Prelude to Plus3

“From the classroom. To the city. To the world”. . . Ciao, my name is Alaina! I am a business student in the University of Pittsburgh’s Undergraduate School of Business studying HR and Marketing (at the moment). I am from Wexford, PA and am thrilled to be spending a portion of my summer across the world with 19 other students on our Plus3 Italy adventure!

On our 2-week trip to Italy, we will visit cities such as Milan, Venice, Florence, Verona, and Como where we will be touring different companies to help us learn more about Supply Chain Management first-hand.  I am anxious to learn more about the supply chain process and the Italian culture since the business industry is becoming increasingly more global.  Acquiring knowledge about the business world in a different country with a vastly different culture will better prepare me for future business interactions and will be an invaluable experience by increasing my global business perspective.

To prepare us for our upcoming study abroad trip, we had 4 pre-departure meetings to provide valuable insight into what to expect in Italy and to learn more about supply chain systems. During the first meeting, we all gave brief “About Me” presentations to learn more about the people we would be traveling across the world with, and we got our first introduction to the basics of supply chains.  We are a diverse group based on academic interests within the fields of business and engineering as well as with our personal interests and travel experiences.  Given that most of my travel experiences have been with my family, it will be fascinating to travel with people who have different perspectives and expectations.

During the second meeting, we learned more about supply chains and did brief presentations on the supply chain flow of different types of objects (motorcycle jackets, fine wool fabric, T-shirts, polyester fabric, eyeglasses).  My group presented the fine wool fabric supply chain network details, and I was surprised by how complex the production of fabric alone was.  Even the simplest product might have material sources from different manufacturers around the world because often times, a primary manufacturer has network connections with component suppliers, upstream suppliers, direct customers, and then downstream customers. The flow is not as simple as “manufacturer directly to end user!”

Our third meeting consisted of presentations on Italian culture. We presented information about the weather, history, and business practices in Italy since it is important to know more about the areas we will be traveling through. Having this knowledge allows us to be better prepared for our itinerary activities and provides a better context and understanding for proper interactions with people along the way. I was surprised to learn that in the Italian business world, face-to-face communications and meetings are a lot more common and even expected compared to the business interactions conducted in the United States where we use emails to communicate efficiently. I was also intrigued by the fact that many small businesses will routinely close for a few hours in the afternoon to allow employees to rest and then they resume normal operations later in the day.

In our final meeting, each group gave a presentation on different Italian companies. Our group was assigned a company called Sculoa del Cuoio (Florentine Leather School, Florence).  We discussed the importance of social responsibility and sustainability in the fashion industry because there are many areas within the supply chain process that can have a negative impact on finite resources such as clean water and air.  We also examined the competition between “fast-fashion” and higher-end luxury companies.  Researching this Italian leather school got me even more exited to begin the trip because the vocational nature of the company lends itself to a unique business and cultural opportunity!  This particular business is family owned and exemplifies the importance of traditions and values to people in the Italian culture.

The next time we will all be together is May 5th, to begin the journey to Milan! I am excited to see how the business, engineering, and cultural aspects of our trip all mesh together. Stay tuned for more on my adventure abroad!


|| Alaina All’Estero – “Alaina Abroad” ||

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