Miami alumnus attributes international career, in part, to MUDEC

By Rachel Berry

Miami alumnus Robert Peiffer has visited around 90 countries throughout his lifetime, and he is constantly adding to that list. He lived abroad for 14 years and has spent much of his career traveling and working with those of different backgrounds.

Peiffer traces his love of traveling back to 1987, the summer he studied abroad at the Miami University Dolibois European Center (MUDEC).

Peiffer, a 1988 Miami graduate, had been abroad one time before he stepped foot on Miami’s Luxembourg campus. During winter break of his freshman year of college, a friend invited Peiffer to travel across Europe with him, and they spent 23 days visiting as many countries as they could.

As a triple major in accounting, finance, and decision sciences, Peiffer didn’t see a semester abroad as a possibility. Then, his junior year, the business school introduced a new 6-week summer program at MUDEC. Peiffer jumped at the chance to return to Europe.

Miami’s Luxembourg campus was unique at that time, and it wasn’t as common for students to study abroad.

“I had already had a bit of a taste of travel, but the opportunity to study abroad for a longer period of time was very appealing,” he said.

Peiffer took two courses that summer: international marketing and international management. Classes lasted all day Monday through Wednesday and ended at noon on Thursday. Peiffer said the students would come to class with their backpacks packed on Thursdays, so as soon as class was over, they could run to the train station and hop on a train to Paris or Amsterdam or Berlin.

After his time at MUDEC ended, Peiffer spent another month traveling by himself around Europe, trying to visit places that were less well-known and that he hadn’t been before, such as Yugoslavia and Budapest.

Peiffer later returned home for his senior year at Miami and found a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm in Washington D.C. The company, which has locations all over the world, would allow employees to relocate to an international location after six years in the United States.

Peiffer had only been at the company for two and a half years when the Soviet Union began to break apart and Eastern Europe opened up in 1991. Because of this, Pricewaterhouse was looking for people to start branches in Eastern Europe and lowered the experience requirement.

Peiffer had visited Budapest while abroad in college and volunteered to be transferred there.

“If Europe generally could be a little daunting, going to eastern Europe at that time was a little scary,” Peiffer said. “[My summer in Luxembourg] made it easier for me to take the risk of a big move like that without feeling like I’d be completely out of my element.”

While working in Budapest, Peiffer met his wife, a native Hungarian who worked in his office. He also had the first of his two children there.

Peiffer moved around after that, working in Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, and London before moving back to New York permanently in 2006.

Even after returning to the United States, though, Peiffer served in roles that allowed him to travel for work.

Peiffer also finds ways to travel in his personal life and usually goes on about two trips per year. Just a few months ago, he spent two weeks in Qatar, Nepal, and Bhutan—countries that had been on his bucket list for awhile.

Peiffer serves on the board of directors for the African Center for Economic Transformation, a non-profit think-tank that gives African countries advice on how to improve their economies.

He also donates to MUDEC and to Miami scholarship funds to help give all Miami students the ability to study abroad.

“I realize what a powerful opportunity MUDEC was for me,” Peiffer said, “and how it potentially shaped my life or some of my early experiences.”

Lifetime Network

Over 11,000 Miamians have been a part of the 50 year tradition at the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg (MUDEC). There’s a network of alumni ready to help connect students with internships and careers upon return.

Want to study abroad at MUDEC?

Registration for fall 2020 ends April 1.

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