Oct. 11, 2016
Brittany VanderBeek went from Michigan to Paris — “living like a local” along the way — before finding herself continuing the trend in Greenville, South Carolina, where she moved for her internship in Michelin’s Global Leadership Program.
Like she says in her blog, “InspirNational,” the International MBA student at the Darla Moore School of Business tries to live with a traveling mindset by taking up whatever hobbies and interests the locals enjoy. When she was studying business for her undergraduate degree in her native Michigan, she liked to swim in Lake Michigan and visit the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. For her semester in Paris, she lived with a host family and spent time in art museums and small cafes trying different wines and cheeses. Now that she’s in Greenville, she loves to fill her free time bike-riding along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and hiking at Table Rock State Park.
This appreciation for the environment translates into her current focus on sustainability. The supply chain analytics student started her career in sustainability consulting where she helped companies figure out how to have a sustainable impact on the community by thinking abut the environment and their employees. While she enjoyed working with a variety of clients, she was looking to shift gears to focusing on one company and helping accomplish its goals.
“In consulting, I had the opportunity to work with all different kinds of clients, but I knew I wanted to be able to not just give recommendations, but see them through,” VanderBeek said.
After she realized that, she came to the International MBA program to develop her supply chain knowledge and really focus on the internal processes that make a business function. Through the French track, she was able to study in Paris for a semester before starting her internship with Michelin in Greenville. After being immersed in French culture, she found it interesting to see how Michelin operates in the United States.
“It’s more Americanized than I was expecting,” she said. “Overall, they’ve really adapted here because the business is so strong.”
One universal aspect of Michelin is the loyalty between the company and its employees.
“I’m very impressed that the majority of the people I’ve talked with have been with Michelin for at least 20 years,” she said. “The people here are very committed to the company and the company is committed to the people.”
This environment allows for flexibility within the company; many people have come in to fill a certain role and have ended up rotating into different positions as needed.
“The people are passionate about what they do, which makes them flexible,” she said.
She has seen this adaptability mirrored in her fellow International MBA students because of the swift transitions between classes, studying abroad and internships that the program requires. This ability is one of the ones she counts most valuable of the intangible skills the program has taught her. Another is the influence of culture and its importance in business.
“Not only are we learning the core business skills, but we’re also learning about the cultural complications in business,” she said. “We have to look at how culture and language impact what we’re doing.”
After completing her internship, VanderBeek hopes to continue her work with Michelin from a broader position that has an effect on the whole company, whether it be in sustainability or something like community relations. Wherever she ends up — be it somewhere like Greenville or Paris — she’s sure to be found living like a local.
By Madeleine Vath