In June, the first cohort of students in the McIntire School of Commerce’s innovative, new M.S. in Global Commerce Program—the Global 3 Program—will graduate with two exceptional degrees and a certificate from three top-ranked business schools, plus an amazing network of classmates, business leaders, professors, and alumni from all over the world.
Offered by the McIntire School in partnership with two renowned business schools—ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain, and Lingnan (University) College at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China—the one-year program allows students to earn an M.S. in Global Commerce from McIntire, an M.S. in Global Strategic Management from ESADE, and a certificate in International Business from Lingnan. The immersive experiences are a keystone of the program, allowing students to develop the skills needed to thrive in a global business environment.
For this year’s inaugural class, the Global 3 Program admitted 60 students from 14 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia—all recent college graduates with business degrees—who live, study, and work together for the duration of the program. Students spent their first 15 weeks of the program at McIntire, where coursework focused on developing skills in global strategic management. During Term 2, they studied global project financing and operations at Lingnan, and are concluding their course of study with 15 weeks at ESADE, where the emphasis is on global innovation and alliances.
“By working in multicultural teams throughout the program, including a year-long thesis project, students explore the complexities of doing business from the North American, European, and Asian perspectives, while simultaneously immersed in three perspective-shifting international environments,” says McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml. “We aim to provide students with a high-impact educational experience that helps them develop the critical global competencies needed to succeed in today’s complex, dynamic global economy. With this program, McIntire, ESADE, and Lingnan break new ground. It’s the right kind of program for today’s business world.”
Unique Curriculum with a Global Perspective
The intense and challenging Global 3 Program is focused on the acquisition of real-world business skills and competencies. Cross-cultural communication and teamwork skills are fully integrated into a rigorous curriculum that simultaneously builds students’ analytical and technical business skills.
During Term 1 at McIntire, for example, students undertook a capstone project incorporating the concepts they studied in courses “Doing Business in the U.S.,” “Cross-Cultural Management & Communication,” and “Analysis for Decision-Making in a Global Context.” Adopting the roles of consultants to earth-restorative, tree-free paper company Vastly (a U.S.-based subsidiary of Chinese paper company Shandong Tranlin Paper), the students developed persuasive recommendations for top-level company executives about how Vastly, with its proprietary, disruptive technologies and products, could break into distribution channels and retail already saturated with more traditional and powerful brands.
“The Vastly project allowed Global 3 students to gain—and showcase—a high level of understanding and appreciation of the challenges and opportunities involved when a foreign company enters the U.S. market to sell its goods and services,” says Marketing Professor Trey Maxham, who teaches “Doing Business in the U.S.” “After completing situational analysis; brand inventory; and brand exploration—which required the students to conduct social analytics, qualitative research, and data mining—the student teams pitched powerful strategic solutions for how the Vastly brand could be effectively managed over the next two years.”
The students made live presentations to Vastly Chairman and CEO Jerry Peng (Darden ’03); Senior Vice President John Stacey (A&S ’76); and Director of Strategic Development & Corporate Secretary Yue Zhu (Darden ’14), who visited the class in December. Planning, engineering, design, and staffing are under way for the construction of Vastly’s earth-friendly manufacturing facility in Chesterfield, Va., and is expected to create 2,000 jobs in the region by 2020.
McIntire faculty also took great care to incorporate other real-world experiences into the program’s curriculum. Sun Yat-sen graduate Zhuoyun Zheng (M.S. in Global Commerce ’17) describes the cohort’s visit to federal agencies in Washington, D.C., including the FDA and the SEC as eye-opening. “It gave us an overview of how U.S. government organizations work,” Zheng says.
As part of the course, students also visited Richmond, Virginia’s capital city, to examine business and the importance of foreign investment in the state. They heard from representatives from several state agencies and business organizations, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Port of Virginia, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
“The Richmond visit encouraged us to consider the role we, as future business leaders, can play in promoting and supporting globalization in our respective home countries and around the world,” says Wake Forest University graduate Grace McLarty (M.S. in Global Commerce ’17). Both the D.C. and Richmond visits, like the Vastly case, she adds, highlighted the government’s role in supporting and regulating foreign business operation.
The students will complete similar courses—“How to do Business in China” and “How to do Business in the E.U.”—during their studies at the partner schools.
Early Return on Investment
Global 3 students also are finding that working effectively on culturally diverse teams is highly valued not only by the McIntire School, ESADE, and Lingnan, but also by recruiters. Sierra Prochna (M.S. in Global Commerce ’17), interested in a leadership development position that would allow her to work globally, quickly discovered that the extensive multicultural teamwork experience offered by the Global 3 Program would be attractive to potential employer Rolls-Royce.
“Rolls-Royce values both the ability to work well in teams and global mobility in its employees,” she says. “With operations in 50 countries, the company has multicultural teams everywhere, and candidates must be willing—and able—to work on them.”
With just three months of the Global 3 Program under her belt, Prochna was able to discuss with Rolls-Royce recruiters the immensely valuable teamwork experience she’s gaining as well as global insights she would learn from immersive experiences in China and Spain. “To my delight, I was offered the job,” she says. “I believe that the program enabled me to be the right fit for the position. I think I can speak for my fellow classmates when I say I’m quite sure we’ll look back with gratitude for all of the preparation the program has given us.”
Auburn University graduate Drake Pooley (M.S. in Global Commerce ’17) reported similar job-search success after completing just five weeks of the Global 3 Program. “I received a job offer from A.T. Kearney in New York City, an opportunity I wouldn’t have had except for this program,” he says, noting that the global management consulting firm recruits at only six universities, including UVA. “I arrived on UVA’s campus Sept. 2 and got a job offer Oct. 8. I think that speaks volumes about the support offered by the Commerce Career Services office.”
Stepping Out of Their Comfort Zones
In his remarks to Global 3 students at the program’s first session at McIntire last September, Zeithaml called the students “adventurers and pioneers” and praised them for their willingness to try something new. It’s that adventuresome spirit and openness to new experiences, he said, that will ultimately make it possible for the program to transform their lives.
Inês Galamba de Oliveira (M.S. in Global Commerce ’17), of Portugal, says she chose the Global 3 Program because she was looking for a way to move out of her comfort zone. “When I was growing up, my comfort zone was Lisbon,” she says. “When I moved to England and interned in Switzerland and Spain, my comfort zone expanded to include Europe. My hope is that when I complete the global program, my comfort zone will reach around the world.”
Na Na (M.S. in Global Commerce ’17), who completed her undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University and is originally from Shijiazhuang, China, says that after only a few weeks at McIntire, she was “absolutely sure” she had made the right decision to apply to the program. “Not only do I have the chance to study at top business schools in the United States, China, and Spain, but I’ve also realized how much I’m learning from my classmates, since we represent such a variety of backgrounds,” she says.
“The experience has been a great way to learn about successfully operating in different business environments,” she adds. “As companies become more global, doing business in cross-cultural settings is inevitable. The ability to step out of your comfort zone, to be flexible about different work settings, and to be confident about unexpected challenges will be extremely important for being a business leader in the future.”
“Where else do you get to live, work, and learn from 40 international peers every day for a year?” Pooley says of the Global 3 Program. “Business is only becoming more global, and, as I think about my long career ahead of me, I want to have as many global skills mastered as early as possible.”