“Go abroad, young man and woman” isn’t the motto for the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, but it might as well be. The school offers a slate of master’s programs that may be the most globally oriented in the United States, a travel trifecta: McIntire’s M.S. in Commerce, M.S. in Global Commerce, and M.S. in Accounting each feature significant study-abroad components, from one week to more than 20, with footprints in locales that range from the cobblestones of Old Europe’s capitals to the glittering towers of Dubai.
Why so travel-heavy? Deeply ingrained in the school’s philosophy, says Peter Maillet, associate dean for global affairs and director of the McIntire Center for Global Commerce, is this: The inputs that go into business — the resources, financial capital, labor, and knowledge capital — are all inherently global. The global financial system, in other words, is a completely global thing.
“Our view really is that you can’t credibly graduate from a business school if you don’t have a global perspective and a global understanding of those inputs and outputs,” says Maillet, a global strategy and finance professor who “looks after all of our global stuff that we do here at McIntire” in both undergraduate and graduate programs. “Because even if you’re a very domestic or apparently a very domestic business, your supply chain is probably much more impacted by international forces than you understand. The cost of your capital is impacted by that. Your competitors may very well be coming from outside your home market and therefore are being subjected to different forces, and so forth and so on.”
NEW PERSPECTIVES IN DIFFERENT REGIONS
McIntire’s master’s program that offers the most international experience is also the youngest of the three. The M.S. in Global Commerce, now in its third year, offers students two master’s degrees and one certificate across three continents. Along with partner institution ESADE Business School, in Barcelona, Spain, and Sun Yat-sen University’s Lingnan College in Guangzhou, China, McIntire gives about 60 students a rigorous year-long journey across three continents, after which they have earned master’s degrees from both UVA and ESADE and a certificate in international business from Lingnan. In total, students spend about 22 weeks outside the U.S., “living together, taking courses together, learning from the wonderful professors at each university, but also continuing to learn from each other,” Maillet tells Poets&Quants. “And so each of the three partner universities brings a little bit different approach to education to a certain extent, a little bit of different expertise in terms of what we focus on. But what’s really so innovative about it is that these same 60 students are together traveling, living, working for the entire year, building — as you can imagine — very, very close relationships, but importantly, learning from each other.”
McIntire’s flagship M.S. program, its Master in Commerce, is a Master in Management program that was ranked No. 2 by The Economist in 2017. Integral to the 40-credit program is the Global Immersion Experience, a faculty-led, multi-week trip to the boardrooms, manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and markets of a region. The GIE is fully 20% of the entire program. Locations change annually; the 120-person cohort is divided into six groups of 20 who then spread out across the globe on separate tracks. Maillet says that for the last three years he has accompanied groups to China, but this May he will join students as they embark to the United Arab Emirates, India, and Nepal. It’s fun, he says, and exciting; each experience gives participants new perspective on companies and key organizations in each region, as well as opportunities to experience local culture and connect with University of Virginia alums.
“We want to make sure that there’s time for students to just explore and get out in the cities that we visit, time for cultural visits,” Maillet says. “Obviously if we’re in Beijing, we’re going to go see the Great Wall. If we’re in Delhi, we’re going to go see the Taj Mahal. So we make sure that the iconic cultural visits are happening as well.
“In the case of the M.S. in Commerce program, that is indeed the culminating experience of the entire program. In other words, the students actually don’t come back to Charlottesville.” They are, Maillet explains, set loose upon the world. “When GIE concludes, they have finished their program. It really is the punctuation mark, if you will, on the entire graduate program.”
The third degree in McIntire’s travel trio is the M.S. in Accounting, which offers a class titled Accounting, Finance & Financial Management in Europe, a spring break trip to London focused on doing business in the UK and EU. Accounting students also have the option to participate in one of McIntire’s Global Commerce Immersion courses.
ONE STUDENT’S EXPERIENCE MIRRORS THAT OF MANY
Dylan Fogarty, a Class of 2016 M.S. in Commerce alumnus who is now working at Decoded in New York City , says his global experience was invaluable to him in his current position as director of client services at New York City-based Decoded, which offers “transformative digital learning” for companies and individuals. Fogarty says he travels a great deal for his job — very recently he was London, Frankfurt, Germany, and Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Fogarty says he knew as an undergrad at the University of Virginia that he wanted to study abroad, but “given my commitments in my clubs as well as work, I could never find time to do so. I saw the opportunity for the global program through the commerce school as a great way to get out there, see the world, and then especially see how that relates to business.”
As part of his experience in the M.S. in Commerce, Fogarty went on the Southeast Asia track, visiting Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, ending in Bali. Before that he had never been outside North America.
“I chose the Southeast Asia track as my first option because it sounded the most exotic and it also was the most unique, in the sense that we were going to countries like Singapore that had a huge global economic force and then other countries such as Myanmar who had their economy on pause for years because of the military regime in power,” Fogarty tells P&Q. “The differences between going from Singapore to Myanmar were so great that it was exciting to kind of see two economies who are so close in location yet so far in development. And I really enjoyed just going out learning about other alums in those areas, why they chose to work abroad, as well as how each individual country sort of has its own sector that it relies on for the economy to flourish. Overall it was fantastic.”
‘A GLOBAL MINDSET WILL ONLY HELP YOUR CAREER GROWTH’
And helpful, even after he’s been at his current job for more than two years.
“My company we travel a lot on domestically,” Fogarty says. “The opportunity for me to travel internationally came back in September. I went to Singapore, Johannesburg, Dubai, and Toronto, and every place was amazing to see. It was exciting to go back to Singapore following my experience with the M.S. in Commerce program because I recognized some of the places that I’d seen three years ago from when I was in the program. I also just understood more.
“What I do for work is I help train companies in digital. We were there with one of my clients training their workforce in Singapore. It was cool to connect with that audience given the knowledge I already had about how businesses operated in that area of the world. That was really exciting for me because I was able to use some of the stuff that I learned from my study-abroad program when I was out there. For the other trips that I make internationally, I have that sort of same mindset, recognizing that not everyone operates that same way — that there are different observational behaviors involved with different ethnicities and backgrounds. So it’s empowered me to take advantage of all the trips that I go on for work and be able to deliver and be the best that I can be in those countries.
“What I would say to students thinking of taking this program, or studying abroad in general, is: Definitely do it. Definitely go see the world. With my experiences of working with a company that travels globally, the world is becoming smaller and smaller so quickly through the Internet and technology itself, so being able to see the world and immersing yourself in it and operating with a global mindset will only help your career growth. I highly recommend it.”
(See the next page for a Q&A with Virginia McIntire’s Peter Maillet.)