Day 12 – The Global Business and Management Education Workshop

January 20th, 2010 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Today we attended the Global Business and Education Workshop at Chulalongkorn Business School. Dean Anandalingam and Dean Annop Tanlamai were both present, representing the R.H. Smith school of Business and Chulalongkorn Business School, respectively. Interestingly enough, our very own Dean Anand previously studied energy efficiency in engineering at Chula University; and so, to a rooted extent, the pact for a better world via business by the two universities has long since been forged.

The program commenced with an immediate passion that thrived off of the interactive, informational setting. Dean Anand explained the importance of Global Connectivity and the value of having an innate sense of responsibility toward corporate responsibility. “Ethics,” he remarked, “is not only complying with the law. . . one must be accountable in the free market.” This ideology has only recently been so ardently embraced by the population. I can remember debates from BMGT Freshman Fellows courses about what was deemed truly ethical; now, the curtain is being unveiled on the steadfast believers that think business is solely a profit portal that somehow ethically floats above the social value magnet the rest of us gravitate toward. One day, businesses will not survive unless they are socially responsible. Until then, how do we integrate the power for social change into our curriculum? The essential building blocks for success include faculty, staff, students and RESOURCES. To earn global citizenship, one must be ethical and able to embrace diversity; in the form of race, religion, socio-economic background, etc.. Also supporting these notions is Robert Waters, the Associate Vice President of UMD, who led the room on the informational background of the U.S., particularly in terms of diversity. As I watched Dean Anand, Robert Waters and Dean Annop Tanlamai in the front row, the melding of brown, black and golden tan seemed just the combination to legitimize the subject.  By implementing the Center for Social Value Creation, the Smith school is providing an environment where innovation meets ethics. It is becoming more important to the world, and therefore to business world as well (how often we forget), for businesses to take into account the people and the environment. To take care of ourselves and our habitat has re-emerged as the first priority. Interesting that it had fallen behind to begin with, isn’t it?

Mr. Joseph Chavapas expanded upon the ways in which we can develop socially responsible business leaders. As the entrepreneurial professor for Chula, and a Harvard graduate, Mr. Chavapas shared his concern for the subject’s stereotype as one that is strictly driven by monetary reasons. “Business for profit must become business for society, for the people,” he remarked. Using Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladesh banker and economist as an example, Mr. Chavapas illustrated the difference between a donor and a social entrepreneur. Muhammed Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, a bank that loans money to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. The entrepreneurs here are people like street vendors who sell homemade noodles or hand crafted goods, or offer shoe shining services or massages. The loans are used to fund these businesses, but they are also used for other not-so-obvious things. Sometimes used to pay for the installation of solar lights for these families, the loans ultimately create jobs for engineers; allow for more time in the day to work or read; and also fund green energy. This concept of small loans is called “microcredit” and has been loaned out to over 7 million people, bringing tenfold that amount out of poverty. A Nobel Peace Prize, well deserved.

The platform for the cross-cultural student discussion took both the Thai and American students for a few unexpected turns and a lot of laughing. The Thai students from Chula made a presentation on the differences between the two cultures, especially in business. When the aspect of American attitude came through in points about seemingly accepted public displays of anger, high levels of conflict, etc., the room was enthralled to the point of overlapping chatter and excitement. Of course, the realization that our extroverted ways were being reinforced that very moment made for a shared laugh amongst the room. The conversation touched a wide array of areas as we discussed conflict and conflict avoidance, as well as the repercussions of each; the meaning and preference of eye contact; the acceptance or rejection of PDA (public displays of affection); the affects of the current U.S. market and what it means to hold higher degrees. While Americans converse in a very passionate way, utilizing words, tone and facial expression in their delivery, Thai people tend to be more reserved and much less readable. Both sides were eager to learn more about one another’s habits, but alas, lunch time intervened. Regardless of the brief time spent with the Thai students, I believe we have gained an invaluable kind of insight to the global world of business.

 I personally could not have asked for a more momentous way to end my studies and travels than with Dean Annop Tanlamai and the Chulalongkorn Thai students. The perspectives shared and the goals formed have solidified this trip abroad as an indispensable experience.

 I am grateful to our foreign hosts for gifting us with the power of knowledge; because at the end of any day, that is all one can ask for. The rest, we have learned, is in our hands.