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International grad students apply lessons learned here

Rochester Business Journal
June 27, 2014

Rochester colleges attract a wide range of international business students. Because of the global corporate culture, studying business internationally affords students the knowledge to be well-equipped when entering the workforce.

Three local institutions—the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders School of Business and the St. John Fisher School of Business—offer graduate-level business programs with diverse student bodies. Students can use their prior international experiences to build on their chosen concentrations.

These students came to the U.S. from numerous countries and have since experienced different business approaches, used different resources and been immersed in Rochester’s business culture.

Pedro Tavarez: marketing, Dominican Republic
Tavarez decided to come to the U.S. to earn his master’s in marketing at Saunders because of the competitive advantage a U.S. diploma offers in the Dominican Republic. He completed his undergraduate studies at the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo, where he studied industrial engineering.

Tavarez had a bit more than a year of experience in the marketing industry in the Dominican Republic. He says one of the main differences between business approaches in the U.S. and his home country is the way in which decisions are made. In the U.S., business decision-makers rely heavily on data and analysis, while personal experiences have a primary effect on decisions in the Dominican Republic.

Tavarez says other international students have enriched his education by sharing their global business knowledge.

“The cultural experience with other international students, how they approach things, how they see them, is very interesting and reaching,” he says. If he works on an international team in the future, Tavarez adds, he will better understand other approaches because of his interactions with students from around the world.

Disha Manocha: marketing, India
Manocha is a graduate student at Saunders, where she is studying marketing with some focus in finance. Manocha is from India, where she went to Bharati Vidyapeeth’s New Law College and started her business career. While in law school she helped her father run his business and then worked at BMW Financial Services, dealing with compliance issues for about a year and a half.

Manocha says she always knew she wanted to study for her MBA and believed earning it in the U.S. was the best option. She thought the focus on practical knowledge in the U.S. would benefit her more than only studying out of textbooks in India.

Manocha says while studying in the U.S., her varied cultural experiences have added to her education because of her prior work in a global corporate culture. “I think the companies and the schools here really look for diversity, especially Rochester,” she says.

Because of the flexibility in the Saunders curriculum, she has been able to take courses she wants to take and has gotten real-world experience working with different companies—options she says she would not have had in India. Right now she is a marketing intern for the Advertising Council of Rochester.

Doris Shayo: management information services, Tanzania
Shayo decided to attend graduate school for business to escape the repetition of her job. When she left that job, she was unsure what exactly she wanted to do but knew an MBA would provide many avenues for her. This led her to study for her master’s in management information services with a minor in international business at Saunders.

“The fact that I am doing a traditional MBA, it helps just to learn a lot of things … so you can get a feel of what is most interesting to you,” Shayo says.

In Tanzania she completed her undergraduate studies in information and communication technology management at Mzumbe University, following that with three years as an assistant auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers in that country.

Studying in the U.S. has given her access to resources and professors who would not have been available to her in her home country, she says. Being part of the Fulbright Scholar program has also given Shayo more opportunities to interact with and learn from students throughout the world.

This summer Shayo is interning at IBM Corp. as a client representative.

Linh Nguyen: accounting, Vietnam
Nguyen is a 2014 graduate of Simon. She came to the U.S. in 2008 as a high school exchange student in New Hampshire and stayed to study accounting as an undergraduate at Saint Anselm College.

Through her continued education in accounting and her internships, Nguyen says, one of the most noticeable differences between Vietnam and the U.S. is the emphasis on networking. She says the assertiveness of people in the U.S., whether in asking for jobs through alumni networks or talking to individuals in higher positions, is unheard of in Vietnam.

“Here you can go and talk to your boss, ask them a question,” Nguyen says. “At my internship that I had when I was a sophomore, I ran into a situation where I needed to be assertive and talk to my boss.” She had to clear up a misunderstanding, and finding the courage to approach her boss was a challenge. “That was a difficult lesson to learn and a difficult thing for me to do at that time.”

Nguyen will be moving to Houston to work as an auditor for Ernst & Young.

Dominic Rasini: competitive and organizational strategy, Australia

Rasini is a 2014 competitive and organizational strategy MBA graduate of Simon. In Australia, he studied microbiology as an undergraduate from 1997 to 2001 at James Cook University. He spent 11 years in project management and general consulting at Queensland Health and wanted to spread his wings and go somewhere else.

“The most wonderful thing about the U.S. is that when you do work hard …, you’ll get the opportunities that you deserve,” he says.

Rasini says that while both countries have capitalist economies and many similarities in business, Australians tend to take fewer risks—which sometimes stifles innovation. One thing he wants to carry over from Australia is the ability to break down hierarchical walls and be comfortable with people who work at all levels.

Rasini will be working as a senior consultant for Deloitte Consulting in New York City.

Mazen Elrayes: general business, Syria
Elrayes came to the U.S. from Syria to earn a degree, something that he has wanted to do since he was young. “Getting a degree or any type of education from the United States has a great reputation almost everywhere you go around the world,” he says.

After attending Monroe Community College, he graduated from St. John Fisher College with an undergraduate degree in finance and earned his MBA this year. Back home he worked for his brother’s textile manufacturing and design business. He says there are fewer regulations in Syria and the businesses there tend to be less developed and organized.

“People mostly do things the old-fashioned way,” he says. “Most of it is done with handshakes and is based on trust.”

Elrayes says it’s important to have experience with cultures and people from all over the world.

“The better understanding you have of different cultures, people, languages and whatnot, the better advantage you have in today’s world.”

Elrayes has started work as a credit analyst at First American Equipment Finance in Rochester.

Praveen Desai: competitive and organizational strategy and consulting, India

Desai earned his MBA at Simon with concentrations in competitive and organizational strategy and consulting. He earned undergraduate degrees in engineering, electronics and communications engineering at Visvesvaraya Technological University and has seven years of experience working in India.

Desai wanted to come to the U.S. because he had no real experience with this country and knew the schools would be the most culturally diverse. He says attending business school in the U.S. was a great opportunity, offering immersion in the culture and different business approaches.

“People (in the U.S.) put in nine hours of work,” he says. “They give the best nine hours they have in a day. People are very conscious about their work-life balances.” He adds that there is more of an entrepreneurial and independent spirit here, whereas in India people are more likely to reach out for help from one other.

Desai will be working as a senior consultant for Deloitte Consulting in New York City.

Taylor Barker and Kellen Beck are Rochester Business Journal summer interns.

6/27/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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