Executive Education

How the McDonough School of Business Prepares Leaders for Global Careers

global career

These days, most business schools like to tout their global educational options.

But Georgetown McDonough got there first: pioneering the global business education experience for upwards of two decades. Today at McDonough, MBA students enjoy an unprecedented level of access to the school’s world-renowned faculty across a variety of industries. In fact, about 40 percent of McDonough’s faculty are international—a perfect complement to the student body, about one-third of the Full-time and Evening MBA classes come from 46 countries around the world.

“We want students who have the ability to make an impact on society globally as well as here at home,” Shari Hubert, associate dean of MBA admissions at Georgetown McDonough tells Ivy Exec. “Most schools have some level of global experiential learning — it’s not new anymore. But at Georgetown, we pioneered it close to 20 years ago.  We have a strong reputation as a global business program, and we aspire to become known as the premier destination for global business education. That’s our mindset. We believe that business has no borders.” Hubert adds that post-graduation, successful leadership requires a comprehensive understanding of other cultures, viewpoints and business practices around the world. “Regardless of whether they are working in Mumbai or Indiana…We’re preparing them for careers in an ever-shrinking world,” says Hubert.

Hubert recalls how a recent MBA graduate, Albert Fonticella ’13, embodies this need for a global perspective. Fonticella is currently the director of corporate development for Edward Marc Chocolatier. Although he is based in Pittsburgh, he needs to have a nuanced understanding of how global cocoa prices can fluctuate and the impact that has on his supply chain as well as his distribution efforts to 40,000 retailers across the U.S. and in six countries around the globe.

“He’s a great example of developing a global ready leader,” Hubert says.

But why does the global business experience really matter beyond being an impressive talking point for the school? Wouldn’t it be better to simply continue working in the real world and climbing the corporate ladder without pausing for more education?

“Business school is a microcosm of real life. It’s two or three years that push you out of your comfort zone and accelerate your learning through interactions,” Hubert says. “Business school provides an exposure to globally diverse perspectives that you may not have the opportunity to be exposed to otherwise. You also have the opportunity to be taught by world-renowned faculty who have researched the issues you deal with on a day to day basis or have worked with organizations on issues you have not had exposure to that will enhance your learning, enhance your thought leadership and enhance your technical skills.”

To that end, Hubert names a few of McDonough’s top faculty who closely interact with McDonough’s students.

Take, for example, Reena Aggarwal, the Director of the Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy. An expert on corporate governance, IPOs and global financial markets, Aggarwal serves on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Financing and Capital and has consulted for the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations, to name a few.

“She’s regularly advised governments like India, China, Vietnam. She also regularly briefs Congress on what’s happening in the markets,” Hubert says, noting that without becoming an MBA student at Georgetown, it would be highly unlikely for a person to ever have access to these leading minds of industry. And, significantly, learning from the experiences of professors like Aggarwal can be enormously educational.

Another example is Bill Novelli, cofounder of Porter Novelli and former CEO of AARP, among other roles. He leads the school’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative, where he advocates for cross-sector collaboration to solve the world’s most pressing issues.

“Professor Novelli works on projects ranging from helping the elderly use technology to help them age well in their homes to helping individuals with disabilities find jobs to reducing conflict and supporting economic growth in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria,” Hubert says. “And, he does all of this with a team of MBA students helping, providing an experience like none other.”

And now, for the first time in the history of the McDonough School of Business, anyone from around the world can enroll in an online version of the program’s capstone course called Global Business in Practice. This MOOC, or Massive Online Open Course, launched for the first time this October. “Since it has gone live, Hubert says the MOOC has had more than 5,000 registrants from 156 countries.”

Ricardo Ernst, Professor of Operations and Director of the Global Business Initiative, is at the helm of this unique educational innovation. In addition to featuring his lectures, both the MBA course and the MOOC will include interviews with world business leaders such as Fabrizio Freda, President and CEO of Estée Lauder, Joe Baratta, Global Head of Private Equity for Blackstone and Mark del Rosso, Executive Vice President and COO of Audi of America.

“Today’s graduate students want to embrace technology as part of the classroom,” Hubert said. “They expect a more enriching and dynamic experience. They want to learn about theory from academics, but also real-world challenges from the most successful business leaders…Our new hybrid MBA course and its corresponding MOOC required us to envision the future of higher education and deliver it now.”

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