College News

Executive Education Goes International

By Shirley Ebrahimian


In the 1962 Broadway production How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, window washer J. Pierpoint Finch needed nothing but a “how-to” book to scramble up the corporate success ladder to company president. But Associate Dean Leo Burke (’70) describes a complex global economy today that would severely test Pierpoint’s sure-fire method. “We need to educate managers with a respect to globalization,” he says.

Mendoza’s International Executive Education program is therefore pioneering an effort to educate executives world wide. Programs—using custom, open enrollment, and immersion models—are taught through partnerships between the University of Notre Dame, in-country educational institutions, and out-sourcing via consulting firms and governments. Notre Dame faculty often teach on location, helping to establish rapport with students, but distance learning technology is also used. Currently, programs exist in Chile, Costa Rica, and China.

Springboarding off Notre Dame’s long-standing relationships with La Universidad Alberto Hurtado and St. George’s College High School, Executive Education programs have been in Chile since August of 2003. At present, they include a two-week “Management of Innovation and Technology” program; a one-week “Executive Integral Leadership Program;” and a three-month “Quality Management Program,” which covers Six Sigma methodologies.

In November 2003, the international program branched out to San Jose, Costa Rica, with one-day broad-based leadership and quality management seminars to spark interest. It also develops customized programs at the local level to address specific management and leadership needs of banks or other firms; the aim is for such programs to develop throughout Latin America.

A global perspective implies that International Executive Education should work bi-directionally. To address this, American executives can immerse themselves in China at the GEM campus at Dushu Lake Higher Education Park in Suzhou. Here, executives can come up to speed on Chinese culture, basic Mandarin, Eastern business practices, and contact development. The customizable program—beginning in April 2005 and consisting of seminars, site visits, travel, and dialog—lasts from one week to a full year.

Future plans include a vision as deep and complex as its global perspective, reflecting trademark Notre Dame principles. “A key part of our mission is to be the voice of business for Notre Dame,” says Burke. Indeed, brand recognition plays a significant part in both developing lasting partnerships with international institutions needed for a balanced view of global business matters, and attendance, which topped three hundred last year world-wide.

Burke aims to impart not just standard business practices, but also a profound understanding of non-western ethics: “Standards are one thing, but cultural tendencies are quite another. And we’re not talking about only ethics, but negotiation and marketing.”

The groundwork for a two-way street of communication and learning has been laid. “We’re taking a lot of concepts well-tested in the U.S. to outside of the U.S. But we’ve been beginning to incorporate what’s learned out of country back into the U.S.,” says Burke. He cites the China immersion program as a catalyst for positive, permanent change in how the world conducts business.

Director of International Programs William Brewster, who both administers the current programs and develops new locations, works closely with this construction. He envisions a well-established Executive Education “hub with spokes” on every continent, including Antarctica, where he hopes to design a program appealing to the extreme-minded.

It all takes time and patience. “Culturally, when you leave the States, things don’t move as you’re used to. You have to learn to match your pace. We’ve been working on a program in Mexico City for seven months,” says Brewster. “It takes awhile to build a relationship, but once it’s there, it’s there for the long-term.”

—Shirley Ebrahimian is a freelance writer who has written for The Washington Post and various magazines, including Maryland Life and Frederick. She lives in Maryland.


Copyright © 2005 University of Notre Dame All Rights Reserved Last Updated on: May 27, 2005