Class Profile: Professor applies work experience to classroom setting, lessons on international business

International business and marketing professor Michele Volza’s passion for international business is clear from his experiences prior to academia, and he shows it in his international business class.

Before becoming a professor at Geneseo, Volza worked as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for 25 years at Mele & Co., a jewelry box company. 

“Becoming an international business professor was a pretty easy transition for me. It is what I did for most of my career,” Volza said. “I traveled back and forth from Asia for 25 years; my whole background consists of how to produce goods in Asia, bring them into the United States and then sell the goods to all the large department stores in the United States.”

Volza finds that recalling his past experiences engages students in his class. While working for Mele & Co., he visited China regularly. In class, he tells business stories and displays numerous pictures to illustrate his business dealings. 

“In my international business class, I show pictures of how the product is loaded into containers. The containers are then transported onto a ship,” Volza said. “The images presented show how the containers come directly from China, through the Panama Canal, up the East Coast and finally to Newark, New Jersey, where the goods are then loaded and delivered to the Mele & Co. warehouse.”

Volza wants to ensure that his students get a feel for what a career in international business would entail after college. To accomplish this, he assigns two projects to be completed throughout the semester. 

“In my class, two group presentations have to be made. The first presentation is made on a service that the group would theoretically bring into a foreign country. The second presentation is for a product the group would bring into a foreign country,” Volza said. “Questions that need to be resolved are: how would the group bring it in? Would they import it? Would they franchise or license the product?  In general, how would they bring that product into a foreign country?

Business administration major junior Erin Travers took International Business in the fall of 2018, and she found the projects to be useful for her future career in business. 

“My favorite part of the class was how much freedom we were given within our team projects. We were able to use our own creativity to come up with a product/service which we pitched to a potential investor in trying to globally expand our company,” Travers said. “I believe these projects are vital in receiving a thorough understanding of how international business works.” 

Volza is able to apply his first-hand career experience in a classroom setting, giving his students the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a career in international business.