In my first class, I asked students here at Mohyla University in Kiev to name five businesses that were important in their lives. I ask the same question of my US students at the start of the semester. It introduces the idea to students that they can find interesting stories about business from their own lives, and that the businesses that are important to them often are mostly unknown to them. We revisit the companies they have named from time to time to talk about financial performance, corporate governance, and corporate strategies.
The students here named many of the same companies as US students, demonstrating that we live in a commercially connected world. Their companies included Microsoft and Google. But there were also many, as you would expect, that never show up on a list in my US classes: Vkontakte.ru (a social network site), Je (a bookstore), Trapezna Akademiya (fast food restaurant), Silpo (supermarket) and Krainia (a magazine).
This is interesting to me -- and is helping me learn about Ukraine as the students learn about business.