Atlanta is well positioned to become a center for international business education because of its location as an air and ground transportation hub, said Angel Cabrera, president of Thunderbird, The Garvin School of International Management, who is to speak at World Trade Center Atlanta this week.
Dr. Cabrera is coming here to meet with the 250-300 Thunderbird alumni in the Atlanta area and recruit students for the school’s international masters program. He is scheduled to speak at the World Trade Center, Thursday, Sept. 8, from 8:30-10 a.m., addressing international business and education issues.
In a telephone interview last week from Glendale, Ariz., home of Thunderbird, Dr. Cabrera spoke with GlobalAtlanta. “Normally cities with good [transportation] hubs create destinations for good quality education,” he said. “And Atlanta has it.”
He noted that cities with strong transportation infrastructures, including airports, attract many universities to locate to their areas. The universities then compete against one another, pushing up the quality of education for the city. He cited Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University as “high quality institutions.”
A Georgia Tech graduate himself, and now an adviser to President Wayne Clough, Dr. Cabrera has been leading Thunderbird since 2004. While the school offers traditional finance, accounting and marketing classes, Thunderbird has placed an emphasis on international business education since its inception in 1946, preparing students for a culturally diverse marketplace.
“We teach people how to understand differences among cultures but also how to manage them and use them to thrive,” he said, noting that cultural differences can be effective business tools if managed correctly. “They can be a huge opportunity to bring in different points of view, in terms of business relations, business creativity and finding new business opportunities,” he said.
Conversely, misunderstanding cultural complexities can be detrimental to a business’ international endeavors. “Some overseas operations may fail because of that,” Dr. Cabrera said.
In addition, cultural diversity training is not only appropriate for American businesspeople, but foreign executives, as well, he said. Thunderbird is, in fact, working with business executives in Russia and Korea to help them understand American culture and business practices to be more prepared to enter the American market, he said.
Before being asked to be Thunderbird’s president, Dr. Cabrera worked as dean at the Instituto de Empresa Graduate Business School in Madrid, where he implemented a management research center that has generated praise throughout Europe.
Also while in Madrid, Dr. Cabrera began arguing that businesspeople have a social responsibility to work ethically. His ideas were published in both European and American newspapers, and the concept has followed him to Thunderbird.
“I deeply believe that management is one of the greatest professions of our times,” he said. “It’s a profession where people can create a lot of value… But they can also do a lot of harm.” He proposed that business schools implement a Hippocratic oath of values and ethics that students take as a part of their education, similar to oaths taken by medical students, which underscores their responsibilities to society, he said.
While Dr. Cabrera says that his ideas have been very controversial, students at Thunderbird have chosen to implement the oath concept, drafting a school pledge that is expected to be formalized this year, he said.
For more information on the event, contact Patrick Tonui at (404) 880-1562 or patrick@WTCAtlanta.com. To find out more about Thunderbird, contact Tania Torres (602) 978-7272 or visit www.thunderbird.edu.