Jays Down Under: 2017 Australia Travel Course
Jays Down Under: 2017 Australia Travel Course

From the Jesuit Refugee Service to Ingal Civil (a Valmont Industries Company) and CSG International, from the iconic Sydney Opera House to the famed Bondi Beach, Melbourne Park and the Great Ocean Road Tour - Heider business students and faculty explored an eclectic sampling of southeast Australia’s corporate, cultural and geographical offerings in the 2017 Australia travel course.

Come early May, Creighton students are finishing up finals, cleaning out dorm rooms and apartments, and making their way home for summer jobs and internships. But for 12 business students, no sooner had they unpacked a semester’s worth of stuff than they were repacking their suitcases for a two-week trip Down Under. The Heider students headed to Sydney, along with Lee Dunham, Ph.D., CFA, professor of finance, and Ravi Nath, Ph.D., professor of business intelligence and analytics. 

The Australia travel course is sponsored by the Heider College of Business but open to all Creighton students. Travel courses in general offer students a way to “study abroad” and explore life outside the U.S. in an academic setting, but for a shorter period of time than a semester course. This is something that appealed to Senior Bailey Norby a student athlete whose hectic basketball schedule made it difficult for her to take a full semester to study abroad.

“I have had multiple friends who studied abroad and told me that Australia had blown their expectations. The food, the people, the environment and the history make it a great place to visit,” says the finance major from Forest Lake, MN. “My favorite part about travel was being able to see another culture and how their business tactics operate in comparison to ours in the U.S.”

One of the most significant differences, Whitney Aman, a sophomore from Blair, Nebraska discovered, is that human resources within Australian companies are much more regulated compared to U.S. corporations, which are at-will employers, meaning they can dismiss employees without establishing just cause.  In Australia, however, firing a worker is typically an eight-month process including judiciary involvement, with the courts often ruling in the employee’s favor. Thus, to mitigate the chance of employee-position mismatch, the hiring process is lengthier and more involved in Australia.

“It sounds cliché, but I did not have a favorite part of the trip because every day was a new adventure,” says Nik McGannon, an accounting and finance double major from Minnetonka, Minnesota. The free day in Sydney that he and his classmates spent on Bondi Beach; the coastline along the Great Ocean Tour outside Melborne, with its kangaroos and koalas; and visiting the Twelve Apostles, the craggy limestone stacks that emerge from the Southern Ocean were all spectacular for Norby, Aman, and McGannon. “This trip was the most beautiful part of the world I have ever seen,” he attests.

Scenery aside, his favorite corporate visits were to Ingal Civil, with its innovative at-work schooling for employees, the U.S. Consulate, where their discussion focused on efforts to bring more U.S. companies to Australia, and Bloomberg. Here, the class learned how data – massive amounts of data – helps steer business, literally. They were able to track oil shipments worldwide, including where specific ships were located, the amount of oil they were carrying, what their destination companies were, along with many other insights.

How truly global business has become struck home with the group during their corporate visits, where they met with employees from across the world. Being able to adapt to different cultural norms and how they play out in a work environment is essential. Travel courses shed light on this because they “allow students to learn how companies operate, but more importantly, how differently cultures operate,” says McGannon.

Norby concurs: “It is important for Creighton to maintain these programs, especially for business, because many of our U.S. companies have international offices that may function differently than in the U.S. because they have to adapt to their particular culture.”

Culture is an essential component of travel, and the Creighton group soaked up their fair share in Australia. They toured the Barracks Museum, which chronicles Australia’s origins as a penal colony and its subsequent development. They sampled kangaroo skewers (but no mention of Vegemite…) and mingled with locals at markets.

As Norby says, “This course allows us to get out of our comfort zones and explore many opportunities outside Creighton.”