You can talk about global economic woes, wring your hands about Greece and the European Union, or worry over the slowdown in China.
But Jim Glassman says he isn’t sure there’s cause for such concern.
During the Wake Forest Schools of Business Global Strategies Event on Sept. 20 at Charlotte Center, Glassman, Head Economist and Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase, offered this message for business leaders who worry about the global economic picture right now:
“You’ve never seen better,” he said. “This to me is the face of globalization: If sleeping giants just wake up and decide they want to develop åÉ and they have the ability, by opening up borders, to tap the international business community, that puts the business sector on the front lines. It’s why I would be embarrassed to be pessimistic about the broad global things that are happening.”
The Global Strategies Event, hosted by the WFU Charlotte International Club and the WFU Charlotte Market Readiness and Employment Team, brought together business experts from around the world to share their perspectives on the cultural impact of doing business globally and assessing the global financial future.
“It is one of our thrusts at the business school to bring an understanding of global interests to our students,” said Dr. Ken Middaugh II, Associate Dean for Executive Education and Working Professional Programs. “Everything from sourcing internationally to selling internationally to understanding the cultures.”
Glassman, who has worked at the Federal Reserve Board and is part of the National Association of Business Economists’ panel of macro-economic forecasters, said such knowledge is vital for today’s MBA students.
Ten years ago, when he would ask a U.S. client about doing business abroad, they would speak only about low production costs.
“They finally get it,” he said. “It’s not so much about low-cost production. It’s the world is opening up – and there are new markets and new opportunities opening up.
“The lights are coming on across Asia and that’s starting to spread, and we’re hearing more and more about Africa,” he said. “This is a most exciting time in terms of the global economy. åÉ I think we’re going to come to think of this period in the same way we think of the Renaissance.”
Jorge Gonzalez, an audit manager at Wells Fargo who is finishing his first year of the MBA program at WFU, said Glassman’s keynote gave him just what he wanted from attending the Global Strategies Event: “a competitor’s perspective.”
“I cover the international side of our business, and I wanted to get other companies’ perspectives,” said Gonzalez, who is from Nicaragua but has lived in Charlotte for nine years.
Often, one of the most significant barriers to expanding businesses globally is a lack of understanding of a country’s culture. The regulatory and licensing systems in many foreign countries are complicated and time-consuming – and it often takes multiple years before a U.S. company can clear the hurdles.
So it’s important to build relationships before you start the process, and all along the way, said Michael Gardner, Principal in Financial Advisory Services at Ernst & Young.
“Everyone’s looking for an opportunity internationally, but the barriers are pretty hard,” he said. “The block-and-tackling comes down to abiding by their laws åÉ and really ingratiating yourself to the regulatory process.”
Indeed, employees’ understanding of other cultures can help – and hinder – their career in the global economy. Every panelist at the Global Strategies Event recommended an overseas assignment for everyone – even if for only a few weeks.
“Your resume will get you a good job, but the individuals who get the raises and the promotions are the real critical thinkers,” said Paula Sanders, Director of Human Resources and Consumer Support at Britax Child Safety. “If they can’t think outside of their box, then they won’t go far in our organization. You’ve gotta be able to think outside of your discipline. Individuals who do well in their discipline do well in their discipline. Individuals who think outside of their discipline do well in business.”
The Global Strategies panelists offered students “insight into everything – what kind of deals to go for, how culture impacts the deal,” said Krishna Muluguru, a full-time MBA candidate who traveled from Winston-Salem to participate in the event.
“Events like this really help us meet employers,” he said. “It’s a very good experience for me to get to talk with potential employers.”
But Todd Johnson, Executive Director of WFU Charlotte Center, said events like Global Strategies also help the school achieve another goal: “To be known as the academic business thought leader for the Charlotte region.”