June 22, 2017
The first cohort of the University of South Carolina and the National Taiwan Normal University’s Double-Degree Program for Executive International MBA (DIMBA) wrapped up their six weeks in Columbia to head back to Taiwan to complete their one-year degree. Since September of 2016, these seven business professionals have banded together in a classroom setting to experience the teaching of both Moore School and NTNU professors, giving them a balance of Western and Eastern perspectives.
“The communication with different types of people from different cultures has been the most impactful part of the program,” said Chia-Hung Lin, a Taiwanese student with a background in industrial engineering. “I never thought I would be included in something like this.”
The international collaboration between universities is part of Taiwan’s Ministry of Education’s Innovation project geared toward the global “pooling of resources.” While most of this program does take place in Taipei, Taiwan, the teaching responsibilities are split evenly between the Moore School and NTNU. The structure of the class also allows some of the students to continue working while completing their double degrees.
“It’s been an opportunity for a truly immersive cultural experience,” said Hilary Bothma, who plans to return to consulting work in California once she completes the program. “The international cultural aspect is something you can’t learn from a textbook.”
The combination of professors from both universities and the shift in classroom setting partway through the program provides multiple perspectives on the business issues covered in the curriculum. More than that, the class discussions encourage open-mindedness because of the experiences each student brings.
“You’re not only being taught in a diverse environment, but you’re also experiencing diversity in the classroom,” said Dominick Finlayson, a founder of Concierge Care Services (Hong Kong) Limited, which serves the medical tourism industry in the Asia-Pacific region. The most appealing part of the program to him is how much you can learn in a short time.
“A real advantage of the program is that it’s two degrees in one year,” he said.
After completing their degrees in September, the students will return full-time to the professional world more equipped to accomplish their business goals. Many of the current students are founders of their own firms addressing new international markets. According to David Hudgens, the Moore School faculty director for DIMBA, the second cohort begins in September of this year and will likely be larger than the first.
“The completion of the first year of our collaboration marks an important threshold in the partnership,” he said. “DIMBA is enriching and unique for this group of students as the program format traverses both cultural and geographical landscapes to address important contexts and issues in international business. Our current students, future students and the two university partners in this collaboration are vital stakeholders in constructing this important experience. We are excited about the opportunities ahead for all.”
By Madeleine Vath