The Marshall School of Business, at the University of Southern California, announced that Dean Randolph W. Westerfield and 50 business professionals enrolled in its part-time MBA program will travel to Mexico City and Havana, Cuba, to study business practices and strategies employed for foreign investment on March 9-18.
Cuba's willingness to host students in USC's MBA for Professionals and Managers Program (MBA.PM) is further evidence of its interests in opening the country and improving its economy by attracting foreign investment.
The trip was arranged in cooperation with Cuba's Centro de Promocion de Inversiones (CPI), part of the Ministry for Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation (MINVEC) that oversees foreign investment for the embargoed Caribbean nation, and with the approval of the U.S. Treasury Department.
Said Dean Westerfield: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Americans to observe firsthand the unique economic and business dynamics at work in Cuba. The Marshall School is committed to finding the most appropriate method for teaching. When it comes to international business, the right method is to be there."
Students traveling with Dean Westerfield are all fully employed executives, many with major corporations in Southern California. The trip, called PM.GLOBE, exposes students to a mix of executive/expert presentations and company site-visits, typically in Shanghai, Tokyo and Mexico City.
Said Carl Voigt, Marshall Associate Dean of Executive MBA & MBA.PM Programs and associate professor of management and organization, "Because of what is happening in Cuba and Mexico today, it is likely our students will be doing business with these countries in the future, or with international companies pursuing business in Cuba. Our graduate students must be well-prepared for the many possible business environments they may face in the new century."
In Mexico City, students will meet with Mexican business leaders and American businesspersons working in the country. Supermarket chain Gigante, beverage exporters Gupo Modelo, residential developers Grupo Sadasi and mortgage lender Su Casita will be among companies making presentations to USC business students during a three-day stay.
The Dean will join MBA.PM students continuing to Havana for three days, during which time they will tour the international Free Zone, Cuba's Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, and meet with officials in state tourism agencies, the Ministry of Economics, and CPI, as well as foreign nationals in partnership with the country.
Negotiations to include Havana as a study location were first initiated last fall when Marshall School real estate professor David Dale-Johnson traveled to Cuba and proposed the trip to authorities there. Dale-Johnson serves as faculty advisor for the PM.GLOBE trip, specializing in Mexico and Latin America.
"Typically, academic travel to Havana is arranged in cooperation with Cuban education authorities or third-party entities," said Dale-Johnson. "Working with its foreign investment office suggests Cuba views our trip as a distinct business excursion. Travel by other American schools has been more clearly cultural or academic in nature."
The PM.GLOBE trip is the culmination of classes in macroeconomics and intensive country-specific training taught in the nationally seventh-ranked graduate program (U.S. News & World Report, 2000). "With PM.GLOBE, we are interested in finding learning laboratories that take our students outside their comfort zone," said Voigt, "They have to rely on their full abilities of analysis and see how business translates across cultures."