“I wanted my students to learn how to respect other cultures; to be an efficient manager of people, you have to understand them,” said Yung-Jae Lee, academic director of the Professional MBA program in SMC’s School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA), after leading a group of Saint Mary’s graduate students in at trip to southern China.
“We live in global community,” he added. “If you don’t understand people practically, how can you expect them to understand you professionally?”
In July, students from SEBA’s Professional MBA and Executive MBA programs returned from a 10-day trip that included stops in Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
For a time, “Doing Business in World Regions” courses were optional in the Professional MBA program, but recently they were made mandatory. “It’s always been an important course,” said Lee, “but to emphasize both the College’s and SEBA’s focus on global thinking, we decided to add the requirement to the Professional MBA curriculum.”
While abroad, students visited a number of companies, such as the Hong Kong conglomerate Jardine Matheson, Toyota, the amusement park Ocean Park Hong Kong, and the pediatric nutrition company Biostime. Company visits were multifaceted and included factory tours, presentations from senior-level management, strategy sessions and opportunities for questions. On this trip, students got eye-opening insights from business leaders in Hong Kong and met with nonprofit organizations and startups, as well as attending lectures.
In China students took in a presentation on the history, customs and economy of Hong Kong at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. They also attended a lecture by Professor Lee in Macau. Outside of boardrooms and lecture halls, they enjoyed cultural enrichment trips to historical sites and temples and visited Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, all in the pursuit of broader knowledge about the culture.
“To be understood,” Lee said, “you have to understand first.”
The curriculum for SEBA’s “Doing Business in World Regions” course supports the school’s mission, “Think Globally. Lead Responsibly.” Lee recently led the “International Management in China” trip offered through the Professional MBA curriculum.
Lee views this course as a success because it embraces SEBA's mission to educate with a global perspective. “People may be familiar with Asian culture through friends or family, but most of them have never been there. Our course is unique. Other programs don’t take as many company visits as we do. Students also did case studies on the companies before they left for China. It’s a course, but it’s not a traditional course.”
Slideshow of SEBA's visit: