Business has no boundaries, so it makes sense for future practitioners to venture beyond their comfort zones and learn the customs, cultures and behaviors that exist beyond our borders.

MBA, dual degree, Paris, international

MBA students Jason Luciani, Mackenzie Cassidy, Holly McKissick and Jacob Kerby are studying international business in Paris.
Image Credit: Courtesy photo

That’s the thinking behind a Clemson University dual-degree program that earns students combined MBA and Masters of International Business degrees by dividing their studies between Greenville and Paris.

“Regardless of whether you work in a large or small company, business is global,” said Jane Layton, director of academic programs for Clemson’s MBA program in Greenville. “By completing the first year of their MBA in Greenville and the second year in Paris, students are exposing themselves to an experience that businesses covet in their managers.”

For about seven years, Clemson’s MBA program has collaborated with IESEG School of Management, one of France’s top business schools, on offering the dual degrees. Layton said in addition to the international curriculum, students are exposed to peers and faculty from all corners of the globe.

“The international exposure this degree program provides is invaluable to students wanting to learn how business is conducted beyond U.S. borders. We can talk about understanding others’ cultures in the classroom, or how to greet someone or dress in an international business setting, but there isn’t a better way than to live it.”

Second-year MBA student Jacob Kerby says the benefits of the dual-degree program go well beyond its international curriculum.

“Twenty-nine countries are represented just in our MIB cohort in Paris. We spend a lot of time together in class as well as outside of it,” said Jacob, who is one of four MBA students studying in Paris this year. “The relationships and cultural awareness we are gaining through this experience are definitely going to pay off over the course of our careers. Instead of just reading about an issue happening in a country, we now will have the ability to call up a friend from business school and get a first-hand perspective.”

Layton said students return from their year abroad enriched, not only understanding the nuances of conducting business in a different country, but how to treat and work with people from different cultures.

“What we hear from companies is they have concerns about putting people in management positions without international exposure. Because of the global nature of business, they want their managers to have worked or lived in an environment that exposed them to different cultures and business styles.

A hiring manager who will attest to the value of living and learning abroad is Jane’s husband, Steve, a VP of sales and marketing for one of Milliken & Co.’s. business units.

“It’s a way a job applicant can differentiate themselves,” Steve Layton said. “An applicant that has either worked or studied abroad likely isn’t afraid of moving outside their comfort zone and understands the importance of learning about other cultures, customs and behaviors. These are traits crucial to being a successful leader in today’s global business world.”

Clemson MBA student Jason Luciani sees nothing but positives resulting from the multicultural exposure he’s receiving from living and learning in Paris.

“Great learning opportunities are created because of the many different backgrounds, beliefs and knowledge bases that exist at IESEG. Though there are many differences amongst us, there is also a great sense of camaraderie and teamwork,” Jason said. “We have an international collection of industry professionals sharing their first-hand accounts, and then there are the networking opportunities in seminars after class. We will reap the rewards of this experience for many years to come.”

Clemson also offers shorter-term international opportunities for its MBA candidates. There are study abroad programs and internships in Germany, the Czech Republic and at Oxford in the United Kingdom. For more information on the dual-degree program with IESEG in Paris, or the other study abroad options, contact Jane Layton at 864.363.2777.

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