Takeaways from ‘The Sweet Science of International Business’ with Christophe Van Riet
At our event last week, The Sweet Science of International Business, International Business alumni Christophe Van Riet shared his journey and what he’s learned from majoring in International Business at McCombs. Van Riet’s career path took him from working a nine-to-five job to ultimately owning his own international chocolate importing business, “Belgium’s Chocolate Source.”
Originally from Belgium, Christophe moved to Austin in 1988 and graduated with a BBA in International Business from McCombs School of Business. He went on to obtain an MBA from Emory University. In his professional career, Van Riet held top executive marketing roles with globally renowned corporations such as Colgate and Gillette. After gaining professional experience and leading fortune 500 companies, Christophe decided to strike out on his own and begin his entrepreneurial journey.
Here are some key takeaways from Christophe’s talk:
International Business Education Opportunities
- Christophe explained how engaging with a diverse student population at the University of Texas at Austin is a unique advantage not many university students get to experience. Living in this diverse environment is essential, especially in the early stages of the professional development of young adults, because it gives them a taste of the business world they will one day interact in.
- Besides studying at a diverse campus with students from all over the world, Van Riet explained how advantageous it is that UT offers many courses in regional studies and foreign languages as well as education abroad. He encouraged students to take advantage of these tools.
- Working for a global firm or owning an international business comes with significant risk and adversity. According to Christophe, this is why it is essential to master skills such as adaptability, cultural awareness, communication skills, and other skills common in International Business.
- The skill Van Riet highlighted most was creativity, and the importance of using it to find better solutions to common problems. The creativity needed to be successful when operating a business or working for an industry leader is learned in daily interactions. Hence, it pays to be attentive and constantly open to learning.
Perks of Working Globally
- One of the greatest benefits of working in International business is that work is done on a global scale. Working globally offers the ability to work on complex problems that require creative solutions. There is never-ending growth potential in an international business setting, and the number of learning opportunities is infinite.
- Working in international business requires traveling from country to country. Individuals are exposed to different cultures, people, and ideas. Learning associated with this exposure is difficult to match in other careers. According to Van Riet, international business students are especially well-positioned for unique and worthwhile opportunities around the globe.
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Written by Julian Gonzalez, Intern at the Center for Global Business