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40th IBEAR MBA Class

Mid-career graduates from 15 countries celebrate a year of intense business education and research

July 17, 2018
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The USC Marshall School of Business graduated its 40th class of International Business Education and Research (IBEAR) MBAs on July 12 at Town and Gown on the University Park Campus. Fifty-six graduates accepted their degree from Dean James G. Ellis against a colorful background of flags from each of the 15 countries represented.

“This is a day of great celebration,” Ellis said. “It is so much fun to know how well these IBEARS have done, to know what they will do when they go back out into the workplace, and to know what close friendships they have made with one another.”

He continued: “The IBEAR program—of all of our programs—is the one where our alumni are closest in their friendships and in keeping in touch with one another, which is very special, especially in the context of a global business network.”

Graduates of the 40th IBEAR class join more than 1,800 IBEAR alumni from 60 nations. This one-year, MBA program for mid-career professionals sets the standard for international business  executive training and is at the forefront of global business education.

As IBEAR has grown, it has recruited students from across the globe. The 40th class included students from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, and the United States.

“The IBEAR program—of all of our programs—is the one where our alumni are closest in their friendships and in keeping in touch with one another, which is very special, especially in the context of a global business network.”--James G. Ellis, Dean

Program Director Richard Drobnick introduced commencement speaker Christopher Darnell, CEO of The Human Baton. Darnell joined the 24th IBEAR class in 2001 after 10 years in the energy business. After graduating (with a minor in cinematic arts), he spent a decade at Microsoft, where he helped develop the Cloud and Xbox, and then started a number of entrepreneurial ventures, the latest of which is The Human Baton, a “super-sport” relay race franchise that takes place outside of a race track.

“We are leaders,” Darnell said of his fellow alumni. “That’s a big part of why we were admitted as students.”

Darnell quoted the late Warren Bennis, a pioneer of leadership studies and former University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at USC.  “While I was here, I was fortunate to be able to spend time with Professor Bennis.  And although he passed away a few years ago I remember him saying, ‘Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality.’”

Darnell added: “As USC alumni, you are all better prepared to produce great, if not extraordinary, leadership outcomes.”

Class speaker Roberto Albanes of Mexico, a former chief risk officer for MetLife, spoke about how cultural diversity contributes to success. He described the class as a “dream team” of 15 nationalities and almost 600 years of experience in various industries.

“I have no doubt that the most valuable part of this program was you, my friends,” he said, urging his fellow graduates to keep in touch and achieve great things as a community of the Trojan Network.

Drobnick concluded the program by thanking the families for their support of the students, who average 35 years of age and many of whom have young children —eight graduates welcomed new babies to their families during the IBEAR-40 program.

Finally, he emphasized the importance of legacy and giving back, saying, “As you become successful, think about giving a little back in terms of time, energy and yen, won, dollars….” — getting a last laugh with his final vote of confidence in their international business careers.