Executive MBAs go global

March 21, 2013

By Frank Radosevich II

Today’s economy has gone global. And so does Bradley’s Executive MBA Program.

Fourteen students with the Theresa S. Falcon Executive MBA Program traveled to China this month to meet with top business leaders and to see firsthand how business is conducted in the growing Asian economy.

During the 11-day trip, students learned to appreciate nuances of doing business at an international level, knowledge crucial to success that is rarely taught in a classroom.

“To have a solid understanding of business today, you need to understand the global business environment,” said Susannah Gawor, director of MBA and Executive MBA programs in the Foster College of Business. “China is the second largest economy of the world. Our EMBA students need to have an understanding of China if they are going to be global business leaders.”

The Executive MBA students prepared for the intensive trip by examining the economic, socio-cultural and workplace environments of China. The course also required the students to research, plan and conduct their own solo company visit as well as collaborate with an engineering firm, Shandong Engineering Machinery, for a consulting project on exporting track-type tractors to India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“We really did an in-depth study of the country’s business, culture and history before even setting foot in Beijing,” said EMBA student Chris Arrasmith, director of information technology for Afni in Bloomington-Normal, Ill.

The program traveled first to Beijing and then to Chinese commercial capital Shanghai. Along the way, students visited several companies, spending their time with executives at Air China, Lenovo and China Merchant Bank. At each visit, the group learned how these businesses operate in China and with the government.

The trip, a requirement of Bradley’s 15-month EMBA program, exposes students to the epicenter of emerging markets. Past classes have traveled to China, India, Dubai and Turkey.

EMBA student Lesley Matuszak, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Peoria, said at first she didn’t see the use in traveling overseas for her master’s degree since her nonprofit work is local. Her outlook quickly changed after the trip offered her a new perspective on running and managing an organization.

“I’m looking at my organization with a fresh set of eyes,” she said. “We weren’t just tourists on the trip. It pushed us out of our comfort zones.”

Arrasmith said the tour opened his eyes to the sheer size and potential of the global marketplace. During the visit at Air China, students met with the airline’s general director of marketing where he fielded their questions. Arrasmith said Bradley’s EMBA program gave him the expertise he needed for such a high-level meeting.

“I was totally comfortable and prepared thanks to the tools given to me by the EMBA program,” he said.