The researcher and lecturer at the UB Business School Merce Bernardo is the director of the new MSc in International Business. The first edition of this master’s degree will be offered in the 2018-19 academic year. In this interview, she discusses some of the characteristics of this novel programme, which is entirely taught in English over a year. Bernardo is a tenured assistant professor at the Department of Business at the University of Barcelona. Her research interests lie in the areas of quality management and organisational innovations.
Why do you think that there is a need for postgraduate education in International Business?
I would probably say something obvious, but our economy and society are more international every day. This means that business professionals have to be trained in how to deal with this situation. An international business master is the best option for them, as the knowledge transferred is more specialised than in a bachelor degree. However, surprisingly, there are not master’s degrees with these characteristics in the public university system. In this sense, we are filling a need for specialised training.
What were the main aspects which were taken into account when the curriculum of this master’s degree was designed?
The first aspect considered has been the master’s degrees in business offered and the knowledge gained in them. The aim was to improve them by giving them an international orientation. Second, the existence of the international business bachelor degree was important in the design, as a more specialized content should be offered. The future students of the master were also considered. A master with these characteristics, internationally driven, would mainly attract international students and we also considered that for the language requirements.
What is the profile of the future MSc in International Business students?
The profile is mainly international and with a business or international business background. The majority of applications that we have received by now match with these characteristics. This master’s degree will allow grouping together students from all over the world who share a motivation to improve their skills in international business. Could the environment be better?
What skills will this degree give to future graduates? Will they be better positioned to find a job afterwards?
The MSc in International Business will provide students with the knowledge required to manage an international business from all perspectives, including the environment, finance, commercialisation, operations, logistics and strategy. Students will be ready to develop their activities in exporting companies, multinationals, public bodies engaged in the economic and commercial development and NGOs for international cooperation.
The MSc in International Business also includes Erasmus+ exchange opportunities and optional traineeships? Are these a good option for every student?
We are very happy of being able to provide exchangeopportunities with the University of Amsterdam, the Copenhagen Business School and the Goethe University Frankfurt. It could be difficult to understand an international master without Erasmus+ mobility and we worked closely together with the Exchange coordinator of the Faculty, who helped us a lot and made the work easier. These exchanges are always positive but of course, it will depend on each student situation and future plan choosing them.
Regarding the optional traineeships, they are also an important aspect of the master. And in this case we have this possibility thanks to the work done by the Career Services team, who will help students to find the company that best suit their profile.
We think that these opportunities will help students to better develop their professional and international skills and we will continue to work to improve them.
Is the University of Barcelona in particular and Barcelona in general a good place to study International Business?
Absolutely. The UB is ranked as the top university in Spain in the international university rankings. Barcelona is also well-positioned as one of the best places to study.
But there is more. Companies located here are highly internationalised, we attract foreign investment, multinationals decide to locate their sites in Barcelona, it is an international conference city –take for example the Mobile World Congress–, we have a lot of business visitors as well as tourists and a lot of Erasmus students, just to say some of the reasons and opportunities why Barcelona and the UB are a good option to study here.
Since when are you a researcher at the University of Barcelona? Has your research as a UB Business School researcher focused on International Business?
I started my academic career at the UB in 2007, so more than 10 years now. I have been focused on quality management, specifically on the integration of management systems. They are related to internationalisation because these practices are spread around the world based on the internationalisation of the companies.
In addition, my research is clearly internationalised as I collaborate with different universities in Europe and in North and Latin-America. These collaborations are very important for an academic as they open up the framework for research and help you to understand and adapt to new ways to work. International collaborations are always a positive aspect!
What is your experience as a researcher and as a lecturer for other master’s and undergraduate degrees?
I have participated in different undergraduate and master degrees both at the UB and also at the Universitat de Girona. I have also been invited to lecture at other universities during different quality management sessions.
My experience is very positive. Every year of teaching is a new experience as students are different and also you, as a teacher, because you have learnt from previous years and know more on the topic. The best thing of teaching is learning and enjoying the lecture with your students. And if you are able, as I am, to relate your teaching and research, then the tandem is perfect!
How would you describe the experience of launching a new master’s degree? Is it rewarding? What are the main challenges?
The experience of launching this new master is rewarding! It is a new process from which we all need to learn and improve every day. We are happy to say that we have a lot of people interested in the master and we are working hard to offer them the best master possible.
Soon you will start a research stay at the University of Augsburg. What can you tell us about it?
It is related to the internationalisation of my research. I am very happy to be able to work with Professor Marcus Wagner, who is an outstanding researcher on sustainable practices.
I will be there for two months working in a project that he and his team started and I am delighted to start the experience. I am also happy because I obtained a mobility grant from DAAD, which is the German Agency for Research which makes the visit easier.
As I said previously, working with other people and also knowing other countries is always positive and I recommend all researchers and young researchers the most, to do a research stay. It is worthy and adds value to your academic and personal profile.