Orfalea College of Business Students Explore Spain and Morocco

Cal Poly Students in Morocco

Cal Poly’s latest Orfalea International Business Tour took 16 students to Spain and Morocco June 15-27 for an in-depth look at businesses and culture in the region. Marketing faculty member Lisa Simon and Assistant Director of Support Programs & Services Katelyn O’Brien led the cohort as it explored the cities of Casablanca, Marrakech and Barcelona.

The tour adopted the focus of “So Close, Yet So Far: Exploring the contrasting effects of business in Morocco & Spain,” which allowed students to meet experienced leaders in a variety of business sectors, learn about entrepreneurial networks, and survey the economic landscape and industry practices of different regions. Emerging markets and cornerstone industries include tourism, electronics, industrial manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, textile industries, food and beverage, and automotive industries.

Students on a business visit in Morocco

The adventure began with a city tour of Casablanca to take in the city’s culture, food, architecture and Islamic customs. Students also met with business leaders at Pernod Ricard and Imperial Tobacco in Casablanca to explore business development strategies for global brands rooted in Morocco.

In Marrakech, the group explored the city’s winding markets and learned about trends in the hospitality and tourism industries at the Mandarin Oriental resort. The experience made a big impact on students exploring an Islamic culture for the first time.

“This trip was my first time visiting a Muslim country and it was eye-opening to see the reality of what that means and broke down a few generalizations and thoughts I had before the trip,” said student Sam Jones. “The trip made me a more global and culturally aware citizen and made me realize that I can take my career anywhere.”

“It was a pleasure getting to see an Islamic culture that was welcoming and opening and helped shed light on the overly aggressive stigma that is spread towards Muslims,” added Connor Jordan, a fellow student on the tour. “Getting to learn more about the governmental structure and how the international businesses operate within the culture of Morocco was eye-opening and will be carried forward in my future international endeavors, whatever those end up being!”

Student on a camel in Morocco

Once in Barcelona, students met with executives at MediaCom Barcelona to assess effective data-driven marketing strategies in the Spanish market. While at Privalia, an online retailer of fashion and lifestyle products, students also spoke with Chief Product Officer Kiran Thomas and gained insights into e-commerce operations in regional and global markets.

“The business visit with Privalia combined with the city visit of Barcelona really made me believe that I could live and work abroad. Supply chain is something that can and has to be done everywhere in the world and this trip opened my eyes to that,” added Sam Jones.

The final business visit took students to #HomelessEntrepreneur, which empowers struggling adults to start their own business ventures. The group met with President and Founder Andrew Funk to discuss the organization’s mission and vision. Several entrepreneurs shared their stories and business plans with the group as well.

A key feature of the tour was the opportunity to contrast business in northern Africa and western Europe. Students enjoyed an interactive, up-close look at professional life in these dynamic and diverse environments.

Students take a city tour in Spain

“This was my first time traveling out of the country, and, after being home for less than two weeks, I already want to go back and explore new places,” said student Kayla Wells. “I also now want to do an internship abroad after talking the meeting with Privalia and his amazing international experience. After meeting people from so many different countries who spoke English so well, it has inspired me to make it a goal to learn two more languages.”

“Getting to meet new people, trying different foods, and sharing memories with all of the students on trip was a blast. Experiencing Spain has pushed me even more to travel and to heavily consider an international career,” added Connor Jordan.

Orfalea International Business Tours have become a major part of the college’s career readiness initiatives, which aims to prepare professionals to lead in a global economy. The tours empower as many students as possible to have an international experience before graduation. Other tours have ventured to New Zealand, Cuba, China, Vietnam, Germany and Brazil.

The program was made possible through Orfalea Travel Grants that provided each student $1,000 to offset travel and lodging costs. Travel grants are made possible thanks to generous donor support to the Orfalea College of Business and its Dean’s Excellence Fund. For more information on supporting a future Orfalea International Business Tour, visit https://www.cob.calpoly.edu/giving-to-the-orfalea-college/.

Top 5 Reasons to Apply to the Orfalea College of Business


High school seniors around the nation are beginning to contemplate where they want to attend college. So why, they may ask, should they choose Orfalea College of Business in San Luis Obispo? While Orfalea has been ranked among the nation’s best business schools, the college is more than just a number. If you’re considering earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, economics or industrial technology and packaging on the West coast, consider these top five reasons to apply to Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business:

#5 Comprehensive Student Support
From acceptance through graduation, Orfalea’s Student Services offer comprehensive support to strengthen personal, academic, and career success. Students have direct — and free — access to Peer Advising to help with academic progress, Peer Mentoring to help students grow personally, Tutoring in tough classes, leadership opportunities, and career-readiness advising to help students build confidence throughout the hiring process. The college’s Student Services Center also provides quarterly workshops on professional skills, networking events with alumni, and campus-wide resources for you to constantly stay connected. The college’s support network and peer advising model is credited with boosting graduation rates by 10 percent; now 87 percent of Orfalea students graduate within five years — the highest rate at Cal Poly.

#4 Endless Opportunities For Studying Abroad
Orfalea students have an expansive list of options available to them to embrace an international perspective on business. With more than 200 programs in 75 countries, and with options to go abroad for spring break up to a year long, Orfalea students have the opportunity to globalize their college experience and adapt to new cultures. Business, econ and industrial technology/packaging students also have exclusive access to Orfalea International Business Tours: trips led by faculty to business hubs that immerse students in the region’s economic atmosphere in places like Vietnam, China, Cuba, Costa Rica and New Zealand. These tours last 10-14 days over academic breaks, making them a great option for students who don’t have time to study abroad. Worried about financing your study abroad experience? Orfalea’s got you covered. With the Orfalea Travel Grant, students often receive financial support from the college to travel.

#3 Personalized Experience With Expert Faculty
Orfalea College of Business students have direct access to seasoned faculty who have years of experience in their industry. Cal Poly’s student-faculty ratio is 19:1, with 15.6 percent of classes having fewer than 20 students and 71.35 percent having 20-49 students. Unlike many large universities where student interact with a teacher’s assistants only, Orfalea students have the opportunity to know their professors on a personal level, where they can ask questions, participate in discussions, or even contribute to their research. This is excellent outside the classroom, as well, as students benefit from the professor’s industry connections and insights on where their disciplines are headed.

#2 High Return On Investment
College isn’t cheap, and many potential students are concerned about cost of tuition and potential debt. However, students at Orfalea know that their education comes at a relatively low cost compared to UC or private schools. Orfalea grads also see an excellent return on investment, meaning you’ll earn back the money invested in tuition quickly after graduation. That’s why Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Orfalea No. 5 in the nation for ROI among undergraduate business schools in 2014. And according to Payscale.com, the average in-state Orfalea graduate’s 20-year lifetime earnings are 18 times larger than the total cost of four-year tuition. Moreover, Orfalea students are in high demand with employers following their education. In fact, 90.6% of undergraduates at Orfalea are employed at graduation, and many of those students already have their jobs set into place at the beginning of their senior years. Many of Orfalea’s programs, like accounting and information systems, boast 100 percent placement rates and substantial salaries for all graduating seniors.

#1 Learn By Doing
At Orfalea College of Business, the Learn by Doing motto drives coursework to include hands-on experience that gives students the opportunity to gain practical skills and confidence. For example, finance students can participate in the Student Managed Portfolio Project, where they can manage nearly half a million dollars of Cal Poly Corporation funds within the stock market. Entrepreneurship students have the chance to collaborate with engineers to develop and launch a brand new product through the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Accounting students gain experience in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, helping locals resolve significant tax burdens with the IRS and Franchise Tax Board. The Learn by Doing motto not only helps students gain firsthand experience, but it also gives Orfalea students a leg-up when applying for jobs. Industries value graduates who can bring technical expertise and know-how to the job before they’ve even started, and Orfalea prepares students to stand out and to add value at their companies on Day One.

Cal Poly’s undergraduate applications are open Oct. 1- Nov. 30. Remember, Cal Poly requires you to apply to a specific major, so take this time to explore the Orfalea College of Business academic programs via our website: https://www.cob.calpoly.edu/. The college features majors in business administration, economics and industrial technology and packaging. The college offers specific concentrations within those majors, as well as minors, to complement your education.

While you’re at it, get to know Cal Poly’s selection criteria, the admissions timelines and details on the CSU Apply website.

Looking to get to know campus even better? Come to San Luis Obispo for a tour of the Orfalea College of Business. You’ll get to know one of America’s happiest cities and hear specifics about the college from one of our knowledgeable student leaders.

Apply now via CSU Apply before the deadline closes: http://admissions.calpoly.edu/applicants/freshman/.