Ever since the impact of the pandemic transformed how we went about living, and indeed, learning, the McIntire School swiftly adjusted to not simply make the most of the situation, but also to find inventive ways of incorporating the virtual format to its students’ advantage.
In 2020, that fully online transition meant launching a new type of Global Immersion Experience (GIE) in the M.S. in Commerce to overcome the barriers presented by halting the graduate program’s traditional spring semester overseas travel component. The resulting coursework created by faculty has brought an impressive amount of real-world input to students in the program, delivering the trademark global educational experience for which McIntire is known.
To provide a thorough appreciation of the context in which business occurs, GIE 2021 offered students the choice of two selections from three regional seminar courses and four topic seminars.
Regional seminars included Business, Politics, and Culture in Southeast Asia (taught by Professor Trey Maxham); Evolution and Future Relevance of the European Union (taught by Professor Ira Harris); and Rising China: Assets and Obstacles to Becoming a Global Superpower (taught by Professor Jim Burroughs).
For the topical seminars, Global Sustainability Solutions (taught by Professor Kerrie Carfagno); Investing in the Global Economy (taught by Professor Mike Gallmeyer); Purpose, Power, and Pay: International Corporate Governance (taught by Professor Amanda Cowen); and Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets (taught by Professor Bevin Etienne) comprised the GIE selection.
With more than 50 speakers, which included many alumni, parents, board members, and friends of the Commerce School from around the world, the seven GIE courses gave students invaluable access to impactful global insights by important figures working in critical sectors. Their voices—and the students’ interaction with the contributors—made all the difference in the educational experience, giving an essential view of the current context and real-world applications and issues for the many forces shaping today’s global economy.
Return GIE speaker Marisa Drew (McIntire ‘86), Chief Sustainability Officer at Credit Suisse, was excited to have another opportunity to talk about her work with students in Carfagno’s Global Sustainability Solutions and Gallmeyer’s Investing in the Global Economy courses. She says that the exchange was encouraging both for the future of the Commerce School and the health of the planet.
“I was impressed by the level of engagement and the quality of questions coming from the students. My hope for this generation is that they will be able to play a major role in solving the world’s most intractable problems—and the first step to success is education and awareness. It is wonderful to see McIntire showing leadership in this regard.”
Hailey Eaves (M.S. in Commerce ’21), who says that the GIE courses expanded her perspective by showing the responsibilities she has in order to create a positive impact through business, reflected on the discussion with Drew and topics that touched on the importance of business decisions on populations and the environment. “Nothing in the business world takes place in a vacuum. Marisa Drew brought this idea home for me when she asked, ‘What do you want your legacy to be?’”
Alice Tomdio (M.S. in Accounting ’09), Head of Finance with software payment service Paystack in Nigeria, was uniquely qualified to speak to issues related to finance in Africa for Gallmeyer’s course, and she was excited for the session, reconnecting with students to relay her own experiences.
“McIntire empowered and inspired me to create a career path that I wanted for myself; I am forever indebted to the professors and broader McIntire community for that. So I revel in any opportunity I get to discuss my journey since McIntire, particularly in Africa, which I am super passionate about and where I am doing my best work, and to engage with students by listening and learning about what’s currently top of mind for them.”
Billy Qi (M.S. in Commerce ’21) found the courses and the choice of speakers engaging, crediting Gallmeyer and Burroughs with their efforts every step of the way. “All selected topics were relevant to the context of contemporary global business, and the speakers were keen and knowledgeable on the subject matters, sparking profound discussions and professional insights in class. I enjoyed the comprehensive approach that the GIE courses took to inspire students to think from different perspectives, which will be a valuable experience for me to reflect on later in my career.”
Alexis Piornack (M.S. in Commerce ’21), who studied in Shanghai as an undergrad and is aiming to use her Mandarin to develop a career in China or Greater China, remarked on two Hong Kong-based speakers who spoke in the Rising China and International Corporate Governance courses: Tatman Savio (A&S ’00), Partner, International Trade at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Global Advisory Board member Matt O’Neill (McIntire ’99), COO/CAO, Banking at Citi (Asia Pacific).
“I found Matt’s presentation to be super informative, giving in-depth information about Citibank’s operations in Hong Kong and its strategy to adapt to the changing landscapes of digital payments and cryptocurrencies. Tatman did a great job of tying together the content we had been discussing during the weeks leading up to her visit, and it was a special opportunity to ask questions to someone who has a strong background in the issues that were relevant to our course.”
Thomas Lindemann (M.S. in Commerce ’21), whose interest in real estate will bring him to Doha, Qatar, this summer—thanks to a McIntire alumnus connection—also enjoyed learning about Chinese capital markets in Gallmeyer’s course.
“Hearing the experience and insights from alumni that spanned from their childhood in China to investing in China today gave me a new and more holistic perspective on Chinese markets and the PRC’s role in the global world in which I will build my career.”
Perhaps the only downside of the virtual visits was the more abbreviated meetings due to time constraints. Return speaker and McIntire Global Advisory Board member Andrej Kiska (McIntire ’09), who has been a speaker at GIE since 2015, served as a contributor to Harris’s Evolution and Future Relevance of the European Union course. The Partner at Credo Ventures had previously helped to arrange company visits in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but this virtual engagement with Comm School students proved productive, if not all too brief.
“Over the years, many speakers have shared privately with me how impressed they were by the students and quality of their questions. My own experience as a speaker was similar: Each year, it is a very interactive conversation that I seem to always wish would last longer.”
Despite the brief time with the students, both the speakers and students benefited greatly from the interactions. Ultimately, the contributors’ experiences—including very recent ones—were teachable examples of thriving within the global business landscape.
“If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that being nimble and embracing new ways of doing business can propel companies to industry leadership,” says Sami Siddiqui (McIntire ’07), President, Americas at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, who spoke to Maxham’s students in Southeast Asia course. “I was impressed that McIntire’s GIE was similarly able to adapt and bring the rich content of a global immersion curriculum to a virtual setting. The students saw up close that emerging global trends, particularly from Southeast Asia, are ever present in the local businesses and brands they interact with every day. This awareness will take them even further as business leaders and global citizens.”
To find out more about alumni, parent, and friends engagement in our global courses and supporting McIntire’s Global Programs, contact Darci Spuck, Director of Global Alumni, Parent & Friend Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.