Global Business – Bigger than Ever at Michigan Ross


One of the most exciting — and challenging — developments in business education is globalization.

Our future graduates will be working with individuals and companies from all over the world, and they must be prepared to easily adapt to cross-cultural differences and the unique economic and political landscapes of other regions. It is my belief that this understanding is best delivered by experience.

We encourage students to get outside of their home country — and comfort zone — and it has been a top priority for me as dean to increase the global opportunities available at our school. In fact, I established the Office of Global Initiatives shortly after coming to Ross to fully integrate and support our existing global programs and identify new opportunities. I also created the position of Associate Dean of Global Initiatives. M.S. Krishnan, who currently holds the position, brings deep cultural expertise and extensive knowledge of the global economy. Krishnan has built solid relationships in India and around the world and regularly travels abroad to consult with companies and educate their managers and leaders. He has a keen understanding of emerging market strategies and is continually looking to identify unique learning opportunities for students and faculty.

The broad set of global experiences available at Ross, from international Multidisciplinary Action Projects to Global Immersion courses, contribute to the development of agile, resilient thinkers and is central to our commitment to provide a boundaryless business education.

India Connection

Ross’ deep roots in India were established by the late C.K. Prahalad, who has been ranked as the world’s most influential business thinker. Prahalad’s pioneering research argued that businesses can profit from the base of the global socioeconomic pyramid while creating social value. Prahalad also performed groundbreaking research on “next practice” innovations that create competitive advantage in organizations.

Today, Prahalad’s legacy at Ross is strong, and students and faculty continue to build on his work in India. The C.K. Prahalad Initiative supports research that cultivates innovations and develops new products and business models for consumers at the base of the pyramid. MBA students can work on C.K. Prahalad MAPs in India, Brazil, and other emerging markets that address both profit generation and social value creation. Students can also spend an entire summer in India immersing in a company project through the C.K. Prahalad Fellowship.  

New Global Partnership in China

Ross partners with more than 40 international business schools, offering a wide variety of options for students interested in studying abroad. We recently welcomed a particularly important new partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) that will enhance our engagement in China while giving more students direct exposure to the global economy. The SJTU partnership launched in July 2015 with a small pilot Master of Management Program for engineering students in the UM-SJTU Joint Institute.

The impact of partnerships like this extends beyond the participating students. Relationships with businesses and universities overseas allow faculty to broaden their international expertise and ensure that our curriculum prepares students for the current challenges and opportunities of business without borders. New research and discoveries are brought back to the classrooms at Ross, where all students benefit from the school’s vast global presence.

International partnerships also build our reputation as an incubator of global business leaders and highlight our unwavering commitment to graduating competitive, collaborative, and successful professionals who can work anywhere in the world.

More Students Study Abroad

We have tripled the amount of international study experiences at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in recent years to encourage more students to engage in projects or courses outside of the U.S. And it’s working. The BBA program went from 100 students who had global experiences in 2011 to 329 in 2014, while the MBA program went from 75 (not including MAPs) to 141 during the same time period. And in 2015, 65 percent of students worked on a MAP project outside their home country. 2016 will bring substantial additional growth in these numbers, particularly as many of our BBAs study abroad during the winter semester.  

Under our new Multidisciplinary Exploration and Rigorous Guided Education BBA curriculum, undergraduate students can study abroad for a semester at one of 22 prestigious partner schools across Europe, South America, and Asia. Students can also enroll in two- to three-week Global Immersion courses, Global Practicum courses with fieldwork abroad, or Global Study and Intern programs.

Global learning engagement at the graduate level remains strong, as more than three-quarters of Ross MBA students participated in international learning opportunities in 2014. In 2015, Ross MAP teams traveled to 31 different countries to tackle projects ranging from rebranding apparel in the Dominican Republic to working with Google in Asia.

But a MAP project isn’t the only way for MBA students to study business globally. Second-year Full-Time MBAs can study abroad at one of 20 partner schools, and first-year and Evening MBA students can enroll in a Global Immersion course.

We also offer the Global MBA Program, where students spend three months in Asia with Ross faculty as they work on core courses. This specialized 16-month MBA is geared toward corporate-sponsored students looking to minimize the time they spend away from their jobs.

Global Executive-Level Programs

Our Executive Education programs are administered all over the world, with open enrollment programs offered in Ann Arbor, Hong Kong, India, and Malaysia. In recent years, faculty have worked with organizations to deliver custom learning programs in India, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. In fact, the Executive Education program we developed with Tata in India is our longest-running custom learning partnership, and we facilitated the 25th consecutive Tata program in 2015.

Ross also hosted a group of Chinese executives from ICBC for the second time in 2015 for a customized Executive Education program. The 23 student-execs joined us for an integrative nine-month learning experience that included MBA courses, workshops, company visits, cultural activities, action-learning projects, and internships designed to help develop the bank’s emerging leaders. A “Michigan Buddies” program paired ICBC executives with U-M students to help participants improve their cross-cultural skills.

The Global Community at Ross

Whether or not students elect to venture outside of the U.S. during their time at Ross, globalization is fully integrated into our culture and curriculum to provide them with an appreciation for the global nature of business. Students can attend events such as the Asia Business Conference or the India Business Conference to learn more about specific markets. They can take an international business course, pursue an international studies minor, or learn another language. Or, they can meet students with similar interests by joining one of Ross’ international clubs.

Our diverse, inclusive community is home to roughly 100 exchange students from dozens of different countries. Domestic students are encouraged to make cross-cultural connections by becoming Ross Global Ambassadors and partnering with exchange students to make them feel at home. Adding to our successful exchange program is the fact that approximately 32 percent of our Full-Time MBA students are from outside of the country.

Lessons for Life

It’s almost impossible to capture the full extent of Ross’ global engagement. Whether they examine industry growth in Chile, travel with Nespresso to Costa Rica, or redefine a business strategy for operations in China, many students cite their time abroad as the highlight of their business education. They learn lessons they will carry with them throughout their lives and get that much closer to becoming leaders who make a positive difference in the world. I encourage you to learn more about the global courses, programs, partnerships, research, and initiatives at Michigan Ross.

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