Grad Students Experience Brazilian Traffic, Business

Driving to work in a typical Oklahoma town can be a fairly routine experience. For Mitzi Khettouch, the "drive to work" on a recent trip to Brazil was anything but routine.

"The lanes seem to be mere suggestions, as are speed limits, and tailgating is the norm," said the graduate student. "All the time, motorcycles are whizzing between cars, weaving through traffic, honking their horns to let people know they're coming through."

Khettouch was a part of a team of students from Oklahoma Baptist University's International Graduate School which traveled to Brazil to experience real-world issues related to international business. The students are pursuing master of business administration degrees through the OBU IGS in downtown Oklahoma City.

As part of their immersion into Brazilian business practices, students from Oklahoma Baptist University's International Graduate School visited with representatives from Vaotrantim Celulose e Papel, a pulp paper plant. Pictured in the upper right corner of the photo are, from left, Mitzi Khettouch and Corey Burnett, part of the OBU team which traveled to the South American country during the summer to fulfill requirements for the OBU IGS master of business administration degree.

The OBU program requires an international study experience as part of the 18-month degree. In past years, OBU IGS students have studied business models in Europe. The Brazil journey in July gave the student the opportunity to see international business limitations and opportunities in the mega-cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Representatives from Brazilian firms hosted the OBU IGS students. The team visited BOVESPA, the Brazilian Stock exchange. They also met with representatives from the state-owned oil company Petrobras; ICONE, a trade think tank; and the Brazilian steel mill Usimina Cubatao. They were able to visit at Brazilian offices of Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, as well as other firms in the South American country.

"This was probably the best trip that we have had to date," said Gene King, an OBU business professor who coordinates the OBU IGS international experiences. "I base this on the number of high quality sites that we were able to visit, and the variety of companies and experiences. I believe that we have established the contacts to make Brazil a super venue for future IGS trips."

Dr. Scott Harris, OBU IGS director, said the international experience is a key component of the MBA degree program.

"MBA students have certain notions of how business is run. This is usually from an American viewpoint," Harris said. "Once they are exposed to an international company on its home turf, they see that the way to do business is so much larger than their preconceived ideas. Their world expands."

While in Brazil, the students also attended a worship service at the First Baptist Church of Bras in Sao Paulo. They met with Brazilian students after the service.

"It was one of the best experiences for the students," King said.

Trip participants also visited popular cultural sites, including as Corcovado, the internationally famous Christ Statue in Rio de Janeiro.

Launched in February 2007, the OBU International Graduate School MBA degree program is designed to offer convenient graduate studies, with courses meeting one night per week and one Saturday per course. The program can be completed in 18 months.

"It is not your typical brick and mortar Executive MBA," Harris said. "Professors from OBU's campus and well-versed, qualified adjunct professors lead students through an educational experience that is Christ-centered and rigorously challenging."

OBU IGS also offers a master of science degree in nursing. The OBU International Graduate School is located at 111 Harrison Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City. For more information, visit or call (405) 319-8470.