If you are going to study for a global business degree, it makes sense to enroll in a university that prioritizes a global outlook in its institutional goals and throughout its programs. Troy University prides itself as Alabama’s International University, meaning that the overall experience for its students, both educationally and socially, has a global focus.
As the Senior Associate Dean at TROY’s Sorrell College of Business, Dr. George Crowley is passionate about helping his students develop their global knowledge and leadership skills as they continue their journeys to careers in an increasingly global environment following graduation.
“When I introduce our college and degree programs to prospective students, I highlight the fact that our largest major here is our global business program,” says Dr. Crowley. “The reason for this — and why it has become such an important part of our mission here — is because it has become virtually impossible to operate in any business these days without having some sort of global component to it.”
Dr. Crowley explains that even the smallest businesses will often have a global element in running their operations.
“We’ve made that shift towards global business here in the college very intentionally as a response to what’s happening in the business community,” says Dr. Crowley. “The world has become so interconnected. Even if you are located here in the state of Alabama, essentially selling goods and services in a relatively small town where everybody is your neighbor, just by virtue of where your suppliers are located or how you get financed, it very quickly becomes a global environment.”
What Is a Global Business Degree?
Dr. Crowley suggests that many potential students might initially be unfamiliar with the concept of a global or international business degree. While the international element of the degree gets “top billing” in the University’s marketing messages, it’s actually the various core concentrations offered within the program that makes TROY’s Global Business Degree Program compelling. The concentrations may look like traditional business disciplines — management, marketing, human resource management, risk management, analytics, and information systems — but what sets them apart from the purely traditional is that they are all informed by the addition of an international perspective.
Olivia Walleser, who graduated in 2019 and is now a General Management Rotational Development Program Colleague for CVS Health & Aetna, chose TROY’s Global Business degree because she has always been fascinated with business and how things get done. “Behind every industry from orthodontics to construction, there is an element of business. I wanted the chance to explore, but also gain a foundational set of skills that could be applied anywhere,” Walleser says.
That concept of business skills that fit any environment is at the heart of the global business degree. “If a student shows up and says ‘I want to be a marketing major,’ they can 100% come here and be a marketing major,” says Dr. Crowley. “The same is true for all of the other business concentrations we offer. We technically have it under this global business degree but regardless of your specific area of interest, you will get a fully-fledged experience in each concentration. And you’ll be taught by faculty who are fully credentialed to teach in each specific area of concentration.”
Walleser chose management as her concentration because she was intrigued by how people work together. “How do you make a strong team? What separates a good company from a bad company? In the end, much of this comes down to leadership. I wanted to learn the skills to excel in my future work on both a strategic and human level,” she adds.
But that’s just part of the benefit of the degree. As Dr. Crowley points out, the program’s global business aspect makes the degree stand apart and gives students a head start on their next step out into the wider world.
“It gives you that additional training with an international perspective,” says Dr. Crowley. “So, when you go out and try to find a job with a global company, or try to get into a grad school, or whatever your next step on the career path may be, you’ve got that extra ‘oomph’ to your degree that’s got a global scale.”
Walleser agrees saying, “Many of the classes in the Sorrell College of Business take the global perspective. We would explore cultural differences, and often get to put them into practice when working with international students. Early in college, I was surprised by my own lack of awareness about how other countries operate, but after getting to work with students from Belgium, Malaysia, China, and more, I was struck by a desire to live outside of my ethnocentric view and create a more collaborative attitude. It’s something I think we all, myself included, can continually grow in,” she says.
TROY’s International Focus
TROY takes a very deliberate approach to emphasizing its role as an international university by leveraging various global partnerships.
“We have strong partnerships with universities in other parts of the world,” says Dr. Crowley. “For example, we have some partner institutions in South East Asia that regularly send students here. They come and spend a couple of years with us and work towards their degrees. We also have partnerships with institutions where we send faculty members to teach courses abroad. Then we have our study abroad programs. Traditionally, it’s been a very strong aspect of our programs where our students can go and spend entire semesters abroad. We also have faculty-led, two-week programs where students engage in overseas experiences. For example, our risk management students go to the U.K. every year.”
During her senior year, Walleser participated in a short study abroad trip to Malaysia. During the trip they got to meet and collaborate with the students who had been virtually attending the Global Management course. Until that point, they had only been able to communicate via technology and they adjusted their schedules to match the class’ time zone. “So, to be in their country, experiencing their perspectives and cultural differences, opened my eyes to how important it is to think with a global mindset and not just in terms of what is most comfortable for me,” Walleser adds.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed travel opportunities, Dr. Crowley looks forward to a time when the world emerges from the pandemic and international travel routes open up again.
Dr. Crowley highlights destinations in the Caribbean, Europe and Vietnam, where students and faculty from TROY have found themselves in recent years while participating in the global business degree program. “Students have opportunities to pretty much go anywhere in the world,” says Dr. Crowley. “You name a place, and I could probably find a student who’s been there.”
Dr. Crowley underscores that even time spent on campus at TROY offers students an international flavor.
“You can be a student who lives here in the city of Troy and has essentially lived here all your life but when you come to TROY, you will get that international experience,” says Dr. Crowley. “A lot of your fellow students will be from overseas, creating opportunities to learn from each other and explore working with different people and cultures. It’s something that we take extremely seriously here at TROY and are very proud of.”
The internet adds another layer to TROY’s global reach, with students located worldwide joining their cohorts on campus. In many ways, just like any international business, TROY is harnessing the power of internet technologies to go global when it comes to education.
How Technology is Facilitating Change when Managing an International Business
According to Dr. Crowley, technology is one of the most significant factors in moving toward a more global environment in business.
“We would be here all day if we tried to list all the ways that technology has helped facilitate global business,” says Dr. Crowley. “However, I think the clearest example would be communication. The ability to reach someone across the planet instantaneously is something that has truly shrunk down the world in a real way.”
Dr. Crowley highlights the retail industry as a prominent example of how technology has shaped the global business world.
“When I go shopping for something on Amazon, eBay or any other of these large scale websites, I’m able to buy something from virtually anywhere on the planet,” says Dr. Crowley. “The ability over the past decade to access goods and services on my phone that I wouldn’t have had access to ten-years prior — well, it’s not an exaggeration to say it has revolutionized the way we do pretty much all business.”
The relative simplicity in how both consumers and businesses can communicate beyond borders has also created opportunities for TROY to deliver on its commitment to international education regardless of where a student is located. In recent months, many of these online best practices have been accelerated and brought to the front of TROY’s delivery strategy, helping to navigate some of the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I certainly would not claim it’s been an easy transition over the past six months but we were able to move relatively quickly here at TROY and transition to a remote learning model where needed,” says Dr. Crowley.
Is There a Typical Student in the Global Business Degree Program?
Dr. Crowley says the Global Business Degree Program at TROY attracts a good mix of both traditional and nontraditional students.
“Here on the Troy Campus in Troy, Alabama, we mainly have traditional college-age students,” says Dr. Crowley. “They come primarily from nearby, either here in Alabama or from our neighboring states. And as I noted previously, we also have international students that come from partner institutions.”
Students who join the program online tend to be less “traditional.”
“These are typically students who are already working and going back, either finishing a degree or perhaps starting a degree that they hadn’t taken on at that traditional college age,” says Dr. Crowley. “We also have many military students who are learning remotely through some of our online offerings while serving in the U.S. military in the U.S. and overseas.”
International Business Jobs
Due to the different concentrations available in the Global Business Degree Program, there is not just one career path following graduation. Students are applying their degrees in various professional environments where having that foundation of global knowledge can make a difference. Dr. Crowley highlights several international business jobs recent graduates of the program have taken up.
“In management, we’ve seen graduates going into roles like physician recruiter and logistics director,” says Dr. Crowley. “In human resource management, there are personnel analysts and HR administrators. From general business we have a project manager. In information systems, there are software and data analysts and a cybersecurity engineer. Then in risk management and insurance, we have an underwriting analyst, a claims associate and a risk manager.”
Dr. Crowley believes there are many reasons why students should consider studying for their global business degree at TROY.
“I can tell you that we have a phenomenal faculty,” says Dr. Crowley. “We recently went through our initial Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) accreditation, and we’re very proud of it. Part of that process required us to take a very close look at our faculty and their credentials and try to make sure we have true experts in their fields in the classroom. We passed that with flying colors.”
Walleser particularly loved the Organizational Management, Management Seminar and Strategic Management courses. She adds, “Anything that blends business with psychology or critical thinking is incredibly interesting, and I’ve been surprised how often I call to mind some of those concepts in my day to day work. These classes also all involved case studies, which I found aided my ability to learn. It’s always nice to be able to apply what you’re learning in the classroom to real-world companies.”
Dr. Crowley suggests that the strength of TROY’s business school faculty comes from its “good mix” of professors and adjuncts who come to the University from a diverse area of academia and industry.
“It’s always been very refreshing because you get a different perspective on things,” says Dr. Crowley. “I’ve got people I rely on here that I know to have an industry background and can talk about best practices in business from first-hand experience. That is obviously vital, especially in the college of business. At the same time, when it comes to needing to foster students and their academic research, we have experts in that area because that has been their entire professional focus. We have a really good mix of people here.”
Walleser adds, “I remember taking a course at TROY that taught me the foundations of Microsoft Access and thinking, ‘When am I ever going to use this — people only use Excel.’ Little did I know that my first manager in my rotational program is an Access guru and uses it daily. He had the expectation that I should become one as well, so when I came in already knowing how to manipulate large sets of data, and could do so quickly, he was very impressed. I got to work on so many more impactful projects because of this skill.”
She also says, “The Sorrell College of Business puts a large emphasis on people skills, teamwork and presentations. I’m constantly manipulating data in my job and then having to make it tell a story for leadership. I don’t think I would be as comfortable taking the reins and presenting to varying audiences if it hadn’t been for those opportunities at TROY.”
When it comes to choosing a college as a place to study and live, Dr. Crowley believes that the Troy Campus experience is second to none. He says the combination of big school amenities and small school personal experience is a combination that’s hard to beat.
“On this campus, we have what I truly believe are the best of both worlds,” says Dr. Crowley. “We’ve got all of the amenities you would expect at a large state school. We have Division I sports with a giant stadium right down the sidewalk from my office. We have world-class amenities as far as dining and, we just opened a new rec center. At the same time, we are small enough that we allow for all of the one-on-one interaction that you get at a smaller, liberal arts-type institution. I went to a small liberal arts college for my undergraduate, and the thing that I loved about it was that all my professors knew my name, I was able to pop into their office, you could spend time talking, and I had very small classes. It’s exactly the same here. We’re not so big that you are just a number.”
Walleser agrees. “The professors at TROY are wonderful. Because of the size of most classes, I was really able to get to know them. I was most particularly struck by how encouraging they were. They believed in us and wanted to see us succeed,” Walleser says. “I always felt like there were opportunities for me to excel and be involved.”
The city of Troy, Alabama, where the Troy Campus is located, is also an attraction for many prospective students.
“It’s a relatively small town but it’s a great town in terms of living and working here,” says Dr. Crowley. The University is clearly a major part of the city here. When the students are here on campus, the city has a very different feel than over the summer months when many of the students are away.”
TROY also offers many significant benefits to its online students, not the least of which is a long tradition of providing excellent education in an online format, including more than 90 programs offered completely online.
“With the online offering, you might not be getting the football stadium right down the sidewalk or the new rec center, but TROY has always been a leader in online education,” says Dr. Crowley. “We know what we are doing, we’ve been doing it a long time, and we have a very robust number of degree programs entirely offered online. I really believe that we are at the cutting edge of online education.”
If you are interested in a career that spans borders or have aspirations to work for an international company, a global business degree can be your most important first step. To learn more or to speak with a faculty member about TROY’s Global Business Degree Program, visit the program page on our website.