SOURCE: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

August 02, 2012 08:00 ET

Wharton | San Francisco MBA Students Embrace Indigenous Australia for Global Tourism Engagement Project

MBA Students Drive a Plan for Greater Indigenous Engagement Between North America and Australia Through Experiential Tourism

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - Aug 2, 2012) - This week, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will host leaders from the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC) at its campus in San Francisco, where a team of MBA students, from the executive program at the Wharton School and the University of Queensland Business School in Australia, will deliver a plan to increase awareness of the Australian Indigenous tourism sector, and to enhance the organization's engagement with North America.

The initiative is part of the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum (GCP), a cross-functional, international course within the Wharton MBA program, which provides students with the opportunity to consult with a client company based in a foreign country.

Client company implementation of team recommendations through GCP projects has added more than US$400 million in annual sales revenue to clients, including a strong representation in the non-profit social impact sector.

The WAITOC project reflects Wharton and the GCP's philosophy of integrating social responsibility into everyday business practices.

The WAITOC project team must deliver outcomes that allow the Indigenous community in Western Australia to engage global markets and increase their commercial viability while ensuring a positive social impact.

GCP co-founder and founding Vice Dean for Wharton | San Francisco, Prof of Marketing, Len Lodish, said:

"Social impact is much more than social causes, it's about how you impact all stakeholders -- your shareholders, the communities you live in, the government you work with -- as a business you cannot ignore those stakeholders.

"The long-term value you deliver to your shareholders depends on how well you understand and respond to all stakeholders, so consideration of the social impact is crucial."

WAITOC provides a unique opportunity for Indigenous people in Australia to participate and contribute to the tourism industry in a meaningful way that maintains and values their cultural heritage. The organization's ultimate goal is to increase awareness and to attract travelers who are interested in genuine, cultural learning which showcases WAITOC's diverse offering.

"Being indigenous is a blessing and a responsibility," said WAITOC CEO Johnny Edmonds. "Indigenous peoples throughout the world, being values-based and spiritually connected to place, have key contributions to make to the achievement of global harmony. Tourism is a marvelous vehicle for enabling this and creating a shared understanding between different peoples."

Wharton's GCP has been running for more than 30 years and partners with other elite business schools -- including the University of Queensland -- in countries including Africa, Australia, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Israel, Peru, Spain, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.

The GCP program provides an exceptional and practical learning experience for the students and access to innovative, value-adding implementation plans for the client.

Neill Butcher, a Wharton| San Francisco MBA student and a Principal Engineer at Aracadis, said the GCP project was an immensely valuable learning experience. "I had underestimated the challenges of working in a global team -- I have worked in remote teams across the United States on many occasions but the GCP provides a whole new set of challenges. I really enjoyed the opportunity to co-ordinate closely with the Australian team to deliver a good outcome for WAITOC."

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