You can’t change the world unless you experience it.
Being a global leader takes more than education. It takes cultural immersion, travel to foreign destinations, internships abroad, international study tours, international business competitions, new research and more. The Global Business Center at the University of Washington Foster School of Business has provided these opportunities for the past 20 years.
2010 marks the center’s 20th anniversary. A slew of international successes mark its legacy.
Founder and first faculty director of the Global Business Center, Dick Moxon says, “It’s very important to travel, to experience—even study tours for two weeks are eye opening for participants.” This philosophy sprung from this retired international business professor’s own experience teaching abroad and as a Peace Corps volunteer. Moxon helped launch the center via a US Department of Education grant in 1990 to develop global business expertise and international business programs for undergraduates, MBAs, the business community and faculty.
International competitive edge
As a result of Global Business Center, 46 percent of Foster MBA students study abroad each year through study tours and exchange programs. For undergraduate business majors at Foster, 30 percent currently study abroad each year. By 2014, the center plans to increase that to 50 percent. Nationally, only 10.1 percent of college undergraduates study abroad.
Nearly 1,000 students from 65 countries have competed in one of the Global Business Center competitions. Approximately 4,000 Foster students have studied abroad as part of the center’s efforts.
Jennifer Wallis (Foster MBA 1998) now works in London in a leadership role, covering the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands for a global financial institution. She traveled to Indonesia on the first MBA study tour in 1997, and reflects, “In two weeks time I learned more about the importance of international business than I did in any one class that I took at the university. Hearing perspectives from local business and then hearing the perspective of US companies doing business in foreign locations was fascinating.”
Experiential global learning
Today’s business students seek to make a difference, roll up their sleeves, solve genuine problems that leave a positive impact on society.
An example of progressive students making a global impact through local action is the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition which has recently seen a record-breaking number of entries and innovative business ventures. Global Business Center Director Kirsten Aoyama says, “…students from here and around the globe are submitting business ideas that can change the world and our [Seattle] business community is embracing their efforts.”
The 2010 winning team included a Rwandan business student who traveled outside of Rwanda for the first time to compete at the Foster School of Business. He and his medical student business partner created an LED light for rural communities that is eco-friendly and affordable, allowing Africans to read, study, cook and more without using harmful kerosene.
New million dollar future
With a $1.55 million grant renewal from the US Department of Education, the University of Washington Global Business Center will increase US competitiveness through new international business initiatives. Look for a Pacific Northwest workshop for businesss on best practices for working with China, a new energy conference and global health efforts.
“Twenty years ago, there weren’t the big issues we have today,” says Debra Glassman, current Global Business Center faculty director and senior lecturer in business economics. “Now global business is addressing issues such as climate change and global health and clean energy—those are huge topics. I feel that the change has made what we’re doing really interesting and timely.”
Providing tools and opportunities to solve real-world global problems and infusing international experience into the business community. Those are some of the Global Business Center’s successes over the past 20 years. The future? The sky’s the limit.