Learning More About the Office of Global Initiatives

Meet Olivia Nouailletas, Program Manager for Graduate Programs in the Office of Global Initiatives (OGI) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. OGI’s mission is to provide students with opportunities to develop a global mindset and link faculty, students and staff with the international community. With the help of her OGI colleagues, Olivia manages international programs for Smith MBA students. Olivia sat down with the Admissions team to talk about the projects that her office spearheads.  

Describe the Office of Global Initiatives (OGI) in 3 words:
           Applicable (for both international and domestic professional development)  

What differentiates Smith’s Global Business Courses and the Global Consulting Practicums from other university offerings in the DMV?
In comparison to other universities in the area, Smith focuses on providing students strong experiential learning opportunities that help build skills highly sought after by employers. The Smith MBA program is flexible and made to fit students’ needs. Each student has the flexibility to customize their MBA program and may choose to internationalize their experiences and therefore their resume.

OGI, in collaboration with the faculty leaders, offers a wide array of programs for MBA students. Each one includes a strong applied learning component. This allows students to have actual hands-on experiences with international and local organizations and companies. While the in-country portion ranges from 7 to 12 days, each course spans two semesters, giving students the opportunity to build a solid knowledge foundation before they go abroad.  

  •    MBA Global Business Courses give students the opportunity to acquire a global mindset and develop their global business savvy during a course which includes an international component (to Brazil, China, Germany & Italy, India, Singapore & Japan, South Africa, and the UAE). These programs are open to 2nd and 3rd year MBA students as this is a great opportunity to test the skills acquired during their first year.

Some of our MBA Global Business Courses have had students working with startups in Brazil, the tourism industry in South Africa, and investment ventures in the United Arab Emirates. The professors have extensive experience teaching in country (they are even, at times, nationals from the country visited), and they are also very familiar with the most current business trends in the region. Prior to departure students will have classes to grow their cultural and international business understanding overall. Then students will have classes to understand the specific business context of the country they plan to visit and start working on their projects. In country, students will meet with international and local companies and organizations to experience first-hand business in the countries visited. While in country, students will also learn to understand local culture, which is a key factor of success in business. Upon returning to the U.S., the programs culminate in a final class where students present their final reports and compare and contrast them with reports from students on a different program. During this final class, students will also learn how to build a narrative around their course experience to best showcase it to employers. Students find this experience to be one of the most memorable of their MBA program.  

  •    MBA Consulting Practicums allow students to acquire a global mindset and apply their skills to solve a challenge a company is facing. These projects require a solid skill base and are open to 2nd and 3rd year MBA students. The application process is highly competitive.

Global Consulting Practicums have taken students to China to focus on retail market expansion, as well as both Rwanda and Israel to work on energy projects. These courses vary from year to year, depending on the client and their needs.  

These are unique offerings from the Smith School. No other school in the DMV offers this type of experiential learning during an MBA or provides students the possibility to custom design their MBA experience.

Both the global business courses and consulting practicums give Smith students real world business experience that they can add to their resume!

Are there other global initiatives that Part-Time MBA students can participate in?
Yes! Every year OGI/CIBER hosts, in partnership with the MBA Emerging Markets Association, the Emerging Markets Case Competition. This year, nine teams from all over the country took part in the competition that provided recommendations to a high tech client from India. This case competition offered teams the opportunity to put their skills to practice and test them against other teams. The panel of judges included seasoned professionals from the corporate sector and from development organizations such as the World Bank and USAID.

We also encourage Part-Time MBA students to come to College Park to attend our Distinguished Speaker Series. A few examples of panel topics this year included Brazilian Political Shifts and the Repercussions on the Economy and Investment, as well as Skills Development for International Business.

Finally, exchange programs are offered to highly ranked partner institutions (currently in Australia, China, Denmark, France and Germany).

Are there any new initiatives coming to OGI that Smith students should keep an eye out for?
In April, OGI rolled out an Export Boot Camp at the Baltimore campus that was extremely successful. The workshop brought together professionals who were looking to learn more about export practices. Guests included individuals representing the U.S. Department of Commerce, UPS, the Port of Baltimore, Small Business Administration, and Export-Import Bank.  Students focused on different themes over the two-day period to build a foundation in export management. We plan to continue to expand this boot camp next year!

To learn more about the Office of Global Initiatives, please visit their website here.

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