B.C. MBAs Go Global With BRIC Partnerships

Apr 11, 2012

The following article was published by BC Business Magazine on April 2, 2012 as part of their MBA guide.


Local schools broaden their international focus to include Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Say “BRIC” to any economist, analyst or politician and the response will almost invariably be that the countries represented by the acronym – Brazil, Russia, India and China – will dominate the global economic landscape in coming years. Mention BRIC to local university deans and faculty heads, however, and the response is more varied. Given our location on the Pacific coast and the demographic makeup of B.C., local business schools have had long-standing relationships with institutions in China. Now, however, the other BRIC countries, particularly Brazil and India, have begun to enter the conversation.

Last November, as part of Premier Christy Clark’s trade mission to India, the Sauder School of Business and UBC opened offices in Bangalore and New Delhi and signed memoranda of understanding with the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. “Our new offices put UBC and Sauder on the ground in a country that will influence global economic growth for the next century,” says Sauder dean Daniel Muzyka. “India has some very strong indigenous post-secondary business schools,” he continues, “and their positioning has only been enhanced with the rapid development of the economy there.”

According to Muzyka, enrolment at post-secondary institutions in India will see unprecedented numbers in coming years and a presence on the ground in India will help UBC and Sauder build relationships with those schools. “We see it as a value exchange,” he explains. “The offices will help us manage the institutional relationships we’re developing in India, give us a portal to the student market in India, provide an opportunity for our faculty to learn and do research in new and developing environments and, as the market develops, provide opportunities for our students that want jobs in India.” Underlying his enthusiasm is the fact that applications to Sauder’s full-time MBA program from Indian-educated candidates now account for one-third of all applications, compared to just over one-tenth in 2007. A growing number are also now returning to live and work in India after graduation.

Ali Dastmalchian, dean of the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business and the Gill Graduate School, both at UVic, sees this new-found focus on India slightly differently. “We do have quite a bit of interest in the BRIC countries,” he acknowledges, “but our core interest is still in Southeast Asia.” Besides seeing Canada’s economy as a bridge between Asia – including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao – and other parts of the world, Dastmalchian believes our economic future lies there due to its geographic proximity and the direct links in identity that have been established over the past 20 years. He agrees with Muzyka’s approach to developing a presence in India, citing long-term, focused commitments as the key to success for both students and the school in any exchange relationship.

Such long-term commitments already exist between UBC and China. Sauder offers a 20-month program taught at the Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Muzyka believes that the new partnerships in India will be similarly successful. “We’re weaving the institutions together at multiple levels,” he says, “which ultimately lets you address needs in the marketplace quickly.”

Dastmalchian recognizes the need to prepare students for increasing globalization, wherever that may be. All MBA students at UVic are required to complete an International Integrative Management Exercise (IIME), which includes an exchange component to China, Brazil or India. “We want to train our grads, wherever they come from, to open their eyes to the world,” reasons Dastmalchian. The IIME is an intensive case study into a real issue put forth by a local company here in B.C. Months of research into the issue culminate in a 10- to 12-day data-collection trip to the target country; the students then return to present their findings and recommendations to the company. “Over the last 20 years, close to 90 of these projects have been completed,” Dastmalchian says proudly, “which is an incredible service to the Canadian economy.”

Amritpal Randhawa, who graduated from UVic’s MBA program in 2010, worked with a helicopter transport company looking to expand its operations in Brazil for his IIME. The experience led in part to his receiving the 2010 BC Export Award for International Business Studies. Inspired by his experience and a speech by Canada’s trade commissioner to Brazil acknowledging the importance of Canadian companies operating in global markets, he decided to pursue an international business specialization in the final year of his MBA.

Such specialisations and opportunities are increasingly important. For some, such as David Thomas, a professor at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, “the shift in geographic focus is a flavour-of-the-month thing. What’s more important is to focus on the international aspects of business. The opportunities to interact with people who are culturally different are now greater than they have ever been.”

Of the nine MBA programs offered in B.C., nearly all now offer an exchange program or partnership with at least one of the BRIC countries. “The general trend is that people want more global experience,” says Muzyka. “Some students want to be trained to simply operate better in a global business world; others have a desire to seek an accelerated career elsewhere; still others want to gain perspective in one part of the world and then look for opportunities in North America or Europe afterwards that will be enriched by their experiences.” In addition to UVic’s IIME projects in Brazil, China and India and UBC’s shiny new offices in India, SFU has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the India Institute of Management Indore to explore new research programs, exchanges and consulting and project opportunities.

Last September, the Segal Graduate School at SFU’s Beedie School of Business also launched the Americas MBA for Executives. SFU’s new partnership with the Fundação Instituto de Administração in São Paulo, the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in Mexico City and Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management in Nashville, Tennessee, means that from August 2012 to April 2013, 60 students will spend nine days in each of the three cities, learning about corporate social responsibility, emerging-markets strategies, international competition and how to foster innovation and launch new ventures within an organization. “We developed the program to meet the growing interest in north-south business and investment in the Americas,” says Colleen Collins, associate dean of Segal Graduate School. “Brazil is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and the U.S. and Mexico are important trading partners for Canada,” she continues.

Elsewhere in the province, Royal Roads has translated its MBA course material into Mandarin and is delivering it to students in more than 20 cities across China with the help of affiliate schools. It has already granted MBA degrees to more than 700 students in China. Similar arrangements exist for non-business faculties at UNBC, Thompson Rivers, Trinity Western and Vancouver Island U, which can only mean one thing: no matter which BRIC country you deem most important, MBA programs across the board will be looking both south and east in coming years.

See the full article at www.bcbusinessonline.ca/education/bc-mbas-go-global-bric-partnerships

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