Editor’s note: This commentary by Mourad Dakhli, director of the Master of International Business program at Georgia State University, is published as part of an annual sponsorship of Global Atlanta by the J. Mack Robinson College of Business and the Georgia State CIBER.
Today’s tech-savvy startups have more opportunity than ever to “go global” from their inception. Learning how to identify and execute on international opportunities, plus be more innovative in decision-making, is key for aspiring entrepreneurs.
To keep up with these trends – and at the request of employers and prospective students – Georgia State University’s one-year Master of International Business program is adding a new specialization track on Entrepreneurship & Innovation in Fall 2022.
The new program is the second specialization option for MIB students, along with the Global Supply Chain & Logistics track that debuted last year.
When the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at GSU was renovating our MIB program, we talked with stakeholders – current students, alumni, business partners and our board of advisers – about the skills needed by international businesses. Many identified supply chain expertise as critical.
But they also said employees must be entrepreneurial in nature. We did not necessarily expect that.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises said they need people who can identify opportunities for franchising, exporting and other international endeavors. They should also be self-starters, comfortable with traveling abroad to shake hands with people, always thinking about the “next big idea” – and following up on it.
In today’s dynamic international business environment, actors have to be innovative, and they have to know how to champion ideas. So, we mixed together innovation and entrepreneurship in this new MIB track.
Aspiring entrepreneurs are interested. Almost half of our incoming students want to start their own businesses or work in entrepreneurial roles in companies.
“I have obtained an MBA degree and attained some valuable work experiences in the real world. But I am hopeful that a specialized degree in International Business from a leading school in the U.S. will provide me with the adequate training that I will need to fulfill my dream,” comments incoming student Mehran Fekri.
“I believe the program will prepare me well to start my own consulting firm to provide international companies with viable strategies for performance improvement. I will be specifically well-positioned to advise global companies that seek to conduct business activities in Asia and the Middle East in particular.”
Local and international companies are interested in graduates of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation MIB program too.
“Most executives of growing firms are looking for talent that can grow with the company. Today, many companies are looking to expand beyond their existing borders,” says Don Williams, CEO of Princeton Healthcare and International Advisory Board member at GSU’s Robinson College.
Mr. Williams, who serves as a mentor for the MIB students, notes that graduates of the program are “rather unique and bring a skill set that will set them apart from other MBA students.”
Entrepreneurship and innovation are valuable skills for any international venture. We are fortunate at GSU to have an institute here that already offers top-notch training in these subjects – the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute (ENI). We leverage this institute for the MIB program, offering not just a course but a complete certificate, as we embed the courses into the MIB curriculum.
Students graduate with an MIB degree, plus a Graduate Certificate in Disruptive Innovation & Entrepreneurship from the ENI and a series of data badges through Georgia State’s library.
Over one year, from August through July, students selecting the International Entrepreneurship & Innovation track take seven courses of the general MIB program, plus three courses on entrepreneurship and innovation. The new track includes courses on:
- Innovation, Creativity & Imagination
- Innovation & Design Thinking (in GSU Innovation Labs)
- Entrepreneurship, Venture Development & Management
The courses are offered by the ENI and are available across all colleges; students studying education or science or other disciplines can take them also. After all, you don’t have to be a business major to learn how to start your own business.
The MIB courses meet twice a week from 5:30-9:45pm at GSU’s Buckhead campus, so students can work full-time or part-time while completing the program.
Interest in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation track of the MIB program is increasing, as entrepreneurship has become a hot topic fairly quickly in international business. This could be possibly, in part, because the pandemic not only forced companies to be more flexible and innovative in their approaches to doing business, but also because many employees saw opportunities to work from home on their own ventures. More than 1,200 GSU students are currently enrolled in a major or minor degree program related to entrepreneurship.
As more companies expand internationally and more startups need cross-cultural skills, innovative thinking is critical, says Mr. Williams. He adds that the MIB program allows students to tackle problems from an international perspective, employing “critical thinking and the ability to solve risk-related problems, which you inevitably encounter in international business.”
The MIB program plans to add a new specialization track every couple of years. Future tracks may include global human resources management and advanced data and analytics.
Learn more about the MIB program and its new Entrepreneurship & Innovation track here.
The application deadline for international students is April 1; general deadline is June 1.