Thirty students from the University of Oklahoma MBA Program traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam in early January with Daniel Pullin, University of Oklahoma Dean and Fred E. Brown Chair of the Michael F. Price College, Margaret Shaffer, University of Oklahoma Michael F. Price Chair of International Business, Candace Stimmel, University of Oklahoma Director of Licensing and Branding and Renata Kukowski, Top of the World Vice President of Marketing & Licensing to learn more about how business is conducted in a global market.
The trip focused on two countries in southeast Asia, Thailand and Vietnam, with corporate and cultural stops in both locations. One of the corporate destinations was PNG Vietnam, a longtime headwear factory partner of Top of the World. Everyone was welcomed with a live band and fresh flowers before students toured the facility and were educated on PNG’s history, identity, role in the collegiate licensing world and the partnership among PNG, Top of the World and OU.
“PNG was definitely one of our best corporate visits,” said Shaffer. “Two executives from their head office in South Korea joined the session, along with Renata and Candace, so all of the major stakeholders were involved. Our hosts were especially gracious and welcoming. As we got off the bus, a band started playing music, and each of our group members was presented with a flower – they really made us feel special!
Meeting with the factory was also a highlight of Stimmel’s trip from a brand and licensing perspective.
“I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to visit PNG Vietnam,” said Stimmel. “It gave me a deeper understanding of the production process and how much focus is put on the creation of OU headwear. It also showed me first-hand how valued the partnership between TOW and PNG is. Their great working relationship has a positive impact on the OU brand. So often we only see our business from what comes across our computer screens or what lands at retail. We miss the human element behind bringing the product to life.”
Earlier in the semester, Kukowski and Stimmel briefed students on a marketing project that would highlight the partnership between Top of the World and OU, showcase headwear product and integrate corporate social responsibility and the relationship between Top of the World and PNG. Students pitched their ideas during the factory visit, and the winning initiative is in the works.
"We are always finding ways as a licensee to better support educational initiatives on campus,” said Kukowski. “It's not about the shirt and the hat, but also the educational mission of our university partners. This is the first of many trips we want to take like this."