Study Tours: A Two-Way Road
Recently the HSE Higher School of Management welcomed a group of students from the Johnson School of Management, Cornell University, USA, which specializes in MBA programmes. Elena Yankova, Senior Lecturer of Management, Cornell University, and the head of the group, and Sergey Filonovich, Dean of the HSE Higher School of Management, told us about the study tour programme.
— Elena, what was the purpose of this Cornell University students’ visit to the HSE?
Elena Yankova: Study tours are an elective part of the educational programme for Cornell University students, and they get credits from it. As part of a study tour, the students get to know the specifics of economic and business development in different countries; over the last few years our students have visited India, China, Bulgaria, Turkey, Colombia, Brazil, Japan and South Korea. The administration of our School considers it important to give students the opportunity to get practical experience in the study of the foreign business, its national, political, economic, social and cultural specifics, as well as the conditions and principles of strategic management in various companies.
The programme of the visit includes different meetings, tasks and cultural events for which the students prepare beforehand by reading papers and attending a small course of lectures on the welcoming country before leaving the U.S. During the trip the students compare the knowledge they get before the visit with their personal experience of the country. After they return home they write an essay which is the final task of the study tour, and get the credits.
Unfortunately the university cannot pay for such trips and only covers a small part of the costs, that’s why the students pay for the study tours themselves, which proves their real dedication to such educational trips.
— How did the cooperation between the Higher School of Economics and the Cornell University start?
Elena Yankova: About a year ago, when Larisa Taradina, Deputy Head of the HSE Office for International Development, came to Cornell University, I was searching for some contacts in Russian universities in order to organize our students’ trip to Russia. We met, talked and were sure that the cooperation between our universities could be very useful for both sides, since both universities are seriously interested in innovative development and international partnership. As a result, I brought 8 students to Moscow. I think that the next year the group will be larger.
— What, specifically, did the Cornell students study at the HSE and generally in Russia?
Elena Yankova: As usually, we started the programme of the visit to Russia with a small introductory lecture course. The first review lecture on Russian economy was read by Boris Kuznetsov, Professor at the HSE Faculty of Economics, then Professor Sergey Filonovich read a lecture on the basics and comparative specifics of Russian management. At the Saint-Petersburg branch of the HSE Zhanna Kormina, Head of Faculty of Sociology Department of Human Sciences read a final lecture on urban history and socio-economic development.
In addition to the lectures, we are planning some visits to the offices of various Russian companies, such as the local KPMG subsidiary, VTB bank, RAO ‘Energeticheskie Systemi Vostoka’, Glance Company which designs produces and sells women’s fashion clothes, and OK hypermarket. In addition to this, in Saint Petersburg we are planning to meet the CEO of one of the largest hotel networks who is also a Cornell University graduate.
The meeting at the headquarters of RAO ‘Energeticheskie Systemi Vostoka’ will be held together with Russian master’s students of the HSE Faculty of Management, and after the briefing with company managers we are planning to carry out a team project on implementation of one specific business task which will be finished with student presentations.
Most of our students are interested in an international business career, that’s why it is important for them to learn to work in a multicultural environment and to consider the national specifics of communication in different countries. The trip to Russia is undoubtedly an important part of their training necessary for a successful future career of our students.
— Dr. Filonovich, please tell us more about the study tours system, and about what it means for the HSE – to host foreign students who are coming for such visits?
Sergey Filonovich: As we know, many leading business schools of Europe and the U.S. are introducing these study tours in their MBA programmes. For example, two years ago we hosted students from the British Cranfield University School of Management. Then the financial crisis erupted, and our British colleagues cut the list of countries where they send their students. But recently I’ve received a letter which says that they are again considering coming to Russia in 2012. I’d like to mention that the cooperation with this university started when we created our business school. As a result, 16 HSE teachers went on 10-day visits to Great Britain. Those trips helped us make sure that the programmes and courses which we developed for our business school were in line with the high level and requirements adopted at the Western business schools. It happened 12 years ago, and today our new young teachers also need a similar ‘upgrade’.
We hope that the Cornell University students’ study tour will be a start of a promising and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two universities. We are very glad that we have managed to provide an interesting programme for them, taking into consideration the students’ wishes to see companies of different profile and status. I’d like to emphasize that no companies refused to welcome this foreign group of visitors. This means that Russian businessmen are interested in the opinion of American students about their activities. I think that this can also improve the HSE’s standing in the eyes of the companies’ management.
The globalization era sets its game rules, and Russia which is member of the BRICS, attracts the serious attention of business school graduates from all over the world, despite our investment climate, which is not the most favourable. If Cornell University students take back good impressions of their Russian trip, then hopefully next year, it won’t be 8 students who come here but many more.
Speaking about Russian MBA students, since they are studying part-time and are considerably older than their American counterparts, we are not planning to organize such tours to the U.S. for them. But we are very interested in the opportunity for some of our teachers to go for an internship to the Cornell University and master some new approaches to teaching their disciplines. I think that in the end this project with Cornell University will become a ‘two-way road’.
Valentina Gruzintseva, HSE News Service
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