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TV crew shadows German students at Pitt

Wednesday, January 26, 2000

By Lawrence Walsh, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Richard Kuttenreich and Annegret Resch-innerkofler of Germany, who enjoy the practical application aspects of the business classes they are taking at the University of Pittsburgh, have found their course work sometimes has a personal application as well.

Kuttenreich and Resch-innerkofler yesterday were the spokespersons for 27 German graduate students from the University of Augsburg who are attending a seven-week program at the Katz Graduate School of Business.

From Sunday evening through yesterday afternoon, a camera crew for a Bavarian television station followed them as they attended classes, studied in the library, visited the German nationality room in the Cathedral of Learning and went to a jazz concert.

The station, which is doing a four-part series on Germany's first executive master of business administration program, specializes in the coverage of business and economic issues.

The crew, led by Barbara Schepanek, selected Kuttenreich and Resch-innerkofler for their natural, comfortable on-camera presence and their nonbusiness backgrounds. Kuttenreich is a mechanical engineer; Resch-innerkofler's specialty is geography. Both are married and have children. The occupations of the other students range from marketing and public relations to law, human resources and product management.

During a break yesterday, Kuttenreich talked about his educational and employment background, the Katz program and the difficulties of helping his wife raise two active daughters an ocean away.

Kuttenreich, 38, of Bavaria, is a project manager for Compaq in Munich, the world's largest personal computer manufacturer. His specialty is software and systems integration work on large international jobs that last from two to four years. His last project was overseeing that type of work for the German patent office.

"It took several years and involved about 20 suppliers from all over the world," he said.

Kuttenreich and his fellow students started their studies last January. The two-year program includes at least seven weeks at Pitt's Katz school as part of a long-standing cooperative effort between the two universities.

"It was determined that part of their studies should include an international experience and that's what we provide," said Robert Nachtmann, associate dean of the Katz school.

"The students can select four or five electives from 40 electives that we offer for a total of from six to nine credits. This gives them tremendous flexibility in what they want to study."

Kuttenreich not only is enjoying the electives he has chosen - marketing, product management, negotiation and cross-cultural dimensions of international management - he also likes the way the courses are taught. "In Germany, the teacher stands in front of the room and speaks, and the students sit and listen.

"Here, there's more interaction between the teachers and students," he said. "There's a lot of team-building and group work. And the case histories we study are real. We review what companies did in response to a variety of problems and challenges, such as competition and product development.

"We would like the teachers in Germany to adopt the [Katz school approach] as soon as possible."

Kuttenreich said he is very interested in marketing in cross-cultural environments because his long-range projects have involved companies in Argentina, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the U.S.

"The key to successful projects, especially those that take several years, is to learn how to interact with other nationalities, socialize with them and engage in team-building with them," Kuttenreich said.

The home team also is very important, he said.

"I call my wife, Monika, twice a week to see how she's doing and how our daughters [Hannah, 7, and Ellena, 3] are behaving," he said. "The children keep her very busy and she already has told me that this will be my last extended trip away from home until the girls are older."

Kuttenreich said if he had it to do all over again, he would have pursued his master's degree right after he graduated from the University of Augsburg.

"I think the best thing is to get the MBA, work for five to seven years and then return to a university for more academic work, and repeat that cycle during your career," he said. "That way you have the best of both worlds - the theoretical approach provided by a university and its practical application at work."