International Business Summit yields great turnout

International Business Summit yields great turnout

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Jake Essman / The Arbiter

The Micron Business and Economics Building’s SKAGGS Hall of Learning filled rapidly as businessmen and businesswomen filed into the room.

Nearly every seat was taken by 1:30 p.m., when Boise State President Bob Kustra walked to the podium to introduce the International Business Summit, put on by the College of Business and Economics on Friday.

The Summit consisted of an introduction by Kustra, a few words regarding the international side of the J.R. Simplot Company from the keynote speaker, Simplot CEO William J. Whitacre, and a panel discussion moderated by Lt. Governor Brad Little, in which the audience had the opportunity to pose
questions.

The Panel

The panel consisted of five members, all of whom are business experts. Three of the panelists  represented the international companies Micron, Simplot and Rekluse. The panel also contained a representative of CUIBE, which is a consortium of schools and universities that have undergraduate International Business programs and a distinguished Boise State alumna.

Simplot:

J.R. Simplot Company is a food and agribusiness empire based in Boise. Simplot has expanded throughout the world with plants in Australia, Canada, China, Korea, Southeast Asia, Mexico and Latin America. Simplot was founded by the energetic entrepreneur J. R. Simplot. According to Whitacre, on average, every Australian eats at least one Simplot product every day. What began as a one-man farming company has grown into an international food company.  William J. Whitacre is the current CEO of J.R. Simplot Company and has been
since 2009.

During his presentation, Whitacre spoke on the importance of potatoes to Simplot and to Idaho’s economy. According to Whitacre, potatoes are a growing international commodity, the demand for steak and potatoes in China has grown
exponentially.

“I hope all of you eat french fries. Actually, order them; you don’t have to eat them,”
Whitacre said.

Micron:

Micron Technology is a multinational corporation based in Boise. The company is best known for producing semiconductor devices. These include DRAM, SDRAM, flash memory, SSD and CMOS image sensing chips. Mark Durcan was apppointed CEO of Micron in Feb. 2012 after the passing of former CEO Steve
Appleton.

Rekluse:

Boise’s Rekluse Motor Sports is a leading contributor to the motorcycle industry in clutch performance and technology. Rekluse won the 2012 Small Business Administration National Exporter of the Year Award.

The Moderator

Brad Little is Idaho’s 37 Lieutant Governor and has served since 2009. Little is a third-generation Idahoan from Emmett.

The Panelists

Mark Durcan: Mark Durcan is the CEO of Micron Technology. Durcan has been with the company for 28 years. Durcan is also the chairman of the Micron Technology Foundation, Inc. This foundation aims to advance science education and support charitable institutions in which Micron has facilities. Durcan holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical
engineering.

Joe DeGano: Joe DeGano is the marketing manager at Rekluse Motor Sports. DeGano is a former motocross racer and coach. He comes from New Jersey but has lived the last 19 years in Idaho.

William J. Whitacre: Whitacre has been with Simplot Company since 2000. In addition to being the CEO of J.R. Simplot company, Whitacre is a motorcyclist and recently completed a 4,300 mile ride across Latin America to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Idaho.

Joseph Rottman: Rottman is the Director of the International Business Institute at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Rottman is also an associate professor of information systems and a research fellow at University of Missouri’s Center for International Studies.

Vera Zdravkova:  Zdravkova is a distinguished Boise State alumnus who graduated in fall 2011 with a degree in international business. Zdravkova held a number of internships at Idaho District Export Council, the Idaho Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of State. Zdravkova has been offered a position at the U.S. Department of state and plans to hold a career as a foreign service
officer.

The Discussion

Lt. Governor Little posed a number of questions to the panel about the organization of their companies and encouragement for
students.

Little then opened the panel to the audience, allowing Boise State students and staff the opportunity to pick the brains of these business
professionals.

Q: “Mark, (CEO of Micron) how does the fact that the company is based out of Idaho affect your ability to compete?”

A:“We had a lot of things going for us when we first came to Idaho, such as cheap power, access to water, and, most importantly, a group of folks with a fantastic work ethic that stuck with us. People that come to Boise like to stay here.”

Q: “Joe, (Rekluse Marketing) could you talk to us a bit about your internship program?”

A:“We really need help and have to use our interns to do research and a lot of hard work.  The slogan we give to our interns is, ‘Act as though you have nothing to lose. Ask what can you do, not how
can I help.”

Many students found value in the information they learned at the Summit, and though not the main intent of the event some were able to network with business associates following the summit itself over
refreshments.

A few students shared their favorite moments from the summit.

Sydney Sears, an accounting and finance major, was shocked at the vastness of the Simplot company.

“I had no idea that Simplot was outside of Idaho. The mere fact that they have an international business part of their company was
interesting to me.”

Another student agreed with Sears.

“It was interesting to me that Simplot had such an international influence. ” Elle
Casner said.

Casner, an accounting and finance major, added, “I really liked the panel questions, the questions that were asked represented Boise State students well.”