By Dan Benckart

The Darden Center for Global Initiatives recently hosted MBA students and faculty from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) for an International Partner Program. The cohort from SUFE – comprised of 30 MBA students and two faculty – attended lectures, participated in workshops, visited organizations and engaged in cultural activities in both Charlottesville and Washington, D.C. from 9-13 July.

Focused on leadership and innovation, the program began in Charlottesville with a combination of class sessions, workshops and local cultural visits. The classroom components of the program focused on current topics in leadership and innovation, with classes such as E-Commerce, Current Issues in U.S. and Chinese Economies, and Leadership and Decision Making, taught by Darden faculty members and lecturers Tim Laseter, Alan Beckenstein, Casey Lichtendahl, Tim Kraft and Randy Salzman. During the week, the group visited UVA’s 3D printing lab, mechatronics lab and innovation lab (iLab) where they learned about operations, innovation and entrepreneurship from the practitioner perspective. MicroAire, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of surgical instruments, hosted a tour of their production facility and a leadership panel including MicroAire president John Lauer. In addition to class sessions and company visits, the program included cultural activities at UVA and around Charlottesville. SUFE program participants had the opportunity to tour UVA grounds, visit Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello and hike in the Shenandoah Valley.

The latter half of the program took place in Washington, D.C. To supplement the academic takeaways from the week’s class sessions and workshops, the SUFE program visited several international organizations based in the nation’s capital. During their visit to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), program participants learned about the history and mission of the IMF and the IMF’s involvement in capacity building in China. The program concluded on Friday with visits to the World Bank Group and PYXERA Global. At the World Bank, the SUFE group heard about the role that private investors and businesses have in funding development projects with the help and expertise of the World Bank. PYXERA Global, a nonprofit organization focused on international development, shared the innovative programs they run that bring the expertise of private companies to small, local organizations around the world.