Master in International Business: Impressions from Students and Lecturers
The Master in International Business programme will have its first graduates at the end of the 2022 academic year. We asked international students and lecturers to share their thoughts and impressions of the programme and its subjects.
The Master in International Business programme (MIB) had its first intake in 2020. The programme aims to train managers capable of utilising the best management practices for the next generation of firms, as well as larger companies in traditional sectors facing challenges brought about by digital transformation and global market changes.
The programme welcomed graduates in the core specialties of economics and management, as well as non-core undergraduate areas such as humanities and social studies. The main appeal of MIB for the first intake of students was its curriculum, which incorporates applied disciplines with a practical focus:
Harry Kingsley Arku, International Student of the Master in International Business Programme
My decision to pursue MIB was based on my aspirations in life and the specially designed curriculum of the programme. MIB is a practical-oriented program that has introduced me to many different aspects of international business.
Some students with backgrounds in economics or business studies wanted to pursue the international component of MIB and learn more about how companies operate abroad. It turns out that excitement overcame any hesitation they had about joining the newly created programme:
Ekaterina Ivanova, International Student of the Master in International Business Programme
Becoming a part of a new programme wasn't scary at all—I was actually looking forward to this moment. I was very glad that I got into HSE University and joined the MIB programme.
In addition to disciplines related to the core fields of economics and management, the curriculum also offers courses in programming languages (such as Python and R), which allow students to gain internationally valued skills in the age of business digitalisation. For those with limited coding experience, this could be challenging, and that is where the programme's supervisors demonstrated their commitment to help MIB students:
'Maybe the most challenging part was dealing with programming disciplines. It was difficult for all of us. We actually discussed the situation with our programme Academic Supervisor Dmitrii Trubnikov and the Study Office. They considered our problem and made some changes to address the issue.' (Ekaterina Ivanova, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
The Master in International Business programme provides total immersion for prospective students who come from non-core areas such as humanities and social sciences. However, even for students with previous background in related spheres, MIB adds to their existing knowledge. Second-year international student Roy Chhando enrolled in programme with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, and found that MIB helped him to improve his academic experience:
Chhando Roy, International Student of the Master in International Business Programme
My Bachelor's courses in Business Administration provided me with all the basics of Marketing and Economics, HR and Finance. So, in a way, it was an introduction to the business field for me. But the Master in International Business programme allows me to learn how companies operate their businesses on the international field in greater depth. I look into many different things.
One of the MIB programme's key features is its practice-oriented approach, which includes internships and various case studies. The programme operates in close collaboration with top companies and firms, which means that students have the opportunity to take part in real consulting projects. The programme has various business partners that offer internship opportunities to all students—including Unilever, Severstal, Nordgold, and more:
'We had an internship with Severstal, a Russian company in heavy industry. The case we were working on was quite challenging for us, but overall, I think that we did great. The company, I believe, was happy with our results.' (Ekaterina Ivanova, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
'Thanks to the MIB programme, I had an opportunity to work with Unilever to assess and evaluate their current learning management system and recommended new ways to improve it. Currently, we are working on a project to help develop a decarbonisation plan for one of their factories in Russia. I have also worked on a project to help promote a new original brand, NSC (Natural Skin Care), on the European market.' (Harry Kingsley Arku, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
The Master in International Business programme started during the COVID-19 pandemic, which inevitably influenced the educational process. As the result, the study process moved from an offline format to a hybrid one, then eventually moved almost completely online. International MIB students reveal some of the difficulties and advantages of the new educational reality:
'One advantage of the online mode for me and other international students on the programme is the convenient and accessible type of education, especially due to the fact that not all international students had an opportunity to come to Russia due to closed borders. The online classes were good and detailed. (Chhando Roy, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
'Personally, for me, it was a rather good experience. For example, I didn't spend much time on the road to university. In the beginning, all of us were quite okay with online studying: we could be at home and dedicate most of our time to things related to study and projects. But after a few months, we started to miss each other and the professors, we felt the urge to communicate in person. So this was a huge disadvantage of the COVID-19 restrictions. (Ekaterina Ivanova, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
The international aspect implied by the programme's name attracts globally oriented applicants, defines the curriculum, and provides an opportunity for immersion in the global economy and a variety of international markets. MIB has a wide-ranging international format and includes an international project seminar. When asked for their opinion on what makes the programme so 'international', the most common answers from the students were the people and the international-focused courses and internships.
'I became friends with a lot of international students from very different countries like Syria, Italy and the UK. When we were discussing some projects and assignments that we needed to solve as part of the study process, I got an idea of how they think about business, and it gave me a wider perspective of different parts of the world and their insights on global markets and economies. It was a wholesome experience that allowed me to get a broad outlook on international business relations.' (Chhando Roy, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
'First of all, it's the people. Our groupmates are from different countries. For example, I'm originally from Kazakhstan, and then I moved to Russia. All of us have interesting backgrounds and life stories, so it makes the study process very international. I believe that the programme's Study Office and supervisors did everything to create a programme that is genuinely oriented around international business and teaches us how to operate in this sphere. (Ekaterina Ivanova, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
'One of the MIB programme's key aspects that makes it "international" is that it is really project oriented. Thanks to this, I had the opportunity to work with industry-leading international companies such as Unilever and Norgold. (Harry Kingsley Arku, International Student of the Master in International Business programme
The soon-to-be alumni of the Master in International Business programme also talked about their plans for after graduation:
'I'm currently working at a startup that operates internationally, but in the future, I would like to try working for a global company like Unilever. My experience at this company on the programme was quite exciting: the department where I took the internship, the employees and the projects were fascinating. All in all, I'm sure that it will be something international, because I have dedicated a lot of time to learn about this sphere and I would like to continue with this.' (Ekaterina Ivanova, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
'Right now, I'm not planning to work in any international company in my home country or abroad, because my focus has shifted towards the Indian banking sector. There is a huge bank in my home country, actually the most popular one, where I would like to work. What I learn on the MIB programme will help me to be well qualified for this job because the bank has international branches in the US and some other countries.' (Chhando Roy, International Student of the Master in International Business programme)
'After graduation, I intend to pursue a PhD in Innovation Management. And beyond that, my future goal is to establish an international consulting firm to support business innovations and make a notable contribution to my home country, Ghana, through the application of Russian and other international experiences.' (Harry Kingsley Arku, International Student of the Master in International Business programme
The programme is especially relevant thanks to its courses, which provide knowledge of how to find new business opportunities and minimise possible risks. Subjects that used to be additions to the general curriculum of a business Master's programme are now becoming a must: competencies in areas like corporate social responsibility, mental health, relocation and material support are essential for industry workers and companies' adaptation to the current business environment. Natalia Volkova, Associate Professor of the HSE University-St Petersburg Department of Management and teacher of the MIB course in 'HR Management in International Companies', reveals some aspects of the curriculum for prospective students.
Natalia Volkova, Associate Professor of the HSE University-St Petersburg Department of Management
The course 'HR Management in International Companies' is not meant for HR specialists only, as it gives future senior managers an idea of what the work of a HR department is about.
— The Master in International Business programme is aimed at training a new generation of managers. We have also heard that the programme offers a special course called 'HR Management in International Companies'. What competences does it offer today's managers?
— It is no secret that many companies today are actively exploring new markets, relocating employees from different regions or even countries, so there is a need for specialists capable of creating and leading effective teams in a multicultural environment. So, to answer your question about competences, the 'HR Management in International Companies' course places a special focus on developing cross-cultural communication skills, but in the context of human resource management. You know, establishing international partnerships is not the same as onboarding international employees and creating a positive working atmosphere within such teams. It takes more time and requires a specific set of skills.
Also, as you may have guessed, this course is not meant for HR specialists only, as it gives future senior managers an idea of what the work of HR department is about. In this course, students learn the reasons behind various HR activities, how they help reach company goals in the global context. Every step taken by HR specialists should benefit the company—to reduce staff turnover and improve work-life balance and wellbeing at work. Today, such things are urgent tasks for managers, especially in a cross-cultural context.
— You have mentioned that employee relocation is becoming an HR trend. What other aspects of the 'HR Management in International Companies' course are growing in demand (for example, mental health support, material support)?
— Firstly, the course is aimed at teaching future managers how to lead international teams and carry out employee relocation. Secondly, it equips students with necessary skills in the international sphere in the age of global challenges and business digitalisation. So, I would say the next trend we can see being developed today is the use of digital tools for communication with global teams. During the course, students have a special task to create dashboards. And our Master's course includes both these aspects.
— Are these skills useful to managers who do not plan to start a career in HR?
— Yes. Possessing human resources skills is crucial for senior managers. It helps them learn how to build relationships with employees. After all, most employees quit their jobs not because of the work itself, but because of failures in a company's managerial decisions. Hence, our course helps students to get a general idea of the working processes of HR departments and how to optimise the work of a senior management team.