Open Eye: Putting learning into practice

Romanian management students added value to their OU coursework by using it to set up a business travel company - selling services back to course organisers.

Codecs Business Travel now arranges and runs residential schools for about 4,000 people studying OU courses with Romania's Centre for Open Distance Education (Codecs), as well as a programme of training, conferences, incentive and business travel for corporate clients.

General Manager Petrut Patrascoiu was one of the first generation of Romanians to join Codecs in 1995, and credits his studies with giving him the skills to launch a new business.

He recalls: "Studying with the OU in Romania, I took part in residential schools and came to realise we could work together in organising these events in a more professional style.

"We started to organise the schools for Codecs and, as the organisation grew, developing training and consulting activities, we took over a lot of the logistics. We then realised our experience and range of services would make a winner, and set up as Codecs Business Travel."

Petrut, who is currently studying for his management diploma, adds: "Have the OU's management courses helped? I would say `a lot' - right from the original business idea up to writing business plans and organising finance, most of my knowledge came out of these courses." He singles out competitive management skills as most useful in a country where transition to a market economy is creating new businesses.

According to colleague Rodica Radulescu, who is marketing director for CODECS, first off the mark have been those managers who were successful in Romania's state-run companies and therefore had the confidence to take risks.

The company's success is dependent on the quality of the service it offers. Rodica says: "We were having problems when other companies were doing the work because they did not understand the OU culture. Our students are running their own businesses and have certain needs - things have to be done in a specific way for them - it's not just about arranging student travel."

While the business and incentive travel market represent the most significant chunk of Codecs' work, it is also developing the tourist market - initially outbound from Romania.

Three Eclipse '99 tours, one including a trip to Dracula's castle, are its first inbound venture.

Says Petrut: "We couldn't possibly overlook the tourist potential of the eclipse, so we thought we would arrange something just as exclusive as the rest of our business by preparing special programmes for OU students throughout Europe.

Codecs Business Travel can be contacted on e-mail: cbt@fx.ro, or by telephone:

(+401) 650.73.63; (+401) 212.46.76

Internet site: www.cbt.ro

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