This article was first published in The Daily Bruin.
By Pegah Yazdy, Daily Bruin contributor
Rosario Bradbury, a CEO of the Swiss Company SGS based in the Philippines, chatted with Marc Haugen, a vice president for a research company based in the Silicon Valley, and Shui Ling Choo, director of operations at a hospital in Singapore, as hors d'oeuvres and cocktails were being served to the 40 guests in attendance.
Though they come from very diverse backgrounds, these are members of the 2007 graduating class of the UCLA Anderson School of Management's UCLA-NUS Global Executive MBA program.
As part of the program they have traveled together to four different countries on two continents to study business, leadership skills and the rapidly growing markets in Asia.
On Saturday, they gathered again to attend a dinner and reception hosted by Judy Olian, the dean of the Anderson School.
The Anderson School, in partnership with the National University of Singapore, offers this executive MBA program which gives students an opportunity to further their business studies in a global context.
Unlike the three other MBA programs offered by the Anderson School, this program gives students an opportunity to travel and take classes in four cities on two different continents and to earn dual MBA degrees from both UCLA and the National University of Singapore.
Olian said the program expands the international scope of the Anderson School.
"When (we're) a school of management, when we prepare global leaders for organizational leadership and business leadership, it has to be in markets that are going to be the dominant markets of tomorrow, not just today," she said. "In addition to the traditional markets of the U.S. and Europe, the dominant markets of tomorrow will be Asian countries."
Christopher Erickson, professor and senior associate dean of the Anderson School and the faculty director for the program, said the average age of students in the program is 38 and most of the participants are already mid-level to senior executives hoping to learn leadership skills.
Bradbury said the program offers classes in strategy, finance and corporate marketing, but she said she thinks the program is also very good in terms of leadership, something some business people sometimes overlook.
"They go too much into business strategy and overlook that there's a leadership that is necessary in order to drive that strategy more passionately," she said.
Bradbury said the program has given her a larger perspective on the global economy.
"It's not just about understanding the business of Asia and the U.S., but it's about how you approach it and the culture and the economics of the country," she said.
During the 15-month program, students meet for 2 weeks approximately every three months, while the students work full-time when they are not attending classes.
"Classes meet twice in Los Angeles, twice in Singapore, once in Shanghai and once in Bangalore," Erickson said.
Erickson said 9 courses are taught by UCLA faculty and 9 are taught by faculty from the National University of Singapore, which he said he thinks is one of the most highly regarded business schools in Asia.
Erickson said in addition to learning inside the classroom, the program gives students an opportunity for exposure to the local business community through site visits and guest speakers.
Students also have a chance to interact with client companies to solve real management problems, Erickson said.
"It wouldn't make much sense if we went to India or China and just sat in a classroom," he said. "Here at the business school, everything we do is about practical application."
Ludwig Pelzer, a member of the 2007 graduating class, said he is originally from Germany but now lives and works in Singapore, where he is responsible for the business development for the Asia, Pacific and Middle East regions of German cargo company Lufthansa.
Pelzer said he appreciates that the layout of the program does not impede his day-to-day work.
"It's every 3 months so there is plenty of time to look after my work," he said.
Haugen said 80 percent of his business is in Asia and he found the program to be a very good fit for his business because of its focus on Asia by focusing on Asian business models and giving students hands-on experience on the continent.
He said he travels frequently for business and he enjoyed visiting Bangalore in India.
"I think there was a component of the culture that kind of came in. There were always students that were from the local area so you'd get exposed to the culture," he said.
Krupal Swami, a member of the 2007 graduating class who works for an information technology consulting company, said she does not believe someone can be in the workforce and not be impacted by the Asian economy.
Because of the investments that companies are making in India and China, their middle class is rising and their middle class is comprised of about 250 million to 300 million people, which is roughly the size of the U.S. population, Swami said.
Hans Schollhammer, professor and chairman of the international management program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, has been a professor for the program since the beginning.
He said the diversity of the backgrounds of the students and the experiences they bring to the program are the most appealing parts of the program.
Schollhammer said he teaches management of innovation in larger organizations and he hopes what he teaches will give the students further entrepreneurial skills they can apply when running their own companies.
Some students said the networking skills they gained from the program are very valuable.
Bharath Chinamanthur, a graduate of the 2007 MBA class, heard about the program through an advertisement in The Economist and said he thinks a very valuable part of the program is the presence of the faculty outside of the classroom.
"I remember other programs and other places where faculty come and teach and leave, versus here the faculty stay with you for the entire two weeks so you can talk to them during the breaks and you can talk to them during lunch and dinner, and I think that's a very special and uncommon thing," he said.