Business graduate thrives at prestigious Norwegian economics school

Monday, April 3, 2006

Tyler Gehrmann ended his dizzying first week as a graduate student in Norway celebrating with old and new friends – first catching up on news from home over dinner with his SCSU adviser, Elaine Davis, then meeting fellow students for a concert in the picturesque North Sea-coast city that's his home for two years.

Gehrmann's exhilaration was evident as he described for Professor Davis life as a student in the prestigious Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen. He's one of 30 non-Norwegian students in his master of science program. His colleagues are a global mix from Lebanon, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, France, Germany, China, India, Ghana, Peru, Belarus, Finland, Thailand and four other U.S. states.

Management Professor Elaine Davis and former student Tyler GehrmannThe graduate student wants to someday work for a large international business, which will require being open to overseas assignments and feeling comfortable stepping out with colleagues and clients from far-flung places, he said.

Gehrmann's opportunity to pursue his graduate degree in Norway came about because of the commitment of faculty members in the G.R. Herberger College of Business to give students international experiences.

"There's a core of faculty really emotionally invested in this," Davis said of their encouragement of international education. "We were all really gratified by Tyler's news. The day he was accepted the e-mails were flying. Tyler's our first one to really do it," she said.

By the time Gehrmann finished his bachelor's degree in spring 2005, he already had several months of international experience – first in the SCSU study-abroad program in Ingolstadt, Germany, then as an intern at Siemens, a Berlin and Munich-based electrical engineering and electronics conglomerate. He knew further overseas study would help him achieve his goals in international business. But until Davis gave him a pamphlet about a top-rated European master's program with free tuition, he wasn't sure how or where he should take his next step – or how he'd pay for it. Three months later he was filling one of the coveted international slots in Norway's leading business school. He was on his way.

Known internationally as NHH, Gehrmann's school is in what's often been called "the city between seven mountains." Norway's stunningly beautiful second-largest city is on the west coast and is home to more than 225,000 people. He notes a different environment at the Bergen graduate school, with required papers graded as satisfactory or not, and for each course a single three-hour essay exam at the end of the semester. "You're not babysat here," he said. "You're competing with a much higher caliber student, and you're expected to do your work."

Getting accepted at a state-supported school like NHH requires stellar academic credentials. Most members of the top management team at Statoil, the largest company on the Oslo Stock Exchange with 24,000 employees, have an NHH background. "Clearly, a degree from there (NHH) is a strong recommendation in someone's job search," said Einar Bergh, senior adviser for Statoil's Group Communications Department.

"I'm learning about different styles of management and how businesses are different all around the world," Gehrmann said. He's looking forward to his optional semester abroad. "I'm thinking about China." But in the meantime, he's relishing his opportunity in Bergen and enjoying the breathtaking mountains and fjords that surround him and his new friends from around the world.

In preparation for their reunion Aug. 11-12, alumni of the Alnwick, England, study-abroad program were invited to submit favorite memories and photos from their experience.

This story reflects some of the comments included in the dozens of enthusiastic responses from participants eager to reminisce about their transcendent coming-of-age experience at "The Castle." Although there is not room on these pages to include all of the stories and photos, all are published in their entirety at www.stcloudstate.edu/studyabroad/alumni.

- Marsha Shoemaker

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