Albert Einstein was bang on target when he said,“Our separation from each other is a cosmic illusion of consciousness”.Such is the level of integration in the current global economy that today globalization and internationalization are almost as real as the laws of nature. As free movement of capital, goods, and people picked up, countries began positioning themselves based on their strengths and needs. Akio Morita, who made Sony an international giant, said decades back,“Think Globally, Act Locally”.
The 21stcentury has cemented internationalizationlargely, thanks to the proliferation of new technologies. Instantaneous sharing of information, technological innovation, and improvements in transportation modes have facilitated business functions like sales and marketing, manufacturing, and supply chain. Moreover, financial innovation and more derivative products have allowed for the hurdle of currency risk to be managed effectively.
This trend has made new demands on management professionals keen to grow their careers. International experience is considered a prerequisite for leadership positions but some basic capabilities constitute a precondition for even having access to international opportunities.
Considering this opportunity and market need, the academia has responded with specialized International Business (IB) programs. International Business graduates of these programs are hired by MNCs;businesses involved in foreign trade; government agencies and public institutions; international relief organizations; diplomatic missions; trade blocks;international organizations like the IMF, World Bank, and WTO;and organized environmental protection groups. The complex business dynamics that these types of organizations are faced with require their managers to possess specific skill sets that the programs help to develop. The additional and specific training has helped graduates find career opportunities across the spectrum in Finance and Accounting, Marketing, Transportation and Logistics, and Management Information Systems.
So what are these required skills that specialized programs help imbibe? According to Dr. Faisal Ahmed, Chairman of the International Business Area at FORE School of Management, New Delhi, they include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Understanding of the impact of globalization on business and society
- Ability to adapt to cross-cultural contexts and diversity related challenges
- Multi-disciplinary knowledge base for better managerial decision-making at global level
- Knowledge about strategic issues, trade blocs,WTO, geopolitical issues and key challenges facing developing countries
- Willingness to travel extensively and to work abroad
- Developing specialised skills based on interest in either marketing, finance, HR and operations domains in a global context
- A working knowledge in any major foreign language
Apart from these skills, the programs specifically focus on helping students to:
- Analyse and evaluate the issues that arise out of the greater integration of the Indian economy and businesses with the global environment
- Identify and describe the implications of trends within international business for Indian corporate houses
- Identify and respond appropriately to differences in business culture and ethics in the international business arena
- Use a range of practical tools and techniques to conduct international business
- Demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to gain employment in the corporate sector or in family businesses globally
- Identify and evaluate options to develop strategies in international business situations
- Identify potential opportunities in the global market
Speaking about FORE’s approach, Dr. Ahmed says, “We update our curriculum on a regular basis to incorporate the latest global developments, and provide opportunities to students to engage in various co-curricular activities.Moreover, we have two specialised platforms namely, the Centre for Emerging Markets (CEM) and a special interest group known as FORE International Business Forum (IBF) which provides an enhanced learning environment involving active student participation”.Besides, all students in their second year of the IB program have to do a Dissertation. Dr. Ahmed asserts that “the dissertation addresses a specialised theme related to international business and further enriches their domain knowledge”.
A good IB program focused on International Business covers specific modules, electives, and courses from all possible realms that offer international opportunities. This helps students to tap opportunities across the board: International Finance (cross-border M&A, foreign exchange management, and fundraising), International Marketing, International Operations (logistics, supply chain, and off-shoring), or International HRM (managing diversity).
Interestingly, there are several new courses being offered by the international business program at FORE. To name a few, they are WTO and International Trade Policy, Commercial Geography, Trade Data and Trade Opportunities, Business in Asia Pacific, and Trade and Geopolitics, among others.Dr. Ahmed also emphasizes on a research-basedteaching methodology where inputs for students are gleaned from latest research papers and publications in the field. Case studies are also utilized to ensure that all possible perspectives are understood by the students.
The international business environment is challenging – let’s prepare for it!