Smeal APEX Program Features International Collaboration

The latest year of Penn State’s Smeal College of Business’ Applied Educational Experience Program (APEX) offered MBA students the chance to collaborate with international colleagues on a real world project. APEX is a second year capstone experience for MBA students at Smeal, who work in teams of four or five people to advise real world businesses on possible solutions to challenges the businesses face. In Spring 2013, a group of Smeal students worked with  Management Development Institute (MDI) MBAs in India to determine growth opportunities for a multinational company called Sealed Air.

Sealed Air produces several protective products to ensure food safety and security, infection control, and assist with building care. Sealed Air’s headquarters are in New Jersey, but it operates in sixty two countries and has been growing rapidly in India. However, the MBAs from MDI and the Smeal College of Business students believed that Sealed Air could capture a larger market share in India. The Penn State and MDI groups divided work based on location. Smeal students did most of the research using Penn State’s electronic systems, while MDI members performed in-person interviews with people in India.

The Smeal students who were part of the international APEX project group were all interested in emerging markets. One Smeal MBA student used his experience with the international APEX group to apply for (and eventually receive) a position through MBAs Without Borders. This upcoming year, he will be working with a company located in India called SustainTech.

As businesses increasingly become part of a global network, business schools have sought ways to introduce their students to international collaboration in the business world. An international setting presents new challenges for businesses, including working with team members in multiple locations and working with people from unfamiliar cultures. It is tough to explore these challenges and others in a classroom setting, so Smeal is trying to incorporate international experiences into their curriculum.


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