International business insights and global technologies blend classroom theory with real-world practice

Executive Master of Science and Technology Leadership (EMSTL) Program Director Sandra Smith heads to South Korea next week with the EMSTL 2018 cohort and a delegation of Brown senior leaders, including Dean of the School of Professional Studies and VP for Strategic Initiatives Karen Sibley, Brown Chair of East Asian Studies and Associate Professor Hye-Sook Wang, and EMSTL Executive Academic Director and Professor of Engineering and Medical Sciences Anubhav Tripathi.

We interviewed Smith to find out what students should expect to learn from the top executives they’ll meet with from companies like Hyundai and Samsung, and from a country that transformed itself from an impoverished society ravaged by war in the 1950s to a global high-tech powerhouse.

What can you tell us about the South Korea curriculum?

“The South Korea immersion session is an important and exciting component of the Global Innovation curriculum in EMSTL. The visit fits within a course designed to develop innovative global leaders who can more effectively manage and work within globally-dispersed teams. It aims to help students develop those capacities using South Korea as a great laboratory.

In preparation for the trip next week, the cohort will spend this week studying with the Brown Chair of East Asian Studies Hye-Sook Wang to learn about the country’s culture, history, and business ecosystem.

When students arrive in Seoul, they’ll continue their studies with faculty from the Graduate School of Business and Engineering and Arts Department from the Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), one of the top universities in the country.

The focus of their study will be on examining the ecosystem for technological innovation in South Korea and the factors that drive its success. Students will understand how Korean culture and its unique characteristics have influenced Korea’s rise as one of the most technologically advanced and educated nations worldwide. Also, they will analyze the role of Chaebol (conglomerate) structure for corporate organizations and their impact on technological innovation and economic growth.”

What corporate experiences will your professional students have?

“One of the most exciting and unique aspects of this immersion week will be the highly curated set of visits to leading companies in which students will have the opportunity to interact with management and explore issues they have studied during the course.

I’m particularly thankful to Chief Innovation Officer and Executive VP at Hyundai Motor Group Youngcho Chi – a Brown alum and member of the EMSTL Advisory committee – who personally forged meetings for the cohort with executives at Hyundai.”

What is the value of the South Korean experience for leading tech innovation?

“Getting out of an obsolete US-centric view of the world is critical for tech leadership in a global economy. This first-hand experience gives leaders an edge to capitalize on Asia’s success and for tapping into new sources of innovation and excellence across the globe.

It’s one thing to study global issues. It’s another to live them. To be effective as a leader on a global scale, you need to get yourself out of your culture and norms. You need to understand the broader picture of the innovation ecosystem as well as the nuances of conducting business locally.

This framework is critical for transcending a US-centric viewpoint regardless of where you’re advancing your business in the world and for becoming a more sophisticated and effective global leader.”


To learn more about the South Korea experience, listen to this podcast with EMSTL Program Director Sandra Smith.

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