When international student Anna Semenova came to the United States 12 years ago, she experienced what she calls “major culture shock.” Originally from Ukraine, Anna noticed differences in everything from food to communication styles to public transportation. “No amount of preparation and workshops can truly prepare you for such major culture differences,” said Anna, noting differences in areas such as technology availability and usage in classroom or the number of major political parties (in Ukraine, there are roughly 30 major parties compared to two in the United States).
One of Anna’s favorite memories as an Anderson University MBA student was developing a business plan with a small team of students. By the end of the semester, each member of the team was putting in 15-20 hours of research and writing each week, but Anna and her team won an $11,000 prize for their plan. “The writing of a business plan was a saga of its own,” said Anna. “Winning the competition was the highlight of my time in the MBA program.”
As an Anderson University MBA student, Anna offered her peers unique insight into cultural differences of conducting business outside of the United States.
“Having lived in a communist and then an economically-challenged country, I know corruption and bureaucracy firsthand,” said Anna. “It is very important to keep an open mind, and to know the political and social aspects of the country you intend to conduct business in.”
For example, Anna cites bribery as an acceptable business expense in many developing countries. “In the Western world, such an ‘expense’ would create considerable ethical and accounting issues,” said Anna.
Anna has also witnessed the differences in local legislation on the landscape of business. In the early 1990s, when Ukraine separated from the Soviet Union, import laws waived import tax for defective products. A company could then, theoretically, import left shoes in one shipment, import right shoes in the next and ultimately evade the tax.
When Anna graduated on May 7, her mother, who lives in Ukraine, watched the ceremony via Anderson University’s webcast. “Currently I am still in awe of all the technological advances and social media revolution taking place,” said Anna.
Anna is considering using her MBA in China or Southeast Asia, as she pursues employment opportunities abroad.