Editor’s note: This commentary by Mourad Dakhli, director of the Master of International Business program at Georgia State University, is published as part of an annual sponsorship of Global Atlanta by the Robinson College of Business and the Georgia State CIBER.
With recent disruptions in global supply chains, tariff disputes and calls for supply network transparency, it’s no wonder that supply chain and logistics skills are increasingly requested by hiring companies, especially in major logistics hubs like Atlanta.
Georgia State University’s Master of International Business (MIB) program is listening. We have upgraded our award-winning one-year program to offer new specializations: Global Supply Chain and Logistics beginning in Fall 2021 and Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Fall 2022.
The new supply chain focus is especially timely in light of COVID-19-related logistical delays impacting companies worldwide. Hiring managers are telling us that supply chain experts are increasingly needed to address these challenges.
“We have seen a shift from marketing and sales execs to supply chain and sourcing leaders becoming CEOs because of their ability to make moves happen in any situation and have a positive impact on the bottom line of the company,” said Mary Lyle, director of procurement at Terrasoul Superfoods, who graduated from GSU’s MIB program in 2013.
The new supply chain specialization will be distinguished by the MIB program’s diversity of teachers and their experiences, Ms. Lyle added. “At the end of the day, you can read a textbook, but context and real-life experience are invaluable, as are [the program’s] networking and connections.”
While many master’s degrees are heavily academic and time-consuming, students learn as much in GSU’s one-year MIB program as they would working for a company.
Our practical program, which was ranked #16 in the United States and #26 in North America, provides experiential learning with practitioners in the field, virtual exchange projects with partner universities and companies abroad, and a capstone international experience – which is expected to be in-person in the coming year.
The 11-month MIB program includes 10 modules over two “mini-mesters” of eight weeks each in the fall and two more in the spring. During the summer, students take a special topics course that is designed to include timely and cutting-edge international business topics, such as crisis management and innovation across borders, and complete a field study or consulting project for a company.
Our MIB program is distinctive in its linkages with the business community; we bring 40-60 guest speakers from local companies to meet with our students and share real-world experiences.
The interactive program is known for providing hands-on business experience. This past year, students worked with companies in London and Berlin to develop appropriate modes of entry into the U.S. market. Others helped U.S. companies enter markets in Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Vietnam and more.
In addition to courses and consulting projects, MIB students have access to a rich portfolio of professional development workshops, ranging from “emotional intelligence and resilience” and “effective teaming” to “effective communications” and “networking and career skills.”
All enrolled students become members of the World Affairs Council of Atlanta to engage in networking opportunities, and all receive Global Atlanta e-newsletters.
The 2022 specialization in Entrepreneurship and Innovation comes at the request of our participating companies and prospective students. When the one-year MIB program began in 2012, most incoming students reported wanting to work for large corporations. Now, some 40 percent of our incoming cohort say they eventually want to start their own businesses or work in entrepreneurial positions within companies.
Companies are increasingly seeking employees who are “willing to pursue new areas of opportunity,” according to Don Williams, CEO of Princeton Healthcare and International Advisory Board member at GSU’s J. Macon Robinson College of Business. He added that recent graduates who have been exposed to the challenges of international business are essential for global companies like his.
Employees who bring global awareness, entrepreneurial perspective and innovative ideas to help companies solve complex problems, maintain a competitive edge and grow internationally “will be in high demand,” Mr. Williams said. “I am not aware of any universities in the USA that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation from a global perspective; that makes GSU’s MIB program quite unique.”
Students, too, see the benefits of the MIB program and are looking forward to the entrepreneurship specialization. Current student Andrew Reid said that the practical experience of doing international business and research with students from Israel, India and South Africa and developing business proposals for real companies has been the most impactful part of the program.
“Quite literally, we were handed the keys and given the opportunity to make a direct impact with foreign small- and medium-sized corporations,” he said. He added that the entrepreneurship/innovation certification will help him with “formulating ideas into practical answers” for starting sports diplomacy and travel guide ventures.
For the new specialization certificates, we will continue to utilize our growing alumni network to invite guest speakers and organize company visits abroad. MIB students participate in a number of study abroad programs including those to Morocco and South Africa. Dubai is one of our study abroad destinations where we currently have at least three alumni, one of whom started his own business and others who work for prominent organizations there.
Regardless of which new specialization certificate an MIB student earns, he or she must be data-competent. Thus, we have linked up with the GSU library to offer a self-paced data and analysis certification as an exit requirement for the MIB program. This certificate goes into graduates’ LinkedIn profiles and helps them build career bridges with alumni and employers.
MIB alumni are now working around the world in places like Brazil, Canada, France, India, Korea, the Netherlands, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and more. This growing portfolio of alumni provides each new cohort of students with invaluable connections for future employment and advice.
The new structure of the MIB program is flexible to adjust to the needs of our students and our corporate partners. The certification programs will be opportunities for students to gain in-depth knowledge and experience in areas that are in high demand in the international business world, while also gaining a solid foundation in skills that are relevant to any business career.
In addition to the 2021 global supply chain focus and the 2022 entrepreneurship track, we expect to add a new specialization each year or two. Future additions may include advanced data and analytics and global human resources/talent management.
Whether you are looking to change careers or add skills and experience to enhance your current career, we are accepting applications from every walk of life. The completion of a one-week, online foundations module is required prior to entry into the MIB program in August.
Learn more at https://robinson.gsu.edu/program/master-international-business/, and apply with Gharbeela Sami: [email protected]