Geography Lessons

Roosevelt Dillard’s career has taken him a long way from his hometown of Detroit. A program manager with Corning Inc., maker of specialty glass and ceramics components for high-technology systems, Dillard ran one of the company’s engineering groups in Japan for more than three years, and his passport got a few more stamps when he was tapped to attend an international executive education program that jetted him off to the Czech Republic and India. He is hoping that the program will take his career places at the company, too.

Dillard, who manages a group of 40-plus employees in developing large-size display sheets of glass for use in LCDs, screen monitors, and cell phones, attended the Global Leadership 2020 program offered by Dartmouth College’s Amos Tuck School of Business. Executives in the program packed their bags for three modules that took them to Prague, Czech Republic; Hyderabad, India; and Dartmouth’s campus in Hanover, New Hampshire.

“It broadened my perspective and made me more appreciative and accepting of the way others do business, not just from a business sense but also from a respect for different cultures. Applying that [appreciation] in my day-to-day responsibilities has given me a whole other set of tools,” Dillard says.

Dillard attended the program in 2003 with seven other managers from a variety of Corning’s businesses, along with executives from companies that belong to Tuck’s Global Leadership 2020 Consortium, including John Deere Inc. and Colgate-Palmolive.

The executives spent 10 days in each location over a period of nine months, during which local government officials, business leaders, and professors taught them the intricacies and customs of doing business in the region. They also ventured out to experience the local cultures and speak directly with local businesspeople. What’s one lesson Dillard has incorporated into his business dealings? He now has all of his business documents translated so that his messages are correctly communicated. “I never really understood the [global] business climate until I went through that program,” he says.

The program, begun in 1998, immerses executives in the local cultures of emerging markets, introduces them to the process of cross-cultural business, and exposes them to the perspective of local leaders–experiences that could take years to gain during the normal course of a career.

Members of the consortium help design the program. “They are trying to inculcate a global mind-set among their next-generation leaders, people who will go to China and India and other markets that aren’t native to them and lead functions and businesses,” says Clark Callahan, executive director of executive education at Tuck.

Programs like Tuck’s are growing in popularity as companies compete to do business on a global scale, says John Fernandes, president and chief executive of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a global organization of business schools and B-school accrediting groups. “It’s a big market right now. It’s [about] how to make a global leader quickly,” he says.

American executives, long focused on competing in the domestic market, are now expected to have knowledge of markets beyond U.S. borders. “This