By Sudeep S
Since the liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991, our country has been witnessing high growth in international trade. All governments in the post-liberalisation era are adopting economic policies which allowed more integration of the Indian economy with the global economy. Our governments have come up with schemes which promoted foreign direct investment in many sectors including manufacturing, insurance, defence, financial services, among others. Our country also had a noteworthy growth in GDP after this period, which prompted many foreign companies to invest in our country. We saw tremendous growth in many sectors like information technology, IT-enabled services, and knowledge process outsourcing in terms of international business generated by them. The IT companies like Infosys, TCS, Wipro, HCL, among others started venturing into foreign markets and started generating huge revenues from business with foreign companies. Even companies from traditional sectors like steel, manufacturing, infrastructure development, food and beverages, and automobile expanded their operations by engaging in both import and export business. All these factors necessitated the need for trained professionals with skills in managing international business operations. Consequently, the demand for managerial skills in international business went up during the last three decades.
Going forward it is expected that India’s share in the world trade is going to see a healthy growth rate and Indian companies would require more skilled professionals in managing their global operations. There will be demand in positions like international marketing, global procurement and supply chain management, international finance, and international human resource management. Therefore, Indian and international companies are expecting an increase in the supply of international business professionals. The Indian education system has responded positively to the demand for qualified international business graduates by introducing courses and programs that imparted the requisite skills.
Let us understand what are the important competencies that an aspiring international business professional should possess. The first skill that should be acquired is the ability to analyze the complexities of the ever-changing international business environment. To be a successful international business manager one should be able to keep abreast with the latest happenings in the economic, political, and legal environment of the leading world countries. Students should be able to analyze the implication of the changes in the economic performance parameters like the inflation rate or change in consumer price index (CPI) in a foreign country and how those changes are affecting their business or sector. The second skill to be mastered to be an international business manager is cross-cultural management. Culture plays an important role in business and as an international manager, one should be ready to tackle the challenges while interacting with customers or employees with a cultural background that is very different from their own. There are many instances of business failures in international business due to the ineffective management of cross-cultural differences.
Finally, the third important skill to be learned is to develop the right strategic decisions for doing international business. While expanding their business to a foreign country, a company has to assimilate the fact that the new business environment could be vastly varied from their home country’s business environment and thus should be prepared to devise a business strategy suited for the foreign country’s business environment. Therefore, a successful international manager should have an in-depth knowledge of the different types of business strategies that could be applied while going global.
A good international business course should ensure that a student who completes the program gets well trained in all the three skills discussed above. An international manager who is in a position to apply the above skills most judiciously will be able to reap the benefits of doing international business to its fullest. Luckily, our education system has produced institutions and international business courses that provide training on these skills and more such skills. Students should conduct proper research and analysis before choosing their destination for studying an international business course.
The author of this article is associate professor, International Business, FORE School of Management.