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Business undergrads find social, vocational lessons for life in France trip

Every year Rollins offers a host of study abroad options for students across all majors in over a dozen different nations. This summer the Office of International Programs debuted “Studying High Performance Organizations in France” led by Associate Professor of Business and Social Entrepreneurship Dr. Timothy Pett.

The brand-new program allowed students pursuing a career in business to examine a potential high performance organization in Pau, France, while working with French students at the ESC Pau School of Management.

IMG_6827I chose to participate in this program as it provided me with the opportunity to examine Southern French culture while receiving credit for two courses. Going into the program I was relatively unsure of what to expect; I bought (most) of the required books and knew the dates, but otherwise was unclear about exactly what the program would entail.

Five students and I had the excellent idea of booking the same flight as the instructor, Dr. Pett. We sadly missed our flight into Paris due to delays and touched down at the one terminal airport in Pau approximately 12 hours after the expected arrival date. We were greeted by French Professor Dr. Laurent Sie and one of the French students who helped us with our baggage and drove us to the dorms.

After regrouping we met up with the students who had arrived earlier. In total there were 13 American students and 10 French students. All French students were bilingual, which allowed them to help me improve my French and I their English.

Pau is one of the larger cities in southern France and is an emerging destination for skiing, racing, and enterprise. It has nowhere near the same size or grandeur as Paris, but it makes up for it with beautiful countryside and excellent hospitality. Every person I talked to was friendly and helpful no matter how badly I butchered their native tongue. The food was amazing (Pau is known for its pâté or duck liver) and there was plenty of night life.

The organization we studied was N’PY, a media enterprise that works to make Pyrenees skiing experiences easier and more accessible. Students were divided into five teams comprised of French and American students and each was assigned one of the five factors in the High Performance Organizations (HPO) framework. The first four weeks of the trip were taught by Dr. Pett and consisted of conducting statistical analysis based on surveys to determine what factors N’PY excelled or lagged in. During the last two weeks, we worked with French Professor Laurent Sie to create a presentation which we then gave to three N’PY executives.

On Wednesdays we would have excursions instead of classes, and we took trips to other locations in southern France such as Bordeaux, Biarritz, and the Pyrenees mountains. This was the part of the trip I enjoyed the most, as the excursions provided me with cultural insight and allowed me to develop relationships with the French students.

Over the course of this trip I learned a remarkable amount about French culture, mastered the High Performance Organization framework under the tutelage of Dr. Pett, and created lasting relationships I hope will remain intact for many years. I strongly recommend this program to any business or social entrepreneurship students interested in studying abroad.

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