FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Henkel Consumer Goods is spearheading
a project this summer to give students in Arkansas and
Ireland a taste of what it is like to work in long-distance
collaboration for a multinational corporation.
Henkel has operations in more than 75 countries worldwide.
Brent Horn, vice president of Walmart U.S. for Henkel
Consumer Goods in Rogers, said Henkel is in a position to
help students collaborate over long distances - and to
benefit from the innovative ideas such projects generate.
Henkel is doing that in a project involving students at the
Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of
Arkansas and at the University College Dublin's Michael
Smurfit Graduate Business School. "The students are working
to develop a 'best-in-class' process of commercialization
of consumer products across the globe, Horn said.
The project's goal is to find a method for leveraging
consumer product trends and technologies in one country and
sharing those trends and technologies with the company's
operations in other countries, he said. "As a global
company, Henkel has a unique opportunity, as well as a
challenge, to identify and share consumer trends and
technologies around the world, Horn said.
Heather Sprandel, director of the George W. Edwards
Jr. Career Center at the Walton College, developed the
collaborative project. "It is imperative for college
students to gain real experience prior to graduation,
Sprandel said. "In a tough job market and with shrinking
company budgets, the career center sought partners at
Smurfit and Henkel to help M.B.A. students gain work
experience, build skills and solve a real-world business
Henkel, probably best known in the United States for its
Dial soap brand, operates worldwide with brands and
technologies in three business areas: laundry and home
care, cosmetics and toiletries, and adhesive technologies.
"Henkel is a global company and is committed to partnering
business with academia to solve real-life issues and drive
opportunities, Horn said.
Manish Phogat, a master's of business administration
student, leads a five-member team from the Walton College,
which is working with three students at Smurfit. The five
Walton College students are Phogat, Lauren Collins, XiaoYan
Zheng, Bin Liu and Devavrata Misra.
"It has been a great experience working on this project,
Phogat said. "We have the opportunity to interact with the
Smurfit team and understand their perspective, and we have
done research on international markets. Overall, we have
had a holistic approach to the project, which helped us in
understanding global dynamics of the market.
Horn said the project came about as a result of Henkel's
longstanding relationship with the Walton College. "Every
year, Henkel in Northwest Arkansas employs two interns from
the M.B.A. program, he said. "To date, many of these
interns have gone on to full-time employment with Henkel.
Henkel has hired seven University of Arkansas M.B.A.s since
Phogat said team members work on the project from home much
of the time and meet face-to-face two to three times a
week. "I hope we can add some innovative suggestions to
improve Henkel's current process of identifying a consumer
trend, he said.
U.S. team members have been able to draw on the expertise
of Walton College faculty and Henkel executives, as well as
marketing officials in the company's U.S. headquarters in
Scottsdale, Ariz., and in Ireland.
"From our internships to the project, we strive to involve
the students in real life business situations, Horn said.
"Both Henkel and the students win in this situation. This
project brings the textbook to life for the students.
Phogat said that was true in his case. "I've gotten an
inside view on the U.S. market and how global a company has
to think even if the target market is U.S., he said.
The multinational team approach will give Henkel plenty of
ideas with which to work and will suit its global business,
Horn said. "I can tell you, based on my discussions with
both the Smurfit team and the University of Arkansas team,
they are attacking this challenge with two different
methodologies, he said. "From my standpoint, this will give
me far more options and things to consider in the final