Student on university campus in COVID-19

Student on campus. (AdobeStock)

LatAm in Focus: How Business Schools Adapt in Times of Crisis

By Carin Zissis

Even before the pandemic, turbulence in the Americas was driving a new approach to education, say Deans Joanne Li of FIU Business and Ignacio de la Vega of EGADE.

This would usually be the time of year when students in the northern hemisphere are settling back into university for a new school year.

Dr. Joanne Li

Clearly, this time around, things are different.

Despite the pandemic, business schools in the Americas are learning how to innovate. “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” says Dr. Joanne Li, dean of Florida International University College of Business and professor of finance and Ryder Eminent Scholar Chair. She and Dr. Ignacio de la Vega, dean of EGADE Business School and the undergraduate business school at Tecnológico de Monterrey, joined AS/COA Online’s Carin Zissis for a conversation on how their programs quickly evolved—and keep adapting—to face COVID-19.

And opportunities for entrepreneurial approaches abound, whether it’s FIU rotating students for small, in-person education or EGADE’s featuring lecturers who in the past couldn’t take the time to travel to Mexico but can now teach virtually. “We keep testing, we keep inventing, we keep failing, because we believe that in order to succeed you need first to fail, of course,” says de la Vega.

Dr. Ignacio de la Vega

But even before COVID-19 hit, much of the world faced unrest amid citizen demands to address economic and social inequality, proving a need for a new model of “compassionate leadership” and a conscientious approach to business, says de la Vega. “[Latin America] is not facing only one crisis. In this part of the world, we’ve been in continuous crisis and we’re seeing that our societies really need huge changes.”

Both deans argue that, even as many political leaders look inward and the pandemic prevents travel, globalization endures. Li says an international approach to education pushes students to say: “I have to embrace differences. I have to understand diversity is the way to operate my business.”

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Luisa Leme produced this episode. The music in this podcast was performed at Americas Society in New York. Learn more about upcoming concerts at