As peers globalize, SOM seeks international niche

For decades, American business schools have boosted their reputations abroad by wooing foreign businesspeople to executive programs. But even with its international reputation, Yale is trying to catch up.

As globalization becomes a buzzword in higher education circles, universities are increasingly connecting with the international business elite, some with satellite campuses and individually tailored courses with senior faculty members. The Yale School of Management — which has to compete with older, more established peer institutions — has expanded its executive programs on an international scale and is taking pains to distinguish the programs it offers from others.

While most global executive education programs market a standard executive MBA degree to foreign professionals, Yale has focused on offering short-term, customized programs abroad and in New Haven aimed primarily at senior executives.

The custom programs serve as a “gateway” to Yale, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean of Executive Programs for SOM.

“We love to showcase the great scholars here as well as the architectural splendor of campus,” he said.

Such programs can build connections between faculty and leading executives around the world, Sonnenfeld said. But many other schools have well-established competing programs.

The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, for example, has campuses in London and Singapore to teach executive students. It also offers a 21-month-long executive MBA program at each of these campuses. Yale offers no degrees outside of New Haven.

For Chicago, the three-campus setup benefits students, said William Kooser ’78, the school’s associate dean for Executive MBA programs.

“Our … approach provides a unique opportunity for all of our students to gain an international perspective on business and to develop important relationships with other business leaders around the globe,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Chicago’s executive MBA students have a chance to travel to each campus, and 25 percent of the curriculum involves working with students at the other campuses, Kooser said.

The Graduate School of Business also uses the London campus for its customized programs within executive education.

International executive programs foster interaction between faculty and professionals from outside the United States, said Stephen LaCivita, associate dean of executive education at Chicago. Such interaction can be a boon to faculty, he said.

“If you’re going to teach global management, it helps to have your faculty involved in doing programs on a global basis,” he said. “Interaction with professionals all over the world is always a good thing in order to generate new ideas and different perspectives.”

Holding programs outside of the United States is not just beneficial for the executives, but can also help a business school popularize its executive education programs overseas.

Dipak Jain, dean of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill., said it is important to attract executives to help build the school’s presence and globalize the faculty.

“The most dangerous place to view the world is from your desk,” he said. “You need to reach out — you cannot sit in Evanston or Chicago.”

Internationally, Northwestern offers executive MBA degrees through joint programs in Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Germany.

Chicago, for example, has been educating executives for over six decades, while Yale’s SOM has been offering its executive programs for six years. Without satellite campuses to rely upon, SOM focuses on short non-degree programs lasting from three days to several weeks.

Still, SOM offers programs that are completely unique among its peer schools, such as the Chief Executive Leadership Institute and upcoming Global Business Leadership Program in Beijing, Sonnenfeld said.

With the push to expand executive education programs globally, SOM has not only brought together global leaders with American executives in programs like the CEO Leadership Summit, but it has also created customized programs tailored especially for international clients.

SOM has created custom programs for members of the Indian parliament, government officials from Kazakhstan and other leaders from China and the United Arab Emirates, Sonnenfeld said. SOM has also hosted summer programs in Latin America, he said.

Sonnenfeld said the global reach of executive programs is “terribly important,” and he said the offerings of such programs reflect an overall shift on the international scale.

This shift allows the overall goals of executive education — reputation building, for example — to take on a global scope in a business world that is increasingly global in scope as well.

The globalization of executive programs mirrors the international focus of continuing education programs across all fields. At the University of Pennsylvania, administrators have considered offering classes in other countries.

“All of our programs have in their goals to expand their international audiences,” said Marni Baker-Stein, director of Penn’s College of General Studies.

Next month, Yale will host its biannual CEO Leadership Summit, which will host executives from the United States as well as countries such as India and China.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    SOM deserves alot of credit for getting its act together. When I was looking at business schools in the early 90s, people told me not to apply to SOM. In the words of one Yale alum the program (and at that time the "MPPM" degree) was "neither fish nor fowl". Now it seems the school is starting to hit stride. Levin and his team deserve a lot of credit and the new dean sounds terrific. One piece of advice: focus on your strengths (ie global finance) and don't try to be all things to all people.
    Yale BS Wharton MBA