Global positioning

Fletcher to launch international business degree program

Thanks to a $5 million gift from Swiss businessman and philanthropist Thomas Schmidheiny, the Fletcher School plans to launch a two-year interdisciplinary master’s degree program in international management in the fall of 2008.

Swiss businessman Thomas Schmidheiny says his $5 million gift to the Fletcher School is an investment in the future. © ELLEN CALLAWAY

The decision to create the program arises out of a belief that in today’s global marketplace, core business skills alone are not enough and that successful leaders must have interdisciplinary knowledge connecting business and international affairs. The new Master of Science in International Management Program is designed to close the gap between more traditional “ethnocentric” MBA programs and more general master’s programs in international affairs.

In making his gift, Schmidheiny said, “The dynamic international environment and the increase in international business transactions are providing more professional opportunities worldwide. Additionally, the nexus between the public and private sector is becoming stronger and increasingly critical in effecting change. I believe that the Fletcher School has an important role to play in facilitating these changes.”

The international arena
Fletcher Dean Stephen W. Bosworth commented, “The changes in the global environment today mean that in order to lead effectively in the 21st century, business leaders must have well-developed management skills as well as a broad and deep understanding of the international arena.”

Since its founding in 1933, the Fletcher School has offered coursework and programming in international business. Over the last decade, approximately 30 percent of Fletcher graduates have chosen careers in international business in areas such as consulting, financial services and management. In addition, Fletcher graduates hold leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors worldwide. In business and finance alone, Fletcher alumni can be found working in companies all over the world, including AIG, Citigroup, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Archer Daniels Midland Co., Lazard, Shell Oil Co., Hitachi, Arab Bank Corp., Mercer Oliver Wyman and General Electric.

A full degree program will enable students to leverage Fletcher’s resources and reputation for excellence in international affairs with increasing international opportunities and challenges. The initial student enrollment will be 25, expanding to a steady state of 40 students. Several new international business and finance faculty members will be hired during the first five years. An important component of the program will be to offer generous financial aid to most students.

In recognition of new and important players in the global economy, such as Brazil, China and India, the program will feature an interdisciplinary Center for Emerging Market Enterprises, dealing with issues such as risk in global asset management, micro-finance and development economics, strategic challenges for emerging markets-based multinationals and corporate governance in emerging capital markets. It will also initiate an executive training module on the finance and law of emerging capital markets and sponsor applied research in how best to nurture the “emergence process.”

Equipped for a new world
Schmidheiny is chairman of Spectrum Value Management Ltd., which is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. As CEO for 25 years, he led Holcim of Switzerland to global prominence as the world’s leading cement, concrete and aggregates company. He holds an engineering degree from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, an MBA from IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, and an honorary doctor of business administration degree from Tufts University.

“In a world of endless change, future generations of Fletcher students must be equipped with the skills to succeed in the new world for which knowledge of international affairs, language and culture are essential,” Schmidheiny said. “My gift is intended as an investment in their future—and ours.”