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Georgetown McDonough MBA: The Intersection of Business and Policy

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An MBA experience that occurs in a vacuum is worthless. The best MBA programs accept candidates from around the world and create their experience using every tool available. In fact, that’s why so many of the top business schools reside in large cities and cultural hotspots such as Paris, Chicago, London, New York and Philadelphia.

But if a realistic and well-rounded experience is your goal—something that revolves around the nexus of business, economics and public policy—one city rises above the rest: Washington, D.C., which is home to Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

“McDonough sits just blocks away from the Capitol, the White House, the World Bank and 177 embassies,” explained James P. Moore, the managing director of the Business, Society and Public Policy Initiative at McDonough. “Given this location, the prominence of Georgetown and the university’s Jesuit heritage, there is no better business school anywhere in the world to address the critical issues that future business leaders will face in addressing the concurrent challenges of business, government and society.”

Washington, D.C., is home to government agencies, international bodies, global business leaders and non-governmental organizations on a scale that is almost impossible to find anywhere else. These organizations also host a significant number of global business and political leaders who take the time to speak to students, whether on campus or in the city. This concentration of power, influence and unique opportunities means that Georgetown McDonough’s MBAs gain a view of business that extends well beyond the classroom.

Whether you work on Wall Street, in marketing or on the Hill, you need to understand how business impacts and is impacted by policy and society. Even if you want to do business overseas, you have to understand how international economies will or won’t support your strategy. It’s not enough to learn accounting, finance, and marketing alone; you have to understand how each applies to the business world.

A Georgetown McDonough student has countless occasions to engage with local leaders and to enter into discussions and debates that could have a nation-wide impact. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that has been carefully designed to teach MBAs how to conduct business in the real world, and it’s all thanks to a few key elements.

Policy and Business Experts
An MBA program can’t claim to be knowledgeable about the business world and the intersection of business and policy if it doesn’t offer the experiences to back it up. That’s not a problem at Georgetown McDonough. Thanks to its location in D.C. as well as its prestigious reputation, the school regularly hosts events that bring in global political and business experts to speak, network and interact with MBAs.

At Georgetown, you can name almost any topic in the business world, and the school will have a relationship with an expert that can bring that topic to life. As an example, distinguished guests have added to the conversation through three separate programs and initiatives:

  • Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI): Founded five years ago, GSEI has hosted leaders and practitioners from across sectors at McDonough. “Through our founding partner Bank of America, our Leadership Series events welcomed Warren Buffet, who spoke on philanthropy, and musician and activist Bono, who spoke to the role of commerce in making a social impact,” shared Natalia Galloway, the sssociate director of GSEI. “Both shared the stage with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who also took the time to speak in a more intimate session with GSEI student leaders.”
  • Financial Markets Quality Conference: The conference, held on October 12th, welcomed a myriad of distinguished guests to talk about a variety of subjects such as market structure, the regulatory policy environment and more. The panel of experts included Michael Piwowar, the commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Deborah Fuhr, managing partner and co-founder of ETFGI; Tom Farley, the president of the New York Stock Exchange; and others.
  • U.S. Department of State: In partnership with the State Department, McDonough has hosted a variety of events focused on the impact of the economy and the role of private investment in climate change. These events have welcomed such individuals as Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation, and John Morton, COO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), as well as government officials like Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and General Wesley Clark.

“Our students also have benefited from leaders in GSEI’s executive in residence program (from companies such as Green Mountain Coffee, Hershey and Tides) and through our senior research fellow, Leslie Crutchfield, a leading authority on social innovation and philanthropy,” said Galloway. “Other executives and leaders brought to the school through our efforts have included Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Feeding America; Liz Sidoti, head of corporate communications for BP; Fortune Editor Alan Murray; Jean Murray, CEO of the Case Foundation and more.”

Business and Impact MBA Curriculum
And when it comes to the classroom, McDonough doesn’t believe that the textbook is the end-all guide to business. In fact, most of the courses offered in the MBA program focus on how business functions in the real world, not just on paper. Some example MBA courses include:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Environmentally Sustainable Operations and Business Models
  • Financing Social Impact
  • Global Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurs
  • Investing for Impact
  • Leadership and Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Ocean Law, Sustainable Development, and Global Security
  • Policy Issues in CSR and Impact Investing
  • Principled Leadership for Business and Society
  • Social Innovation

“As with all classes at McDonough, MBA classes are infused with the school’s mission of graduating principled leaders with a global mindset, in service to business and society,” explained Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs Prashant Malaviya. “Being and working in service to business and society is part of the university’s wider Jesuit ethos, and it informs everyday practice and study at McDonough.”

McDonough’s courses also draw heavily on field practitioners. For example, most recently, the Corporate Social Responsibility course welcomed Katie Loovis who directs CSR efforts at Glaxo Smith Kline, which topped Fortune’s 50 Companies Changing the World list for 2016. In fact, almost every course within Georgetown McDonough’s MBA program takes learning out of a vacuum and provides hands-on experience to demonstrate real-world application.

Certificate in Nonmarket Strategy
In particular, the MBA Certificate of Nonmarket Strategy takes this learning to a new level. Its entire goal is to explore the nexus of business, economics and public policy by connecting the strengths of the Georgetown McDonough faculty, the MBA curriculum and the rich resources of Washington, D.C.

“The certificate delves into how important it is to understand the nonmarket environment when it comes to making business decisions and evaluating the risk associated with making those decisions,” said Nicholas Arnold, a student ambassador for McDonough and a 2017 MBA candidate. “Businesses, no matter how small or large, are all influenced by the market and nonmarket. We learn this through case studies, events with speakers and more. The nonmarket influences everything and McDonough’s understanding of this is what makes the program so special.”

There is no limit to the issues studied within the certificate. Students recently discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and what effects its dissolution or continued existence will have on businesses and different stakeholders throughout the globe. And, being in D.C. has enriched the TPP discussion since it was developed in the city and many of its creators have come to campus to join and lead the conversation.

“I’ve gone to dozens of events where speakers have come to campus to give their perspective and insight,” said Arnold. “And, as part of the certificate program, one of our requirements is to attend events in the city where they’re discussing the impact of business and public policy and how nonmarket issues will affect businesses around the United States. For instance, I’ve gone to events at multiple think tanks from the Center for American Progress to the American Enterprise Institute. That’s one of the benefits of McDonough.”

McDonough Centers and Initiatives
But it’s not just the business leaders, curriculum and certificate that make Georgetown McDonough’s MBA program uniquely qualified to discuss business and policy; it’s also its research. The school believes that real-world research is necessary for true comprehension; that’s why it’s home to three faculty-led centers and initiatives dedicated to increasing the understanding of business and policy for students, faculty, business leaders and policymakers.

  • Business, Society and Public Policy Initiative: The initiative is an academic catalyst that provides both students and leaders with a greater understanding of the challenges facing corporations at the intersection of business, society and public policy. The goal of the initiative is to ensure that students experience the impact that public decision-making can have on business and the extraordinary influence business can have on society.
  • Center for Business and Public Policy: The center’s mission is to engage scholars, industry practitioners and policymakers in order to disseminate knowledge on issues at the nexus of business and public policy. Faculty conduct research across diverse industries and economic sectors and stay abreast of relevant issues. For example, one researcher recently completed a study on the value that free online services—including Google and Facebook—contribute to the U.S. economy.
  • Center for Financial Markets and Policy: The center sponsors original resources, provides commentary and hosts dialogues and conferences involving scholars and key practitioners on key financial market issues. These activities enrich the lives of Georgetown McDonough’s MBA students and demonstrate how policy is intricately intertwined with finance. For example, a recent article written by the center discussed the U.S. elections and forecasting. On December 5, 2016, Vice President Joe Biden and Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve System and Economic Recovery Board, will speak on the importance of sound financial sector regulation.

Being a Georgetown McDonough MBA means that your education isn’t just about business—any program can teach that. It’s about understanding how business and policy interact in an intricate dance. It’s only through this knowledge that students are prepared for a truly global business career.

“In today’s world, it’s essential, if not absolutely critical, that future business leaders know and understand the intersection of business and policy,” explained Moore. “The awareness and ability to work within the dynamic of globalization provides our MBA students with a foundation to navigate the tough realities of business on a daily basis.”

To learn more about how the Georgetown McDonough MBA experience brings together business and policy in real-world scenarios, visit the school website.