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Developing next generation of international business leaders

  • Date: Tue, Dec 1, 2015

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Future generations of global business leaders can gain a head start in the multilingual, multicultural and internationalised business world through the UCD MSc in international management/CEMS MIM.

This is a unique dual degree programme with graduates awarded an MSc in international management from UCD Smurfit School and a master’s in international management (MIM) from CEMS. CEMS is a global strategic alliance of leading business schools and multinational companies and UCD Smurfit School is the only Irish academic member of this prestigious group.

CEMS grew out of an organisation known as the Community of European Management Schools and now includes 29 schools across five continents, 71 corporate partners drawn from the multinational community, and four NGO social partners. At present there are some 1,200 MIM students worldwide while 9,800 alumni of 85 nationalities are working in 75 countries.

“This is one of the most sought after programmes of its kind in the world”, says academic director Dr Andrew Keating. “It is number four in the Financial Times’ Global Master’s in Management ranking and has been in the top five ever since the rankings began. “UCD is the only school in Ireland able to offer this programme. Some of the world’s best business schools are members of CEMS. These include the London School of Economics, the HEC in Paris, Bocconi in Milan, the University of St Gallen in Switzerland, and the Ivey Business School in Ontario; it’s a bit like the Ivy League. ”

The course is designed to offer a bridge between the academic and corporate worlds, combining the top-level academic theory of leading academics from the member schools and the in-the-field expertise of corporate members of the CEMS alliance.

“The 16-month programme gives participants an awareness of different cultures, schools of thought and ways of doing business, via a semester spent abroad in a CEMS member school, an international internship and constant interaction with the corporate world during the course through a business project, skills seminars and other corporate events,” says Keating.

He points out that it is a very difficult programme to get on. “The type of students it attracts tend to be the very brightest and the best. They have to come from a business or economics background and there is a minimum language requirement with students having to be fluent in English and one other language with at least a basic proficiency in a third which they have to have brought up to Leaving Cert A2 honours level by the time the finish the course.

Senior leadership positions

“The students are typically very smart and driven people who want to go on the senior leadership positions in international companies. They are also a very international mix coming from countries across Europe, North America and Asia.”

Competition to get on the course tends to be quite intense with numbers limited to between 45 and 50 on each programme. “The numbers are restricted because it just wouldn’t be possible to have a larger number on a programme of this nature. We want the students to interact and collaborate with one another and build relationships that will last long after the course finishes. The course appeals to high achievers who are aiming at international careers in management.”

The course curriculum comprises a one-week block seminar and two CEMS core modules on areas such as international business and strategy, global leadership, and business research insights. In addition, students choose from a range of optional modules aimed at deepening their knowledge in a specific domain or helping them acquire a broad set of competencies. Optional modules include new business ventures; global marketing; international corporate finance; digital marketing; project management; managing the negotiation process; creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship; data-driven marketing; and supply chain sustainability.

A particular feature of the programme is its mix of practical and academic work. “We are very interested in having a strong element of collaboration between industry and academia on the course,” Keating points out.

Brightest business graduates

“There is a huge amount of industry co-operation and involvement in the course both in the academic and the practical modules. We have some great corporate partners including Kerry Group and Salesforce here in Ireland. The corporate partners are involved for a number of reasons and one key one is that it gives them access to some of the brightest business graduates in the world for future recruitment.

“There are 1,200 students at any one time studying in 29 of the world’s top business schools and there are some really great interactions happening between them and the companies involved in the programme. We also work with social partners and some of our students did a project with Goal last year.”

The skills element of the course includes areas such as data handling, working effectively in teams, and starting up a business. “These are really practical skills that graduates need when they are coming out of the programme,” Keating notes.

Business success is not the sole focus of the programme, however. “Responsible global leadership is very important”, says Keating. “Business leaders have to think of the wider implications of what they do and there is a seminar on ethics and responsible leadership.” Programme graduates typically end up working in globally focused organisations such as Accenture, Enterprise Ireland, Glanbia, Google, Kerry Group, KPMG, Procter & Gamble, and Salesforce. “As well as careers with companies such as these a major benefit is the alumni network which graduates become part of. There are now more than 9,800 graduates working around the world, many of them here in Ireland.”

Applications are currently being accepted for the next programme which begins in September 2016 and Keating is anxious to see more Irish graduates applying for it. “One of the eye-opening things about the programme is that there aren’t as many Irish students as you might have thought.

“We get applications from all over Europe and beyond so it is very competitive. One of the barriers to Irish students used to be a requirement to be fluent in two other languages as well as English. This has now been changed to allow students be fluent in one and study the other during the course. We hope that more Irish students will apply this year as a result, it is certainly not a question of ability that is holding them back.”

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