Kelley Programs Prepare Students to Thrive in Global Economy

On Thursday, April 23, Indianapolis recognizes World Trade Day — an annual opportunity to highlight the impact of global markets on the regional economy, and encourage more local companies to pursue customers and partnerships in international markets.

Graduates of the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis are well aware of the region’s growing international focus. Nine of every 10 Kelley Indianapolis students will stay in Central Indiana after earning their degrees — but even though their addresses are local, their careers are increasingly global: Hoosier employers demand the global business knowledge that’s become an important part of the Kelley experience.

Indiana companies are selling more goods to international companies than ever before; the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce valued the state’s 2014 exports at a record-setting $35.5 billion. More than half those exports come from the Indianapolis metro area, also home to nearly 500 foreign-owned companies that account for nearly 50,000 local jobs (ranking Indianapolis 16th out of the nation’s 100 largest regions in employment from foreign ventures).

Earlier this year, the Chamber partnered with the Brookings Institution to announce a regional export strategy, aiming to boost the number of Indy-area exporters by 20 percent. The fact that 80 percent of the world’s buying power now resides outside the United States will continue to lure more local companies into overseas markets.

These trends mean growing demand for business professionals with international perspective. The Chamber’s export plan identifies developing and attracting this talent as a top priority for the region’s up-and-coming exporters. And employers who already boast a global footprint — industry powerhouses like Eli Lilly, Cummins, Allison Transmission, Roche, Dow AgroSciences and others — continue to grow and recruit.

The Kelley School of Business Indianapolis has built partnerships around the world to provide this perspective, offering students real-world business experiences in Brazil, Russia, and other critical markets. For the past 15 years, Kelley Indianapolis students have regularly traveled to China for executive meetings and hands-on consulting projects with enterprises making the challenging transition to the free market.

Earlier this spring, students from the Business of Medicine MBA program traveled to India — practicing physicians exploring how the healthcare marketplace works in what will soon be the world’s fastest-growing economy (surpassing China). Over Spring Break, undergraduate Kelley students learned about the exciting field of sports economics in Spain — visiting Adidas Soccer, global sports management leader Doma Sports, and more. Other business undergrads traveled to our oldest trading partner, the UK, by way of London, while MBA students explored one of Indiana’s up-and-coming export markets, Brazil.

Kelley also has established student exchange partnerships with a growing list of overseas institutions, including Trisakti University in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China. The longest-standing foreign exchange with the Indianapolis campus takes undergraduates to Strasbourg, France, where they visit Mercedes Benz, Smart Car, Weberhaus, and Nestle Chocolate among others.

The appetite for international experience also shows itself in a growing number of Kelley Indianapolis undergrads choosing study abroad opportunities. From 2004 to 2014, exactly 100 business students studied abroad, with an upward trend over the decade — but in 2015, there was a rush of global interest: 65 Kelley students have studied abroad during the spring semester, and four more will spend four weeks in Strasbourg in June.

In short, the curriculum and worldwide reach of the Kelley School’s international programs have grown to match the international ambitions of our regional economy. As our employers continue to seek talent with global expertise, Kelley will prepare graduates with knowledge that extends beyond the U.S. market — even if their careers are based right here in Central Indiana.