Online MBA – International Management: What Makes It Different

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Global business isn’t just a branch of the enterprise world — in many industries, it’s simply the way things operate. Considering that not even a deadly pandemic could break the bonds that tie international business together, it’s clear that the movement toward overseas connections is here to stay.

A businesswoman draws a map of the world.

By becoming an expert in the cultural, technological, legal, and logistical challenges and opportunities that define global business, an employee can aim for a fulfilling career in management. Those who see these jobs in their future should build experience that directly targets these facets of work.

This is where a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in international management can make a positive impact by delivering a deep dive into cutting-edge best practices and insights specifically related to the global marketplace. It’s worth considering what makes this MBA track special and to investigate the corporate factors that make international business management such a compelling field.

What Is the State of Global Business?

Alliances between companies, corporate expansion to multiple global offices, and deeply interconnected supply chains are just a few of the ways in which international business connections are expanding today. These have become such familiar factors within the world marketplace that it’s easy to take them for granted. When thinking about international business management in terms of its own challenges and opportunities, however, patterns quickly emerge.

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic tested companies’ global connections, with trade routes shuttering temporarily and various markets suffering wildly different levels of infection and closures. The links between nations and organizations did not break, and the international climate remains rich with opportunity.

Writing for The World Financial Review, global consultant Charles Hollis explained that positive signs for global business include a new focus on service exports, as well as a prioritization of environmental matters that may help boost trade and employment across global markets. These prevailing positive trends are necessary to counteract more challenging issues, such as national economies that value protectionism over international trade.

When evaluating whether a career in global business management is right for an individual, the challenges are almost more important to consider than the opportunities. This is because finding creative and effective ways to overcome those difficulties is the crux of working for an international company, where employees can prove themselves and excel.

Challenges of International Management

Perhaps the most prevalent issue facing global operations is the danger of broken lines of communication. This is a major challenge because there are multiple forms of miscommunication. While internal teams may struggle to synchronize their efforts across time zones, technology platforms, and cultural norms, businesses might also find themselves out of touch with business partners and customers around the world.

The Houston Chronicle highlighted both kinds of communication difficulties. To tackle internal and external disconnect, firms with many offices will need to craft centralized technology strategies to get their employees on the same page. For external communication matters, it pays to have team members delve into cultural studies. It’s easy to see how these needs open opportunities for knowledgeable employees to step up and make a positive impact, taking the lead on tech or localization efforts.

Of course, some of the challenges of international commerce and business operations are larger-scale issues that go beyond a single company’s ability to control. For instance, in his World Financial Review piece, Hollis mentioned politically unstable situations as major risk factors for businesses hoping to expand into specific markets. Legal barriers between countries could limit companies’ ability to effectively expand there. Becoming an expert in geopolitics is therefore a way to stand out in modern global business.

Opportunities in International Management

While there are plenty of ongoing issues preventing businesses from entering the global economy as quickly as they’d like, from cultural differences and tech disconnect to political clashes and foreign policy, there are plenty of advantages that keep them coming back. Considering the rise in international corporate operations, it’s clear that there is a clear incentive for companies to battle through the difficulties.

The clearest reason to take a global perspective is to open new markets for products, with the ability to diversify holdings coming in a close second. The Business Journals highlighted both of these priorities and explained that massive U.S. companies such as Nike and IBM have Dutch offices specifically to court customers in the European Union more effectively. Along similar lines, Coca-Cola has taken to acquiring regionally successful beverage brands to diversify its own offerings.

Companies are also interested in tapping into global talent bases, and with the rise of remote work, this is a more direct process than ever before. When a company has mastered global operations, it has access to more potential employees, a wider customer base, and a vast stable of products to offer.

The possible upside of these international endeavors is clear to see, and there is value in being an employee with the knowledge and experience to help them thrive. When a company tries to move into new markets without the right team, the effort may become a costly mistake. This shows a path through which ambitious managers may be able to advance their careers: by aiming for an international-focused job.

What Are Top Employment Opportunities in International Management?

Global corporations need employees with a variety of specific skill sets and interests. This means there are numerous potential paths into these highly important roles, and workers aiming for these roles may have success finding one that matches their own vision for their career. The following are just a sampling of the many roles in this area:

  • Sales and marketing leader: Exporting a marketing campaign or sales strategy to another region requires care, focus, and lots of research. Businesses that try their domestic approaches in overseas markets may find they are out of touch with the preferences and needs of their audiences. The Balance explained that under the marketing umbrella, an employee could find work as an engagement director, multilingual sales representative, compliance leader, international sales manager, or one of a variety of other titles.
  • Financial controller: To thrive financially as they expand beyond their primary markets, companies need dedicated teams of financial experts to give them actionable insights on the conditions they’ll face. Finance departments that are ready for international expansion should be well staffed with employees who understand the compliance and taxation matters they’ll face, along with professionals to manage the budget, lead audits, and more.
  • Logistics director: Add cross-border trade to a supply chain and the entire system becomes more complex immediately. This is where organizations need help from experienced professionals who understand customs practices, tariffs, and the geopolitical factors that lead to trade complexity. All of these specific skills must be accompanied by an old-fashioned understanding of shipping best practices. The Balance listed export specialists, contract managers, and purchasing coordinators among the logistics-based roles at international organizations.
  • Global account manager: Whether they’re overseeing customer relationships or brokering deals with cross-border business partners, account managers will have an important part to play at a globalizing company. These professionals need to have communication and collaboration skills, alongside a clear knowledge of the territories where their accounts reside. To guide projects to successful outcomes, these employees may have to coordinate with employees around the world.

Business leaders interested in one of these roles or any position that requires global business expertise can tailor their graduate degree-level education to build knowledge and experience focusing on international markets. As for employees seeking to become leaders in a more general sense, pursuing MBA degrees may be the logical choice. MBA programs that offer concentrations in international management are specifically designed to be a part of such career paths.

What Is an MBA in International Management?

Earning an MBA with a concentration in international management is one of the most direct ways to get acquainted with the latest practices and priorities facing global corporate leaders today. Prospective participants should make sure their chosen international management program is offered by an accredited and respected school of business, taught by experienced faculty, and designed to give in-depth insights about both the challenges and the opportunities of running an international corporation.

By combining core MBA courses with a tailored list of electives based on global business management, completing this specialized degree program sends a message to hiring managers that a graduate is invested in the nuances of international management and has the expertise to back up their interest.

The MBA in International Management Curriculum

Northeastern University’s D’Amore McKim School of Business offers an international management concentration for its 100% online Master of Business Administration program, allowing participants to grasp the cultural, financial, and legal complexities of operating across international borders. The courses within this curriculum demonstrate the breadth of learning available in an MBA international management concentration, hinting at the wide variety of roles that use this knowledge.

Students in the international management MBA concentration must select at least three elective courses from the following list, allowing them to tailor their studies in global business:

  • International Finance Management: This course is designed to prepare financial managers to take the lead at a multinational corporation, and deals with the details of international financing arrangements, as well as the risks involved. Budgeting and financial control become more complex at international businesses, necessitating this kind of extra knowledge.
  • Cultural Aspects of International Business: Misunderstandings or oversights regarding cultural differences can lead to failed marketing campaigns, missed deal opportunities, and more. This course is designed to help students grasp the way national character and corporate culture evolve together.
  • Creating Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through Global Innovation: This deals with the process of innovating and developing new products in the global marketplace. Today’s firms can think about exporting their ideas, but must also guard against overseas competitors, adding to the importance of these lessons.
  • International Marketing: Marketing and sales tactics can’t cross borders unchanged and still have their maximum impact. By taking this course, MBA students learn about how economic, political, and cultural differences between markets can impact their campaigns. Understanding these best practices can help executives make their international efforts a strength, not a liability.
  • Global Supply Chain Management: Being a leader of an international supply chain organization brings added complexities, especially where corporate and government priorities collide. Companies have to understand both the A to B logistics of moving goods and the policy matters that might ease or impede those movements, and they’ll learn to master those practices in this course.
  • Global Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation: MBA students who study global entrepreneurship learn how to create value, develop their market standing sustainability, and apply innovative ideas. Today’s organizations are all searching for the disruptive spark that comes from innovation, and exporting this concept to a global context can be challenging. The course includes real-world examples to prove that its concepts are sound.

Studying for an International Management MBA Online

Online study has become a common model for MBA studies, as the convenience allows participants to remain in their full-time roles while taking classes at times that fit their own busy schedules. The Online MBA at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business makes use of this 100% online system, ensuring that the world-class faculty can deliver in-depth insights to MBA students anywhere as they maintain their careers.

Container ships engage in international trade.

Attaining a role dealing with the complexities of international management can be a high-profile career move, with demanding responsibilities and great opportunities. To make such a leap will likely take both a strong job experience background and the right educational credentials.

By studying for the Online MBA with an international management concentration, a working professional can build their global business expertise while staying busy with their present role. The next steps from there are up to the individual, with the increasingly global nature of corporate operations providing numerous paths to explore.

If you’re ready to learn more about the international management concentration and how it fits into your vision for your career, visit the Online MBA program page.

Recommended Readings:
5 International Business Careers in High Demand
Business Analyst: Roles and Responsibilities

Sources:
The Balance — International Business Careers: Options and Job Titles
World Financial Review — International Trade in 2021: Challenges and Opportunities
Houston Chronicle — Challenges of Operating a Business in a Global Economy
The Business Journals — 5 benefits of international expansion