24 Hours in Louisville
Annual GLS Overnight Field Trip Includes Visits to Churchill Downs, KFC and Texas Roadhouse Headquarters
LOUISVILLE – In the span of barely more than 24 hours, students in the Global Leadership Scholars (GLS) program enjoyed backstage access to three high-profile corporate brands as part of GLS’s annual overnight field trip.
From a boardroom nestled inside Churchill Downs, home of the famed Kentucky Derby, to the test kitchen of KFC, GLS students on March 24 and 25 met with corporate executives, listened to a range of business presentations and even talked a little international business strategy with their hosts.
“The field trips have been an important part of the GLS experience, enabling our students to get a first-hand look at a variety of businesses and engage with company leaders and staff members,” said Department of Management lecturer Kathy Wood, who has helped coordinate the field trips since GLS’s founding in 2007. “A company visit provides a different kind of learning opportunity than guest speakers here on campus.”
With many of the 26 participating students being seniors, the trip proved a valued capstone experience.
“As I’ve progressed through GLS, I kind of feel like we’ve gotten more and more spoiled with the opportunities we’ve had,” Ben Hyman, a senior Logistics major from Knoxville, said. “For an undergraduate to be able to go to these businesses, meet the people that we meet, it’s a great learning experience. …
“I hope the program can continue to take trips like this. I know it takes a lot of resources for the College, but I do think it’s really fantastic.”
Among the highlights of the trip was a visit to the headquarters of Texas Roadhouse, which Forbes recognized in 2010 as a top-10 fastest-growing retailer, joining the likes of Amazon.com, Apple and Netflix.
Price Cooper, Texas Roadhouse’s Vice President of Finance, hosted the visit. As a Knoxville native and 1992 UT College of Business Administration graduate, Cooper was grateful to spend the morning surrounded by friendly faces.
“It’s always good to have Big Orange fans because here in Louisville, all you’ve got are ugly [Kentucky] Wildcats and [Louisville] Cardinals,” Cooper said with a laugh.
Cooper’s enthusiasm, however, went far beyond school colors and mascots. He noted how impressed he was by the students, whom Cooper and his associates later hosted for lunch at a nearby Texas Roadhouse location.
“The students were so much sharper than I would’ve imagined,” said Cooper, who majored in Accounting at UT. “It was awfully refreshing to see. I loved the overall engagement of this group, the way they asked so many good questions and tried to make the most of the opportunity.
“I told them when we were talking at lunch that this is just a fabulous experience they’re getting, just visiting all these companies and seeing different industries and different corporate cultures and different leaders. They’re really lucky.”