MBA Cohort Travels to India as International Consultants

Each year, students in the One-Year MBA Program travel to a global business capital to learn about its culture and industries. In April 2019, our MBAs visited Mumbai, India for their international immersion! Below, MBA candidate Kelly Nelson shared her five favorite experiences from this trip.

  1. Tour of Reliance Industries

To start off the trip, our class had the privilege of visiting Reliance Industries, India’s largest publicly traded company. With major subsidiaries in polymers, petroleum, retail and telecommunications, Reliance has played a key role in shaping the Indian economy. The company was founded as a textile business in 1960 by a schoolteacher’s son with an unwavering entrepreneurial spirit — a rags-to-riches story in which the company’s leadership takes great pride.

Photo by Dr. Troy Hall

After seeing the concrete jungle and cramped conditions that make up most of Mumbai, it surprised me that Reliance Industries’ headquarters mirrored a campus like you might see in Silicon Valley, with many modern buildings spread across acres of green lawns. We visited the showroom of the company’s telecommunications subsidiary, Jio, where we saw demonstrations of their mobile phone and smart home products. We learned that Jio had launched in 2016 and gained 16 million subscribers in India in its first month — the fastest ramp-up by a mobile network operator anywhere in the world. It was clear that through brands like Jio, Reliance makes a huge impact on Indians’ way of life.

During our sightseeing tour earlier in the day, we got a glimpse of the home of Reliance Industries’ current chairman, the founder’s son Mukesh Ambani. Known as Antilia, it is the world’s most valuable private residence, valued at $2 billion. The 27-story home includes three helipads, a ballroom, movie theater, a gym, and a floor with man-made snow for beating the oppressive Mumbai heat! Towering over the other buildings in its neighborhood with its staggered stories, the house was a reminder of the incredible wealth disparity that can be found in Mumbai.

  1. Visit to Santacruz Market

After one of our daytime tours, I piled into an auto rickshaw (a small three-wheeled vehicle that served as a taxi) with three of my classmates in search of street vendors. We found them in the suburb of Santacruz, selling jewelry, flowers, bells, fabric, produce and more. As Americans, we drew plenty of attention from the merchants as we trekked through the aisles of clothes, food and knickknacks.

Photo by James Alderman ’19

We learned early on that prices of nearly everything in Mumbai were negotiable —especially anything purchased in an outdoor market. Fortunately, I was accompanied by my classmate Osheen, who is from India. I wasn’t confident in my bartering skills, but Osheen was happy to negotiate on my behalf to help me get the best price on my treasures. I left with a jewelry set for myself and a richly embellished green dress for a friend back home. Visiting the market and seeing the colorful and varied items for sale was an exciting adventure!

  1. Consulting Project for I was a Sari

Since the beginning of the semester, my classmates and I had been working on consulting projects for real businesses in Mumbai to help them find solutions to their most pressing challenges. My group had been assigned to the business I was a Sari, a small clothing manufacturer that recycled Indian saris into clothing and accessories for western markets. I was a Sari’s managers were interested in learning more about the United States market for their products, so they requested that we analyze the U.S. sustainable fashion market and develop an entry strategy for their brand into the states.

My group was eager to share our recommendations with the staff of I was a Sari. However, we had to make some last-minute adjustments, because we learned the day before our presentation that we would be presenting in I was a Sari’s small factory room and would not be able to use our prepared slide deck! We rapidly changed course and created handouts instead, which we printed in the hotel’s business center. This was reflective of many of our experiences in India — circumstances were unpredictable, and a sense of adaptability served us well.

Photo by James Alderman ’19

Visiting I was a Sari’s office and factory was enlightening. As we presented, women were milling through bags of saris recently purchased at the secondhand market, searching for fabric of the best quality and patterns to turn into robes, headbands, necklaces and more. We laid our materials out on the fabric cutting table and had a productive discussion with the marketing manager of I was a Sari, who took genuine interest in our ideas for selling in the U.S. This was a great opportunity for us to get to know actual businesspeople in Mumbai and to understand their challenges and priorities.

  1. Tour of Bollywood Film Studio

Before my visit to Mumbai, I had heard of Bollywood, but I had no idea how prolific its movie studios were, or how much Indian people love these movies! Bollywood produces more than 350 films per year and has an annual economic impact of more than $2 billion (USD) on the Indian economy. Our class toured SJ Studios to learn more about this fascinating segment of the film industry.

Bollywood movies are different than other films because they mix elements of action, comedy, drama and romance and also include elaborate musical numbers, often filmed in picturesque locations. The movies feature glamorous, larger-than-life scenes and stories. They may seem a bit cheesy compared to the films we are accustomed to, but they are extremely popular with the Indian population. In fact, more movie tickets are sold in India every year than in any other country.

Photo by James Alderman ’19

We started our experience with a demonstration of Bollywood dancing followed by a choreography lesson of our own. We then proceeded to visit the sound dubbing studio, the costume gallery, and a theater where we watched a demo of the studio’s CGI and special effects. Finally, we toured premade sets that were built to look like a jail, a courthouse, a hospital and other common settings in Bollywood films. Filmmakers rent these sets and use lighting and props to customize them for each film. We even saw a scene being filmed for an upcoming movie!

  1. Dharavi Slum Tour

When I first learned that we would be touring a slum, I admit that I felt uncomfortable with our class of American graduate students, privileged to be able to travel the world, gawking at a community of people living in extreme poverty. However, I changed my mind when I discovered that our tour company, Reality Tours and Travel, led this tour to show visitors that Dharavi is a thriving community where people live, work, play and raise families. Furthermore, the tour guides themselves live in Dharavi, and the company donates profits from its tours back to education centers there.

The tour took us through narrow alleyways surrounded by makeshift buildings made of corrugated metal sheets and plastic tarps. We peered into the one-room homes and businesses of Dharavi’s residents. Despite the destitute outward appearance of the shacks, the interiors often included colorful décor and were organized to accommodate a family’s daily activities. Many Dharavi inhabitants work in the community’s thriving informal economy, valued at $665 million (USD). The industries found there include leather tanning, recycling, pottery making, embroidery and baking.

Photo by Alyssa Stano ’19

While on the tour, we came across a wedding celebration and were invited to join in the dancing! The bride applied turmeric, a symbol of blessing and radiance in Indian wedding festivities, to the faces and hands of the students in our group. This was a really special experience to witness, and it drove home an important point: joy, laughter and happiness are a common experience for all of us, regardless of where and how we live.

Have MBA Will Travel: CofC Grad Lands International Dream Job with Amazon

Starting a job in a new city can be intimidating. There is a lot to learn and quite a bit of mystery around what to expect. But when College of Charleston MBA alumna Ashley Marshall ’16 was given the opportunity to move halfway across the globe for her career, she was ready for the challenge — not to mention, über excited.

After graduating from the MBA program with a focus in marketing, Marshall landed a job as a consultant for project management firm [bu:st], LLC. Her first client: a major automotive equipment manufacturer in Munich, Germany. Marshall was responsible for aiding the company in a future product launch, which led to the opportunity for her to be onsite, so she packed her bags for Deutschland.

Marshall says she always dreamed of a career that enabled her to travel the world and relied on her past experiences living and studying abroad to ease the transition from South Carolina to Germany. Little did she know, this was more than a relocation, it was the beginning of an exciting international career.

After nearly three years, Marshall left [bu:st], remaining in Munich to work as a brand specialist for e-commerce giant Amazon. She describes Amazon EU as an innovative, top-brand company that has provided her with life-changing professional opportunities.

She also praises the company for its culture. “The international environment is amazing,” Marshall says. “I have the ability to work with people from around the world with an array of backgrounds and knowledge. Amazon has a unique culture of bringing people together, and it is a truly cool force to be a part of.”

Just as Amazon is a multi-faceted enterprise, Marshall’s job is no exception. In her day-to-day function as brand specialist, she uses the marketing, finance and supply chain skills she honed in the MBA program to grow the brands she works with.

In addition to her academic background, Marshall attributes her success to taking risks and lacking fear. She says it’s important to, “use your knowledge, confidence and, most importantly, ability to connect with others to get to where you want to be.”

Suffice it to say, “nein” is not in her vocabulary.

The School of Business Welcomes President-elect Andrew T. Hsu to Campus

Faculty, staff and students at the College of Charleston School of Business welcomed the College’s new president, Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D., to campus on March 1, 2019.

The Board of Trustees named Hsu the 23rd president on Nov. 28, 2018.

President Hsu was born in China and completed his undergraduate degree at Tsinghua University, a major research university in Beijing. After earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech, he worked in the private sector at Sverdrup Technology (a NASA contractor) and Rolls-Royce North America in Indianapolis. He then entered academia as a director of the aerospace program at the University of Miami.

As he continued his work in higher education, President Hsu held positions at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University, Wright State University and San Jose State University. Prior to becoming the College’s president, he served as the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Toledo.

Check out our video welcome below!

Founder of PureCars to Speak at the College of Charleston School of Business

Make Your Mark Speaker Series Spring 2019 Flyer
Headshot of Jeremy Anspach

Jeremy Anspach, Founder and Chair, PureCars

The College of Charleston School of Business Department of Marketing will host founder and executive chairman of PureCars, Jeremy Anspach, for the Make Your Mark Speaker Series on March 6, 2019.

Anspach, a Detroit native and automotive-marketing pioneer, founded PureCars in 2007 after recognizing the impacts the digital age was having on consumer behavior.

PureCars is a leading marketing automation and business intelligence technology company that helps dealers sell more cars. The company has won numerous awards including best search engine marketing provider, best place to work, fastest-growing company in South Carolina and Inc. 5000’s single fastest-growing automotive company.

The digital marketing guru’s drive and passion led PureCars to become one of only seven automotive Google Premier Partners, powering digital marketing for more than 3,000 dealers across the country. In 2015, Anspach led the PureCars team to a successful acquisition by Raycom Media, one of the largest broadcast companies in the country.

Esta Shah, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing and series coordinator, says the School of Business is looking forward to hosting the digital marketing visionary.

“Mr. Anspach understood the growing impact of digital marketing on consumers well before his peers and was able to convert that insight into a transformative business in the automotive industry. We hope local business professionals and friends of the College will join our students for this engaging and enlightening lecture on the power of digital marketing in the modern age.”

This event is free and open to the public and will begin with a networking mixer at 6 p.m. in the Tate Gallery on the second floor of the business school. Following the mixer, Anspach will speak at 7 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Auditorium in the Beatty Center of the School of Business, located at 5 Liberty Street.

About the Make Your Mark Speaker Series

The Make Your Mark Speaker Series hosted by the School of Business Department of Marketing showcases prominent marketing experts. These thought leaders come to the School of Business prepared to share their stories, experience and advice with young marketing students and local marketing professionals. Each event kicks off with a networking reception and follows with a formal presentation by an industry professional.

About the College of Charleston School of Business

The College of Charleston School of Business has more than 3,000 students enrolled in ready-to-work programs including nine undergraduate majors, 10 minors and six concentration areas, an Honors Program in Business, and master’s programs in business and accountancy. The School of Business is recognized among the top 30 colleges for studying business abroad by the Business Research Guide. It has several Centers of Excellence and initiatives that support specific industries, conduct research and help to strengthen ties with the global business community. The Centers and initiatives also advance the educational experience and understanding of business students in a variety of specialty areas, including real estate, entrepreneurship, global business, economics and tourism.

For Country and Career: Service Members Share Their MBA Experiences

It’s hard to top the combination of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and military experience. An individual with both has a competitive advantage, not only in the strength of their resume but also in the depth of their leadership skills. The College of Charleston School of Business is proud to support members of the armed forces to achieve their career goals.

We sat down with Alfred Phillips ’19, an Army veteran and MBA candidate focusing in finance, as well as Peter Burns ’15, an MBA graduate and active-duty member of the Air Force, to hear more about their journeys through the MBA and military service.

Phillips (pictured left), a current student, brings a unique sense of wisdom to his MBA class. After earning his undergraduate degree in biopsychology from Wagner College, he joined the U.S. Army as an automated logistical specialist. While serving, he completed rigorous training at Officer Candidate School and attained the rank of second lieutenant.

Phillips’ decision to pursue an MBA at the College of Charleston School of Business was motivated by the School’s acclaimed mentorship program in which students are matched with a top-level executive in their desired industry. To help him learn about the world of banking, Phillips was paired with mentor Michael Barnes, a senior business advisor at the BB&T Leadership Institute. The two meet biweekly to discuss everything from career advice to family life. “He’s a really funny guy and very honest,” Phillips says. “When you have someone helping you through the process and providing guidance, it’s a lot easier.”

The MBA program has helped Phillips expand the skill set he built in the Army. Since starting graduate school, he has learned a lot about networking, public speaking and teamwork. He especially likes the knowledge that comes from bringing together students with diverse backgrounds in the classroom. “People’s opinions are valued, which is refreshing coming from the military,” he says. “When you’re just taking orders, you don’t do your work wholeheartedly. But when everyone has input, they’re more likely to work harder.”

Burns (pictured right), on the other hand, joined the military after earning his MBA. He capitalized on the lessons he learned in the College of Charleston School of Business to succeed as a first lieutenant in the Air Force. When he began his graduate studies, he was just 22 years old, but knew he wanted to build a practical skill set to complement his liberal arts background. “Having no prior education in business, I was in search of a liberal arts-friendly program that would get me up to speed,” says Burns.

The lessons Burns learned in organizational management and leadership helped him from day one in the military. He also benefited from completing an internship with the U.S. Department of State, which rounded out his resume with a valuable mix of private and government experience.

Burns recalls discussing his goal of becoming an Air Force pilot with his mentor, who pushed him to follow his dream. Now he is the pilot of a V-22 Osprey, an aircraft that blends the vertical flight capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of an airplane. “My biggest accomplishment was earning my ‘wings,’ which consisted of 1.5 years of flight training in three different aircraft,” Burns says. “My MBA mentor was certainly instrumental in making it happen.”

The College of Charleston welcomes military members and veterans to explore our one-year, full-time MBA program. As an affordable program that is nationally renowned for placing graduates in great jobs, the CofC MBA is an ideal fit for many service members. To learn more or schedule a visit, visit

Wall Street Journal Features School of Business Real Estate Research


Wyman and Mothorpe

Chris Mothorpe, professor of economics at the College of Charleston School of Business recently spoke with The Wall Street Journal about research he and David Wyman, professor of entrepreneurship, published in the Journal of Real Estate Research. In the study, Wyman and Mothorpe found that empty lots located next to power lines sell for 45 percent less than equivalent non-adjacent lots. Read the full story.

Wyman has been with the School of Business since 2013 and also serves as director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. His research interests include real estate and entrepreneurship. Wyman’s work has been published in top peer-reviewed journals including International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, The Appraisal Journal and the Journal of Property Investment and Finance.

Mothorpe has been teaching at the School of Business since 2014. His research interests include urban, regional and environmental economics as well as applied microeconomics. His past research has been published in Real Estate Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics and The Annals of Regional Science. Mothorpe currently teaches urban economics and microeconomics at the business school.