What I am going to talk about is related to more of a practical or business aspect. It is the equivalent of what one can learn from his Summer Internship - focused more on business applications and real-world scenarios than regular classroom type scenario. I am going to speak about the course on "International Business Practices", which is being offered at IIM Trichy.
What? All this is just about a course?
To a great extent, yes. However, hold your breath, because this is just NOT a course.
This course is currently taught in some old IIMs and an extremely limited set of new IIMs. With the addition of International Business Practices as an elective course, IIM Trichy joins the league of IIMs offering the students a chance to focus specially in the area International Business.
As we all know, in the age of globalisation, despite the temporary hiccups of protectionism, International trade and business is here to stay. Budding managers, like the cohort of MBA students, who will soon be joining the global workforce and will get to work on International projects should know the intricacies of international business beforehand, not only for placement point of view, but also to gain a holistic view of the world of global trade and business. This is what is generally expected of the Managers graduating from reputed b-schools.
Ah..!! International Business is just gas. Only the customer here doesn't belong to your own country. No one needs to go for a separate course.
Wrong..!! Negotiation and interaction is just a minuscule part of International Business. International Business comprises of a series of subjects, concepts, frameworks, mechanisms and intricacies like any other course like Operations. It has several avenues to it - ranging from International Marketing to Payments, Technologies, Finance, Economics etc. Just as you cannot equate Sales to Marketing, Accounting to Finance, Recruitment to HR (although in these examples, the former is a subset of the latter), similarly you cannot equate mere negotiation with foreign clients to International Business (again having a subset - superset relationship). So, be rest assured that this course is definitely NOT gas.
It is interesting to know that often you need to be quite creative in solving complex problems in International Business. Generally, the line of thinking for obtaining such solutions can be lateral (innovative solution), derived (using best practices of other industry) or something else. Although frameworks are there, but those come in the solution implementation stage, not conceptualization stage. To obtain the solution itself in international business, you should be quite creative and exploratory. Infact, being creative and being application oriented are desirable traits in case of International Business. As is true in general with studies, rote learning will NOT help here. Remember Baba Ranchhordas of "3 Idiots" movie, anyone..?
OK..!! I get it. But mere theoretical knowledge without exposure or projects is just half-baked and serves little good. Do I get practical International exposure?
YES is the answer to this question. You will get a practical exposure in International Market.
However, at IIM Trichy, we took things way further to facilitate effective learning. How?
Instead of giving a mere "tour" or "showcase" of machinery or operations in a foreign plant or organisation, the course offers a chance to actually work in the actual arena with Projects, akin to the ones offered during Summer Internships. Now anybody in a b-school can relate to the rigours one faces to complete, work and learn from a Summer Internship Project having sacrosanct deadlines and deliverables.
As a part of the course, we were allocated fixed projects to work upon and deliver to reputed, Global organisations in Singapore. The projects made use of quite a lot of concepts, ranging from Market Research to Finance, Operations and Analytics. As can be seen in a typical Summer Internship Project, we were in regular touch with our Mentor Organisation for project updates, deliverables, action plans and more, whether we were in India or in Singapore. To be honest, it was never a "study tour" for us, but was a real "on the job" learning experience.
Had this course not been offered, we would have missed out on a really fascinating learning experience, which would have been quite hard to gain once we passed out of our Institute. The learning is not just limited to cross-cultural interaction. It is about problem-solving, learning the best of the global practices in various walks of an organization, ways to implement them in India and the contrast of the issues or problems they are trying to address as of now vs the ones we in India are trying to address when it comes to Business studies.
So, if you want an "exhibition", "foreign study tour" or some time to "chill out", then this course is definitely NOT meant for you. This course is going to be highly rigorous. If you opt for it, you will have to get out of your comfort zone and put in the best of your efforts.
Wow! Impressive! I am ready to take up the challenge and expand my learning horizon.
Great! You should then opt for this course when it is offered in the Second Year. At IIM Trichy, the course is as an elective in Term IV, meaning that you have to bid for the same as per the usual bidding rules in an IIM. Refer the rules, regulations and discussions with the faculty, prior to opting for the course.
So, that pretty sums up the "Introduction" to the course on International Business Practices in IIM Trichy. With this, we add one more dimension to providing a practical Global exposure to the students and helping them utilise the learning in their Corporate Lives.