World Shapers

Friday, November 30, 2012

Of all the schools at Vanderbilt, Owen Graduate School of Management is one of the most globally engaged, including dozens of international exchange programs, multiple overseas experiences and international coursework:

International Residency

Owen EMBA students getting first hand knowledge of Chinese business

Every year Owen’s Executive MBA students participate in an international residency as part of their degree program. In 2012, 49 second-year students of the Executive MBA class traveled to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Macau for the week-long residency, which is the capstone of EMBA’s Global Enterprise sequence. EMBA students visited executives from U.S.-based companies Apple, JP Morgan, and WalMart, representatives from the Hong Kong office of the American Chamber of Commerce, and executives of regional or international companies like CIMC Vehicles Group, a leading manufacturer of trailers and semi-trailers, and Huawei, a global ICT solutions provider.

According to Juli Tate Bennett, executive director of Owen’s Executive MBA and Americas MBA program, “the international residency’s goal is to teach students about the complexities of operating a business within the global marketplace, focusing specifically on how to adapt to the cultural, social, economic, political, and legal differences in other countries.” Past EMBA residencies included a variety of countries in both established and emerging markets, including Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, India, and South Korea. Each location is selected based on the workplace challenges of the particular EMBA class members in order to ensure that the trip maximizes practical application of knowledge at their place of employment.

Business in Brazil

Owen MBA Students visit Coteminas in Brazil

Brazil, with the world’s sixth largest economy and with a per capita GDP over $10,000, is a natural focus for a graduate course on business development. For the last few years, MBA students visited Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as part of a course where students develop a business project for a company either doing work in Brazil or expanding into Brazil. Mark A. Cohen, professor of management and law, leads the course and asks students to do a complete analysis of companies that were engaging—or planning to engage—in business in Brazil. In addition to competitor analyses, students had to answer questions such as, “Is Brazil a viable market for this company?” or “What is the demand for U.S. vs. Brazilian brands?”

In Brazil, the courses have included site visits and interviews at companies such as Petrobas, a multinational energy corporation, and Coteminas, the largest textile firm in Brazil. In addition to meeting with students and faculty from Vanderbilt’s partner institution, University of São Paulo, the group has also enjoyed sessions with Coteminas’ CEO, Owen alumnus, and former Founder’s Medalist Josué Gomes de Silva (MBA ‘89).

GBA Immersion Trip

Each fall break, Owen’s Global Business Association offers a week-long immersion trip to an emerging market country where students have the chance to visit local businesses and institutions to learn business practices and etiquette specific to that country. In 2011, eighteen students, led by David Parsley, the E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Economics and Finance, and Mumin Kurtulus, assistant professor of operations, visited Istanbul, Turkey. A G20 economy with an 8% growth rate in 2010, Turkey’s geo-strategic importance to both the European and Asian continents made it a valuable case study of the future of global business in the twenty-first century.

In Istanbul, GBA students visited TurkCell, the country’s largest mobile phone company and the first Turkish company listed on the New York Stock Exchange; the internet provider MyNet; the Istanbul Stock Exchange; as well as two universities and a private equity firm. While students appreciated learning how Turkey’s marketing and financial services models differed from American approaches to business, they were particularly impressed by the vision these companies had for their future within the world economy. “It’s an emerging market,” according to one student participant, yet “they are incredibly forward thinking.”

Project Pyramid

Project Pyramid students playing games with Kenyan children

Project Pyramid, a student-founded initiative at Owen, is a model for interdisciplinary programs addressing complex problems. Inspired by the ideas of Nobel Peace Prize winner and Vanderbilt graduate Mohammed Yunus, Project Pyramid, now seven years old, uses three pillars—education, collaboration, and action—to work towards financially sustainable methods for poverty alleviation, focusing on stimulating economic growth “from the bottom up.” Originally developed by business students, the group is now comprised of students from business, divinity, education, law, nursing, and economics. The program has even led to a Certificate in Global Poverty Alleviation Studies for any Vanderbilt masters’ degree candidate who fulfills the multi-school coursework requirements. Project Pyramid’s spring break 2012 project took Vanderbilt graduate students and faculty to Kenya to create sustainable models to eliminate poverty, specifically focusing on micro financing.

Americas MBA

The Americas MBA for Executives is an alliance of four leading graduate business schools from Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States. Aimed at providing specialized knowledge and on-the-ground experience in the Americas, the program is a response to a growing need among companies and students for business instruction focused on issues specific to the region’s four largest economies. An added touch is that students graduate with an “MBA Alliance Certificate” jointly issued by the four schools of the program, as well as an MBA from his or her home school. Each cohort spends their first year at their home schools; in the second year students get the opportunity to rotate together on each participating campus for immersion in weeklong residencies that incorporate each locale’s cultural advantages and challenges.

In 2013, the second year students traveled to Simon Fraser University, Beedie School of Business in Vancouver, BC, Canada for their first special focus: cross-cultural management and global strategy. Joint study groups made up of students from each university will begin their year-long international strategy project.

In October, the traveled to FIA Business School (Fundação Instituto De Administração), São Paulo, Brazil to learn about sustainability, and global market product development, followed by of international trade and investments at ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México), Mexico City, Mexico in February.

The cohort concludes with the trip to Vanderbilt in April 2013 with a focus on new ventures for corporate growth and nurturing innovation.

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