Photo by Susan Cox, School of Business faculty

MBA and undergraduate students at Fresno Pacific University had an intellectually stimulating experience during a trip to California’s Silicon Valley February 5, 2016.

The first stop was Mozilla Headquarters in Mountain View. Michelle Marovich, head of recruiting, graciously gave us insight into the company and its mission. Her passion and transparency were inspirational. Alex Hussain, undergraduate student, claimed that he loved “observing the team culture within Mozilla.” Colton Taylor, another undergraduate student, described the experience as “fascinating” and said he got a “real-life picture of how a company was intrinsically motivated to serve customers, empower their choices and provide them with an awesome Internet experience.”

The Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto was also very educational. The Nordic Innovation House is meant to help Nordic entrepreneurs by giving them access to the U.S. community of technology partners, investors and service providers. The organization wants to help kick-start Nordic businesses. It was particularly appealing to students with a passion for relations between foreign entrepreneurs and the U.S. market.

Risto Lahdesmaki, co-founder and CEO/president of Idean, Inc., also in Palo Alto, made his presentation enlightening as well as entertaining. His sense of humor, success story and intelligence kept students engaged. He inspired one student to believe that “There are many innovative ideas and it is worth it to give them a try and test them out.” Lahdesmaki had a dream and he did not let any obstacle to deter him from accomplishing it. Avni Patel from the MBA program stated that listening to him was a “fun learning experience and gave me more knowledge for a techy-business perspective!”

The study trip concluded at Stanford University, under the hospitality of faculty member David Evans. He provided what the students considered to be the best highlight of the trip. Viridiana Trujillo, a communications major, happily expressed that “Professor Evans was incredibly inspirational, empowering and enlightening. He shared knowledge that every college student should hear.” Many loved the concept of being “designers of careers.” Harparas Gajjar, MBA student, claimed that “The speaker was very welcoming and interactive with the group.” His exercise was the cherry on top of the Sundae that allowed students to recognize when they “get stuck” and how to get out of that mental block.

The study trip was an experience that is not likely to be forgotten. The MBA students enjoyed the trip, while the undergraduates were especially grateful for their invitation. The entire experience was valuable for both groups.