New BCIT program recognizes that global opportunities bring new leadership demands

New BCIT School of Business + Media Graduate Certificate provides vital cross-cultural skills

Worldwide marketplace: In the BCIT School of Business + Media’s new Global Leadership program, professionals learn how to lead, communicate effectively with, and market to people from a range of backgrounds.

With its new, dynamic global reach, today’s international trade is a tectonic shift forward for business and industry. But along with easier communication come fresh challenges.

Savvy business professionals understand that to lead and succeed in the global marketplace, they will need new, dynamic skills. 

As of September 2021, professionals can acquire these critical lessons through the new Global Leadership program at the BCIT School of Business + Media, a nine-month Graduate Certificate with a focus on problem-solving and change management—all presented through a global lens.

The skills taught in the new Global Leadership program will complement and enhance the business and technical abilities students already have, as Program Head Mark Nakamura explains:

“What differentiates BCIT’s Global Leadership from conventional leadership and management programs is that it includes a cross-cultural analysis and intercultural skills component. More than ever with our increasingly global economy, having the ability to lead, and communicate effectively with, and market to people with a range of backgrounds, is vital.”

It’s time for a reset, says Nakamura. “It is easy to assume that everyone sees the world in the same way, but we have to consider that we have our own lens that is informed by our unique experiences, education, culture, family, and so on.

“The fact that others have different lenses that inform communication and decision-making, can be a major and invisible barrier. Understanding these different cultural lenses is key to managing a diverse team and engaging in a multicultural business environment.”

Anyone with an undergraduate degree is eligible for the Graduate Certificate in Global Leadership. Students can use it as credit toward an MBA, or to immediately implement the skills in their careers at home or abroad, Nakamura notes. And the program may qualify international students for the all-important Post-Graduate Work Permit that allows them to work in Canada and, if they choose, build a future here. Also, for working professionals, the certificate can be completed in the evenings, with a flexible mix of online and in-class attendance.

The toolbox leaders need

Enrolling in the Global Leadership graduate program is a big step, “a life definer,” says BCIT Instructor Dr. Luana Carcano. 

“Everyone can be a leader, but it’s each individual’s decision if they want to be. Our students will be diverse, with different backgrounds but they will all have in common that willingness to become leaders.”

Global Leadership will give students the toolbox to evolve, to gain the soft skills related to people management, and potentially to become the CEO of thousands of employees. 

It will also be challenging. “You will need to better understand people, avoid stereotypes, be self-aware of your cultural biases and open-minded in managing and getting the best out of a global, multicultural team,” says Carcano.

Instructor Dr. Ike Hall explains that, from the outset, faculty will treat students like the leaders they are: “The students aren’t empty vessels for us to pour knowledge into. Anyone can learn from a book, from MOOC (massive open online courses). For our students the real learning is in practice, in realistic industry problems they must solve. They will research the problem, come up with their solution and then—as in Harvard Business School simulations—face instructors and students to communicate it.”

These types of simulations offer students the chance to put what they learn into practice.

“It is intimidating, yes. But it’s the hands-on experience they need,” notes Hall. “Better to make errors here, in a friendly environment, than blundering about later when they’re at a firm.”

Hall might assume, for example, the role of a vice-president or board member and question students: “In the real world everything you present has to be grounded. You can’t just pull your replies out of the air. Our students know they’re smart, but with this approach, they get confidence. That as much as anything is the advantage they take away.”

The program culminates in a capstone project involving real-world employment in industry.

“At BCIT the capstone is very important,” says Nakamura. “It’s the chance for students to use all the skills they’ve learned toward something real. They can apply the skills not only in a business background, but in engineering, health, and all the different areas that require effective leadership.”

For more information about the Graduate Certificate in Global Leadership, visit bcit.ca/globalleadership.