizes and across a variety of industries, showing students every step of the supply chain in some major Italian businesses.” she said. “This was all about learning how people do business in different parts of the world and how that can be applied.”

Garcia was blown away by the immersion and the access the group of students was granted.

“The DU team had an incredible week mapped out for us, filled with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” she said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be granted the access we were—from behind the scenes at Fincantieri, to tours of castles, intimate conversations in historical wine cellars to a tour of a private museum worth multi-millions.”

In the future, the online MBA program will host one international trip per year to bring students, faculty and staff together. Kenny Metcalfe, program director of the MBA@Denver program, said these opportunities will remain an important part of this otherwise online program.

“It means a lot and the students that have gone on the immersions, particularly the international ones, have come away with long-lasting relationships besides the academic content,” he said. “It’s also good for us as staff and faculty, because we don’t get to see them either, so we get to have that extra time with them and develop those relationships.”