After the first excursion to Italy and Slovenia on May 11th the group of 27 highly motivated students of the course “Doing Business in CEE/SEE” was looking forward to their second trip from May 30th to June 1st, 2016. The students were hosted at four companies, located in the Austrian federal states of Salzburg and Styria. The firms chosen this year were the SPAR headquarters and BMW CEE in Salzburg, AHT Cooling Systems in Rottenmann/Styria and the STYRIA Media Group AG in Graz.
On the first day of the excursion the group left early from CUAS for their first appointment with Mr. Rudolf Staudinger, CEO of International Business & Management Board Member at the retail company SPAR in Salzburg. In a lively discussion, Mr. Staudinger and Mrs. Berkmann, Head of Communications at SPAR, eagerly replied to the student’s questions about SPAR’s strategy and operations in both Austria and international markets.
The group then visited BMW Group, also located in the city of Salzburg. The students were awaited by Mr. Christoph von Tschirschnitz, President of BMW Group Central and Southeastern Europe. A short presentation on the strategies and experiences in Southeast- and Eastern European markets gave the students an idea about the challenges and opportunities that arise within this foreign market. Again, a lot of questions were answered in a very intense discussion.
Satisfied by all the impressions and informative discussions, but still hungry, the group had lunch in the picturesque village of Fuschl am See, located in the marvelous Salzkammergut region. The journey then continued to Hallstatt in Upper Austria, where the students met Mr.Othmar Wutscher, partner of the ATLAS INTERIM management consultancy firm and experienced top manager in many parts of the world, for a guided tour. The village of Hallstatt was announced as a UNESCO world heritage site and is known for its beauty by millions of tourists who make their way into the placid village in Salzkammergut each year. The evening program was also very exciting. Mr. Wutscher organized dinner and a thorn shooting competition on the Blaa mountain pasture near the Loser mountain.
On the second day of the excursion the students and the accompanying professors, Dietmar Sternad and Wolfgang Leitner, left early from their accommodation JUFA Bad in Aussee to Rottenmann, a small city where the company AHT Cooling Systems is located.
AHT is a producer (and world market leader) of plug-in refrigeration systems for supermarkets, ice cream freezers and beverage cooling systems. They were met by Ulrich Bartoleit, the Head of Marketing and Sales (and an alumnus of CUAS) and his colleagues. The group was provided with information on the company’s international business activities and the production process was explained in detail. The students again showed their curiosity by asking several questions. A factory tour enabled the students to get an insight into the complexity of the whole supply chain, starting from the pressing operations to the final branding of the freezers.
Before leaving to the next appointment, there was plenty of time for the group to explore Styria’s picturesque capital of Graz, to visit its cultural landmark, the clock tower, to take a relaxed stroll through the old town or to simply unwind while having lunch.
After the stopover in Graz, the students continued their journey to the STYRIA Media Group headquarters, also located in Graz. Founded in 1869, STYRIA is one of the leading media groups in Austria, Croatia and Slovenia. The company portfolio is strongly diversified and includes daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and book publishers, radio stations and a shareholding in a TV station. The group was warmly welcomed by Dr. Klaus Schweighofer, Member of the Management Board. After a short tour through the impressive company buildings, the multimedia newsroom was visited. Furthermore, the students got the opportunity to look behind the scenes of “Antenne Steiermark”, a radio channel part of the STYRIA Media Group.
The students saw it as a very enriching experience to look deeper into the success stories of those four internationally operating companies. The group especially appreciated the opportunity to get valuable insights which they would not have received as a private person visiting an international company. Owing to the company representatives’ open-mindedness and honesty together with their incredible hospitality the excursion will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on all participants.