Rehearsal for success

Global MBA Program at Friends University Readies Grads for International Business

Written by Joe Stumpe

It's a big world of business out there, full of opportunities and challenges. The Global MBA program at Friends University is designed to help graduates succeed in the field of international trade.

"The program was created in response to a need," says Dr. Valentina Chappell, professor of business and technology, who's directed the program since its inception in 2010. "There are a lot of MBA programs around Wichita and around the world, but as business has become global everywhere, that niche  foundational knowledge in international business  required immediate attention."

Autumn Drake, a 2012 grad, calls earning a Global MBA from Friends a game-changer in her career.

"I would say that, having not had that type of experience in my professional life [previously], it was like a dress rehearsal for what was to come," said Drake, a custom account manager at Textron Aviation.

Just how valuable was the program to what she does today? About 80 percent of the clients Drake deals with are from other nations.

One key component of the Friends program is a week-long residency abroad. China, Chile, Spain, South Africa and Canada are some of the nations where Global MBA candidates have been immersed in a foreign business climate. The residents meet with executives of at least eight companies during the trips, engage in roundtable discussions and gain exposure to the real world of international trade.

The sessions offer more than just information about business conditions in one part of the world. "It's also about how to behave, watch and observe," Dr. Chappell said. "How to communicate across different cultures."

Drake, whose residency was in Santiago, Chile, said she "still can't get over the people [Dr. Chappell] had in front of us. The organizations, the business owners were very powerful and influential people in Chile."

An aviation company, large retailer and winery owned by one of Chile's wealthiest families were among businesses Drake visited. The interaction is two-way, with both sides exchanging information. "We made some connections," Drake said. "It was pretty awesome."

The program is offered at Friends' Wichita campus and online. Most students take about two years to complete the program, which requires 28 credit hours in core subjects such as global finance and international marketing, and at least 12 hours in concentrations such as accounting and change management. Faculty include well-known business leaders Tim Shanfelt, Dr. Larry Straub and Ray Garvey. The Global MBA program was designed with input from an advisory board of top local businesspeople whose members often visit classes and serve as guest speakers.

Drake said the local networking opportunities provided by the program definitely helped propel her career. With smaller classes there's no shortage of opportunities in that regard.

"I know each student personally," said Dr. Chappell. That's what keeps me going  their successes and promotions.

 
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