Business meetings in Colombia seldom begin promptly, said Dr. Kevin Fandl.
How does he know this? An Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, Fandl has studied in Colombia. He traveled there in 2006 as a Fulbright Scholar, taught there, investigated its informal economy, and even wrote his PhD dissertation on his experiences there.
“You never walk into a business meeting (in Colombia) and start on time,” Fandl said to a gathering of Global MBA students. “Small talk can go on for 90 percent of the meeting and, in the last 10 minutes, you need to make your points and sign your deal.
A host of distinguished guests spoke to Fox’s second-year Global MBA students Feb. 12-13 at Alter Hall, sharing wisdom and tips in a panel-discussion format during a two-day workshop in preparation for the students’ upcoming Global Immersion trips.
Divided equally into two groups, the 42 Global MBA students will spend two weeks in either the South American nations Colombia and Chile, or in Turkey and Morocco, of the Middle East/North African (MENA) region. While there, the students will meet representatives of local companies and firms, participate in case studies and learn the entrepreneurial ecosystems of what Fox’s Dr. MB Sarkar called “transitional economies.” Last year, this very cohort made Global Immersion trips to India and China, two of the most promising BRIC nations.
“Among the competencies that are relevant in today’s market, developing contextual intelligence is being rated as one of the most critical for MBAs,” said Fox School Dean Dr. M. Moshe Porat. “We at Fox believe that, in order to develop the next generation of global leaders, we need to learn from the innovative business models that are being seeded in these emerging markets.”
Sarkar, Fox’s Global Immersion Academic Director, and Rebecca Geffner, Fox School’s Director of International and Executive Program, assembled dynamic panels with marquee guests related to both the Latin America and MENA regions.
- Ahmet Kindap, of Turkey’s Ministry of Development
- Marwan Kreidie, Founder and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Arab American Development Corporation
- Z. Joe Kulenovic, an international economist
- Christian Rodriguez, Consul-General of Colombia
- Laura Ebert, International Trade Specialist with the United States Department of Commerce and International Trade Administration
- Ali Solyu, of Cameron University in Oklahoma, and Ipek University, in Ankara
Sarkar and Geffner kicked off the two-day event with opening remarks, discussing the importance of immersing oneself into the culture and business practices of the countries they’ll visit, while offering insights into what the Global MBA students might expect during their travels.
Fandl served as moderator on a guest-speaker panel into the history, culture and politics of Latin America, of which Rodriguez and Kulenovic were guests. The panel informed students about the business climates and entrepreneurial ecosystems of Colombia and Chile. Fandl and Rodriguez offered the graduate students advice on conduct and decorum in a business atmosphere, while introducing themselves to professionals.
“In Chile and Colombia, know about their food, wine, culture, weather and definitely know your (soccer) teams,” Fandl said.
“Chileans and Colombians know when you are telling the truth about yourselves,” said Rodriguez. “Know your story and be comfortable. That will help you out 70 percent.”
Other guests on the panel included: Mitchell Mandell, attorney at White & Williams LLP, and Laura Ebert, International Trade Specialist with the United States Department of Commerce and International Trade Administration.
Later on Day 1, Global MBA Academic Director Dr. TL Hill presided over a panel discussion into the business climate and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the MENA region. The panel featured: Kreidie; Jean Abinader, COO of the Moroccan American Center and National Association of Arab Americans; Kindap from the Turkish Government and Joe Kulenovic, a consultant with the World Bank who is researching how cities in emerging countries become globally competitive.
The speakers conveyed to Global MBA students a pervasive gender inequality issue, mentioning the infrequency with which women are integrated into the workforce. Guests on the panel also suggested that international trade has significant growth potential in both Turkey and Morocco, which are natural bridge countries due to their geographic positions.
Porat and Deputy Dean Dr. Rajan Chandran provided keynote addresses. Additionally, Chandran will join Global MBA students, Sarkar and Geffner in Morocco for a one-day entrepreneurship conference being organized in partnership with Al Akhawayn University in Casablanca, as part of the Global Immersion experience.
“Our sincere hope is that this conference will become a seed for Fox’s intellectual engagement in the region, and our contribution to helping the local economies grow,” Chandran said.
Global MBA student Emily Fox, who majored in Spanish as an undergraduate, chose the Global Immersion trip through Colombia and Chile for obvious reasons.
“In the future, I see myself conducting business in a Spanish-speaking country, so I wanted to be exposed to how negotiations are handled in those countries,” said Fox, who is slated to graduate in May.
During the information sessions, students were asked to “prep now,” so they could immediately take advantage of the experience once their flights had landed.
“You have to get to know the people, figure out your target and set an idea of what you wish to accomplish,” Rodriguez said.
For Global MBA student Andy Oakes, learning about contrasting business practices and emerging global markets are the benefits of gaining international field experience.
“Long-term I’d like to work outside the United States in technology consulting,” Oakes said. “It’s important in the globalized economy that exists today to become immersed in multiple cultures.”
“Global Immersions are an extension on the program,” said Neeharka Damea, another Global MBA student. “The opportunity to experience multicultural backgrounds was the reason why I chose the Fox Global MBA program.”