Andrea Sironi, rector of Milan’s Bocconi University, one of three partner universities comprising the World Bachelor in Business (WBB), made his first visit to the USC Marshall School of Business on Oct. 11 to meet with fellow WBB representatives and students in the program’s inaugural class.
The WBB partnership, the first undergraduate program of its kind, gives students the opportunity to live and study on three continents and earn degrees from three universities: USC, Bocconi and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
Speaking at a reception on campus, Sironi described students in the first WBB class as “brave pioneers.”
He went on to outline several trends — including the number of exchange students more than doubling from 2 million in 2010 to 4.5 million in 2012 and online programs that attract students from around the globe — that illustrate a growing desire for international experience, which will serve WBB graduates well.
“What do these trends have in common? They all reflect the increasing global nature of the economic and social world we live in,” Sironi said. “In some way all of these trends reflect a growing demand on the student side for a diversified, international education experience, but also a stronger and stronger demand on the employer side, in multinational corporations and the private sector, to get graduates who have been exposed to different cultures and learning models and diverse backgrounds.”
Sironi was introduced by Deborah MacInnis, vice dean for undergraduate programs at USC Marshall, and joined by his colleagues Carlo Altomonte, WBB academic director at Bocconi; Steven Nason, professor of business practice and director of WBB for HKUST, where the students will spend their second year in the program; and Ty Callahan, professor of clinical finance and business economics and academic director of WBB at USC Marshall.
Several prominent USC Marshall alumni who have studied and lived abroad also met the WBB class, with Reon Roski ’86, managing director and board member of Majestic Realty Co. and member of the USC Marshall Board of Leaders, addressing the gathering of students and leading academics.
“I’m so jealous,” Roski joked, before recounting her experience as part of the first USC Marshall class to go to China in 1983 and how it shaped her career and life. “The whole world opened up for me. I learned how to negotiate within different cultures and countries and learned so many different techniques. You are going to three great places where you will be able to compare their similarities and contrast their differences.”
The reception followed an orientation session where Altomonte and Nason gave students — who began the program at USC Marshall this fall — a better sense of the academic and social landscapes that awaited them in Italy and Hong Kong.
“You are all part of this entrepreneurial startup venture called the WBB,” Callahan said, “and it has a lot of characteristics of what startups have.”
After completing their first academic year at USC Marshall, where they will explore the emerging relationships between technology and entertainment, WBB students will move on to HKUST, where they will focus on global finance, and in the third year will consolidate their economic and management knowledge at Bocconi as they study the complexities of integrating the countries of the European Union. The fourth year will be spent at the partner university of their choice.
The inaugural 44-member WBB class has participants from 13 countries representing Asia, Europe and the United States.