Dr. Charlotte Broaden, Global Business & Leadership Professor: A Q&A
After an international career in the corporate world, Dr. Charlotte Broaden began teaching global business at the university level. She has since developed a passion for bringing students on international trips to expose them to new experiences and cultures. Recently we asked her about her thoughts on teaching, the importance of education and more, as part of SNHU's Faculty Spotlight Series.
Tell us a little bit about your professional background?
After getting my undergraduate degree at Marquette University in interpersonal communication and management, I started working in the corporate world in the area of human resources. I had the opportunity to work for three multinational corporations and in my last job I took an international assignment in Toronto, Canada, with HR responsibilities for a branch location in France. While working in the field of HR, I had responsibilities in college recruiting, employment, training and development, safety and security and, ultimately, in strategic management. It was during my corporate experience that I joined a number of trade and professional organizations that helped me to build a strong professional network that I maintain today.
What led you to academics, and in particular, SNHU?
When my expatriate assignment was ending in Canada, I realized I wanted to continue with an international business career, but I realized I did not have the academic preparation that I felt would help me to be successful. So, I decided to get my master’s in international business. At the time, there were only a handful of programs that specialized in international business and SNHU was one of them. Before finishing my master’s, the university started a doctoral program in international business. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to enter the program. My goal was to go back into the corporate world and resume my professional career. After some soul searching, I decided to get my doctoral degree. I felt that having the degree would give me more professional career options, whether it be teaching, consulting or starting my own business.
What drew you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it?
Working for companies that were successful in the international marketplace made me want to learn more about strategies for international success. Every day I learn something new, and I’m excited to share that enthusiasm for learning with my students. Business around the world is constantly changing. It doesn’t matter whether it is a corporation, a small or medium sized business or an entrepreneurial firm, the challenge of maintaining a competitive advantage excites me.
What do you find rewarding in your position as a professor of international business?
I love getting students out of the classroom. The real classroom is the world. Taking students abroad, or having them work on consulting projects for firms, or having undergraduates publish original research in academic journals makes me want to continue in this field and have students find a successful career for themselves.
Can you think of a particularly impactful or eye-opening moment as a professor?
There have been several, but one that stands out is when I took seven students to Ireland. None of the students had ever travelled internationally, and only a few had really travelled outside of New England. Just experiencing the trip with them was incredible, and I’ve been committed to taking other students abroad.
Ironically, last year one of the students contacted me to let me know that he and two other students who were on the trip with me were taking a three-country trip together and they invited other students who had graduated from SNHU with them. One of the countries they were visiting was Denmark, and it coincided with the fact that I was also taking 18 students to Denmark the same year.
Travelling with students is an amazing opportunity for faculty. It’s our chance to make the classroom come alive and bring together all the concepts that we teach on a day to day basis.
What advice do you have for students interested in studying international business? How can people stand out in this field?
Regardless of the student's major, many companies are going global, so having some background in this field can enhance a student’s marketability. Students should take advantage of faculty led trips, study abroad and internship opportunities.
There is also a professional certification in the field, the Certified Global Business Professional designation. Students who want a better understanding of global trade should consider this option. Our concentration in Global Business is built around the requirements of the certification.
What, if anything, did you not expect from your career path?
I did not imagine that I would travel around the world as much as I have or get to live in four different countries. Both in my professional career and for personal pleasure, I have visited six continents and almost 40 countries. The most exciting and rewarding aspect has been all of the people that I have met along the way. I have kept in touch with many of the people that I have met. I personally love talking to entrepreneurs in different parts of the world to understand their aspirations and challenges.
What do most people not understand about working in international business?
First, there is a tendency to underestimate the cultural aspect of doing business. We can teach how to use business models and tools, but cultural nuances are critical to success. Secondly, developing countries are producing highly competitive and successful companies. To believe that the U.S., Europe or Japan will continue to dominate in business development is a naïve perspective in today’s world.
You were recognized as a Fulbright Scholar in 2015 - what does that accomplishment mean to you?
Any time you are recognized by peers and others on a national and/or international basis it is quite an achievement. The Fulbright Scholar program is highly competitive, and it challenges you to put forth an exceptional application. I thought about the program for two years before actually applying. I knew that if I got accepted it would be an incredible opportunity for me, but I was also going to be representing SNHU. I wanted SNHU leadership to know that I would be representing them in the best possible way.
What did you do during your time as a Fulbright Scholar? How has that time added to your professional and personal experience?
The primary focus was teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses, along with conducting research on investment promotion agencies in Botswana. What I quickly learned was that I could get involved in as much as I wanted during my stay. I volunteered to review and interview doctoral candidates, I supervised undergraduate thesis projects and I got involved in community projects.
One of the highlights was working on a GoFundMe project for a children’s orphanage. My Fulbright status allowed me to meet key decision makers in Botswana government, upcoming entrepreneurs and professionals across many industries. I had the opportunity to present my research at a conference in Kenya and I got to interact with academics all across Africa. I am still in contact with my colleagues from the University of Botswana and most of the people that I met while there. I’ve encouraged some of my students here to study topics that are important to businesses in Africa. I have been back to Botswana since my time as a Fulbright and I will in evidently return again.
While the Fulbright assignment was not my first time in Africa, being there has been a catalyst for taking on projects in support of our Global Education Movement program. But it was not all work. I went on several safaris, visited a number of countries and took part in many cultural activities.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I consider myself an amateur photographer. My grandfather gave me my first camera when I was about 6 or 7 and I have been taking picture ever since. I’ve taken incredible pictures on my international travels. I often go to locations that I have seen in magazines and photograph those locations as well as finding locales off the beaten track to photograph.
What is one (or two) books every international business student should read?
Years ago, I might have had a list of books I would suggest, but today my suggestion is for students to listen to the news. I think students need to read about global issues on a daily basis. Personally, I listen to the news several times during the day. I read about what businesses are doing in different parts of the world. I follow the global stock market and I listen to what issues face governments abroad, particularly as it relates to doing business in their part of the world. When I travel, I always read local newspapers and then follow news at home on digital sites.
Why is education important to society as well as to you personally?
Education is our key to making changes in our global society. It can be a spark for creative ideas, an opportunity to hear viewpoints similar or different than our own, and a chance to grow beyond where we are today. The way in which we are becoming educated is and will continue to change. Years ago, online education would not have been considered a viable option. Neither would providing degree programs in refugee camps. Education is a continuous process throughout our lives. At times it will be formal, other times informal, just as long as we keep learning something new.
Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on Twitter @JoeCo2323.
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