Emerging Markets, the Quinlan School, its IMBA, Jesuit Education and You
The title of this blog is rather ungainly. If you’re busy, bored or can’t wait for the punch line, just note that emerging markets remain very promising; related to this promise, the IMBA program is unique, literally has a world of potential, perhaps only could be orchestrated well by the Quinlan School of Business, its network and its faculty, embodies the essence of Jesuit education in many ways, and may possibly place you (Quinlan students, faculty, staff and alumni) on the frontline of a brave new world of global teaching, learning, transformative experiences, and employment. After years of work/research/teaching in emerging markets, including a stint with our brand new Intercontinental MBA program (aka, the IMBA) — I am teaching a modified version of my MARK 561 course, “Comparative Consumer Behavior in Emerging Southeast Asia” — I’d like to share some brief reflections on themes subsumed in the title and the punchline, with implications as we move forward.
Regular readers of Quinlan blogs likely have seen entries by my colleague, Professor Mary Ann McGrath, who currently serves as Director of the IMBA, and who kindly invited me to teach in the program. Dr. McGrath has shared a few interesting perspectives on the places visited by our “Pioneer IMBAs”. This intrepid group has enthusiastically taken on much of the world – e.g., Africa, South America and now Asia — in search of edification, transformation, and differential advantages in an increasingly competitive and global job-market comprised of a growing number of organizations that expect graduates to understand — and ideally to have meaningful experiences in — emerging markets.
Toward the aforementioned hopeful outcomes, a substantial component of MARK 561 includes site-study in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. This field work builds on readings, lectures, country/market/consumer analyses, online-discussions and applied-projects, typically completed before arrival in the first country visited, Vietnam. Once ensconced in Southeast Asia, students are immersed in cultural and historical sites, marketing, manufacturing and consumption venues, and lectures/discussions in the classroom and in the field; they learn from an extraordinary cast of leading experts, including academics, government leaders, managers and executives of state-owned and private businesses, consultants, marketing researchers, directors of NGOs, tour guides and others. Students literally eat, sleep, drink, walk, climb, breathe, think, swim and even spelunk marketing and consumer phenomena in three distinctly different countries that markedly vary geographically, politically, culturally, economically, administratively, and in their marketing and consumer patterns and preferences.
The Jesuit learning model favors such immersion and experiential learning, which enables students to make discoveries about places, events, policies, practices, professionalism, opportunities, challenges, responsibility, service, others, and self. In MARK 561– and I presume in the other courses required to earn the Quinlan IMBA — students engage, experience, learn, discern and reflect; they are required to keep journals, to reassess their initial assumptions articulated in projects, to integrate practical ideas learned while in-country, to be better problem-solvers based on a tool-kit that emerges from the knowledge acquired and experiences lived. Evenings often include discussions about days’ events, comparisons of people and places, potential best-practices, and personal epiphanies. Students inevitably are transformed by myriad experiences encountered on their odyssey through emerging Southeast Asia and likely the other countries, too. Come graduation day, they should be well prepared and positioned to go forth and to set the world on fire, as urged by St. Ignatius Loyola.
We professors tend to reflect on (obsess over?) teaching processes and learning outcomes of each course taught, as well as our own epiphanies resulting from interactions with individual students and the exceptional dynamics of each class. As part of this process, I very briefly share here some “take-aways” from working with our IMBA students, while teaching MARK 561: emerging Southeast Asia remains one of the most beguiling and compelling regions of the world; there are some bright and talented people that were and will be attracted to this region, other emerging regions and accordingly the IMBA program; future enrollees are sprinkled all over the world; this student-market is potentially enormous; the program seems to be truly unique and valuable; if it leverages distinctive skill-sets and expertise of Quinlan faculty and the assets of our global Jesuit network, that uniqueness and value can be sustained; this program and other initiatives in emerging markets have the potential to add further distinction to Loyola University Chicago and its Quinlan School of Business, as students will be truly prepared to lead extraordinary lives, and to make important contributions to the good people of emerging markets and the global community.