VietNamNet Bridge – In the afternoon of the last day of 2010, December 31, Professor Regina Abrami from Harvard Business School was present at VietNamNet’s Vietnam Economic Forum, a roundtable talk where she shared her thoughts about MBA training and gave advices about how Vietnam can exist and develop next to China, fields in which she is very knowledgeable. Her primary area of expertise is comparative political economy. Her current research is focused in three areas: (1) the politics of industrial strategy; (2) the impact of historical institutional differences on political economic development; and (3) doing business in emerging markets, focusing especially on China and Vietnam where she has lived and conducted research for many years.
Professor Regina Abrami
She is now also a member of the Advisory Council of the VietNamNet’s Vietnam Economic Forum.
VietNamNet would like to introduce the first part of the roundtable talk.
Journalist Lan Huong: Thank you for joining us today to talk with VietNamNet’s audience in the last afternoon of the year. As far as I know, you have led a group of Harvard’s MBA students to Vietnam for an internship. I also know that MBA students always want to visit big companies in big countries. Why have you decided to lead your students to Vietnam this time?
Professor Regina Abrami: Thank you for the very interesting question which I would like to consider as an opportunity to introduce our program in detail. Our team includes a group of MBA students who have special interests in the link between the globalization process and the business situation in different countries in the world.
With the questions that concern them, I think that Vietnam would be the perfect destination for them to seek the answers to their questions.
As you may still remember, several years ago, there was a trade dispute between the US and Vietnam, relating to tra fish. This could be seen as a typical example showing the relationship between Vietnamese enterprises and the process of Vietnam more deeply integrating into the world’s economy. This also shows that when joining the global economy, every country will have to face challenges and risks.
Such cases will help students learn from entrepreneurs about the impacts and influences of the economic globalization on their business opportunities, and they also help seek the link between the knowledge they get at school and business practices.
And there is also a personal reason behind the visit to Vietnam: the country is very close to me personally. Therefore, I want my students to come and see with their eyes the country that I think holds a very important role in the world. I hope my students will also love the country as much as I love it.
Journalist Lan Huong: This is not the first time you are bringing your students from Harvard School of Business to Vietnam. What have your students learned from Vietnam? What are the things in Vietnam’s economy and Vietnam’s business environment that they think is most interesting here?
Professor Regina Abrami: Before arriving in Vietnam, many of my students thought that Vietnam is a small and underdeveloped country with a closed society. Therefore, when arriving in the country, they have been impressed when seeing that Vietnam is really open with a dynamic economy and bustling business.
The most interesting observation for me is that some students asked me if they should spend their internship at some Vietnamese companies, if it is easy to find jobs in Vietnam and what to do to live and get adapted with the conditions in Vietnam.
Some students have returned to Vietnam to live and work after they graduated.
My students all say that they have been impressed by the entrepreneurship of Vietnamese people, no matter they are working for state-owned enterprises, private run or Viet Kieu invested businesses. Another thing that has impressed the students is that the most successful Vietnamese entrepreneurs are very young, and many of them are aged between 30-35. These Vietnamese young and successful entrepreneurs have become examples for my students to follow.
Journalist Lan Huong: What significance does the practical experience have for the students in the MBA program?
Professor Regina Abrami: The aim of the MBA program is to produce the people who want to and can succeed in doing business. When I bring my students to Vietnam and create most favorable conditions for them to talk with Vietnamese businessmen and foreign businessmen doing business in Vietnam, I can help them understand the difficulties and challenges in running businesses. This will be a priceless experience.
In the teaching curriculum, we also pay special attention to teach students theories about how to succeed with business. However, theories will only be valuable if they can be applied in reality. When talking to Vietnamese businessmen about arisen problems, students will have the chances to reconsider the theories we have taught them and find out if the theories are useful. If not, I myself want to know why.
Journalist Lan Huong: As far as I know, MBA is a very valuable degree which can serve as the guarantee for its holder to find the jobs with high income. Did you meet many MBA students in Vietnam and do you think they are capable to work in an international environment? And how about Vietnamese students, who graduate from schools in the US, will they be capable to fulfill their works well?
Professor Regina Abrami: You ask if the MBA degree can guarantee that students find jobs with good pay at big companies, and my answer is “no”.
The MBA program is like a competition of drawing up business plan, while the people who have the best plans may get investment capital from companies.
There is a saying in English "Failing to plan is planning to fail".
I did not have many chances to meet Vietnamese MBA students. I sometimes met them when they finished studying and went working at companies. However, as for the people I met, I really have an impression on them.
However, I met many Vietnamese students following MBA programs in the US, especially at Harvard Business School. I myself have two Vietnamese students following the MBA program at Harvard. It is really wonderful to have Vietnamese students, and they are really wonderful too.
Vietnam Economic Forum
Her primary area of expertise is comparative political economy. Her current research is focused in three areas: (1) the politics of industrial strategy; (2) the impact of historical institutional differences on political economic development; and (3) doing business in emerging markets, focusing especially on China and Vietnam where she has lived and conducted research for many years.