Insightful Company Visits


Learning from top executives and successful expatriates while abroad gave me insights into Asian business culture that I would not have been able to discern as an outsider. The realizations that dawned on me during my trip, from how blessed I am to have the rights I do as an American to the more subtle nuances of working abroad, helped me grow both personally and professionally. During my Southeast Asia seminar in Thailand and Vietnam, our group visited five remarkable companies that have all mastered the art of international business: the American Chamber of Commerce Thailand, Edwards Lifesciences, United States Commercial Services Vietnam, Intel, and Osprey Packs.

AMCHAMOn January 3, 2019, our seminar group traveled to the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Thailand and heard a fascinating lecture by executive director Heidi Gallant. Gallant discussed the economic overview of Thailand and the major role the United States’ foreign direct investments play in the Thai economy. AMCHAM is the primary foreign business association in Thailand, working to promote an encouraging business environment between Thailand and the United States. Gallant gave our group astounding insight into how American companies expand into Thailand. The information I learned at AMCHAM Thailand stuck with me throughout the entire trip, and what I learned there resonated throughout our other company visits.

Edwards Lifesciences is the global market leader in patient-centric medical devices for structural heart disease and critical care surgical monitoring. On January 3, 2019, during our seminar, we visited Edwards Lifesciences’ Bangkok, Thailand office. There we spoke to SE Asia Business Unit Head, Blesson Varghesse, about the implications of international business in the medical device sector. The time we spent at Edwards Lifesciences was eye-opening regarding the amount of work that goes into medical device design, production, and global distribution.

United States Commercial Services (USCS) Vietnam is the trade promotion arm of the United States Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. USCS Vietnam is located in the huge metropolitan city of Ho Chi Minh City and caters to American companies attempting to outsource or expand into Vietnam. On January 7, 2019, our seminar group met with Commercial Service Officer Ryan Hollowell. Mr. Hollowell’s firsthand experience as an expatriate gave our group incredible insight into the U.S. government provided tools and resources American companies have available to them overseas.

On January 7, 2019, our seminar group traveled to Intel Corporation’s Headquarters in Vietnam and spoke with Alan Danner, the Director of Finance at Intel Vietnam. Our seminar group also received an office and factory tour of their impressive facilities led by Public Affairs Officer, Phun. The tour and lecture enlightened us on the endless work that goes into developing and marketing technology-based products, a fact that is amplified when working as an American company in a communist country.

American students visiting Osprey Packs in VietnamOsprey Packs designs and produces a variety of high caliber outdoor products and travel gear. The company was originally founded in 1974 in Cortez, Colorado. Eventually, cheaper labor costs and the promise of an increased consumer base expanded Osprey to Vietnam. On January 8, 2019, our seminar group traveled to Osprey Packs’ headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City and spoke with Michael Henderson, Operations Director at Osprey Packs Vietnam. Our group was lucky enough to not only experience first-hand Osprey’s headquarters where their international marketing, design, and prototyping takes place but also got to visit their production facility at Vision Manufacturing Services. It was a life-changing experience that has forever altered how I view products, their lifecycles and the global supply chains that comprise them. As a Coloradan, seeing a Colorado-based company successfully expand internationally was truly inspiring!

The wisdom I gained from all the experienced executives and expats I spoke to during the trip was incredible and has stuck with me to this day. The extensive business-related itinerary was a characteristic of IBS trips that really drew me in, and the itinerary lived up to expectations. I will never forget the real-world business education I acquired during my IBS Abroad SE Asia Trip!

Valkyrie Buffa

School: University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

During the seminar, I improved my public speaking, communication, and interpersonal skill sets.

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