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Encouraging experience abroad
Firm part of MBA program at Tech
Ferdinal WEB
Ferdinal Winarta, manager of Artagia on McFarland Parkway, is working with Georgia Tech professors for the schools Global Consultancy Project. Through the project, students in the master of business administration program have an opportunity to travel overseas and spend time working on real-world business problems. - photo by Jim Dean

A Forsyth County business is working with Georgia Tech to send students to Indonesia.

Ferdinal Winarta, manager of Artagia, a distributor of high-end Indonesian furniture whose U.S. headquarters is on McFarland Parkway, is working with Georgia Tech professors.

Through the school’s Global Consultancy Project, students in the master of business administration program have an opportunity to travel overseas and spend time working on “real-world” business problems, said James Hoadley, associate director of the Center for International Business Education and Research at the university.

“This program is a 16-week, full three-credit elective that is offered to students and the idea behind the course was to give MBA students real-world business experience,” Hoadley said.

“While most of our students in MBA programs in the United States have done some travel overseas for tourism and things like that, the percentage of them who have actually done business in a foreign country is comparatively low.”

Hoadley said past students in the course have gone to countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Japan and the Czech Republic.

Students spend the first weeks of the semester working on real projects submitted to Georgia Tech professors before heading to the destination country around the middle of the semester.

The students bound for Indonesia will begin their projects in January and visit the country in March.

“Our preference is for U.S.-based companies that are looking to do business in whatever country we’re traveling to,” said Hoadley, noting that the course’s 20 students are typically broken into teams of four to five for the business projects.

Other participating firms may be based in the country of travel with U.S. offices, such as the case with Winarta, whose company will provide one of the projects to the students.

He also is serving as a liaison between Georgia Tech leaders and the businesses in Indonesia.

He said later this month, he will return to his home country with Hoadley to work on “laying the groundwork” for some of the projects.

He’s also acting as a guide. “Ferdinal is my guide to all things Indonesian,” Hoadley said.

Winarta hopes the venture will help not only his company, but will also draw attention for Forsyth County.

“The interesting thing for me is this is not just an opportunity for the students to travel overseas to Indonesia, but it’s also good for the local community, for local companies, to have a chance to have MBA students to do research,” he said.

Hoadley added that any local business interested in participating in this year’s program, or in the future, are always welcome to submit project ideas through the Georgia Tech Web site.

“We need to get the word out more because, at least as far as I’m aware, we’re the only program in the state of Georgia that has a program like this,” he said. “If a business is interested, if Indonesia is not their thing for 2013, if they can wait until 2014, or if they decide later on that they’re interested in participating, they should go ahead and fill out [forms] we have on our Web site to give us a rough idea of what they’re interested in doing.

“We may choose that as our destination, and of course they would be the lead project. That’s kind of what happened with Indonesia.”

Winarta said he’s happy to help.

“For me, it’s a privilege to have the Georgia Tech to trust me to do this kind of a program,” he said.