Wisconsin State Journal (March 20, 2010) — When Suzanne Dove graduated from West High School in 1987, she vowed never to come back to Madison to live.
The daughter of respected UW–Madison McArdle Laboratory cancer researchers William Dove and Alexandra Shedlovsky Dove, Suzanne went off to see the rest of the world.
For nearly 20 years, she did just that, living in Spain, first as an exchange student and later working at a research institute in Barcelona; traveling extensively to Latin America for the World Bank; and circling the globe, analyzing programs such as the Peace Corps and the U.S. response to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, for the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Then she got married and started a family. “I decided life was easier here in Madison,” Dove said.
So, Dove, 40, is now back home, serving as outreach director for the UW–Madison Center for International Business Education and Research, or CIBER, a job she has held since 2007. With offices on the third floor of Grainger Hall, CIBER works with other organizations to help Wisconsin businesses sell their products in other countries. It is one of 31 CIBERs around the country, created by Congress to promote international understanding and competitiveness.
CIBER’s recent programs range from a seminar in Madison on government agencies that can help companies export their products to a trip to Vietnam this past January to help faculty members learn about doing business in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
What is the primary mission of CIBERs?
We have three constituencies: university faculty, students, and businesses. For faculty, we provide grants to help them bring international business issues to their curriculum. For example, we may provide a grant to help a professor attend a workshop so he or she can then use those ideas to develop projects for students. The UW–Madison is our primary recipient, but we also deal with faculty members throughout the UW system and the Wisconsin technical college campuses.
For students, we may help fund study abroad.
A very large portion of our efforts relates to the business community. Congress created CIBERs through an act passed in 1988 over concern for competition U.S. companies faced from Japanese imports. Today, with the Obama administration’s emphasis on exports, businesses need access to programs that will provide information they can use, at a practical level.
What are some of the programs that CIBER offers?
We organize about 15 business events a year. We also try to partner with other associations doing this type of work to support additional programs throughout the state.
In Madison, events include monthly luncheons focusing on relevant issues, in conjunction with the Madison International Trade Association (MITA) and the UW–Madison Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE). Often, we’ll bring resources from campus; the UW–Madison School of Business has a fabulous faculty.
Do you deal more with the hard or soft elements of international business?
Both — our objective is simply to get this knowledge out.
It can be the nuts and bolts of import and export compliance, things business people have to know to avoid getting into a lot of trouble. Or it can be about business etiquette or learning conversational Chinese for business use.
In 2008, we brought in the top economic advisers for Barack Obama and John McCain before the election; 150 people attended the session and it was streamed live over the Internet by Sonic Foundry of Madison. Last year, 170 people came to a session on the global financial crisis.
One program last June focused on doing business in Mexico and dealing with border violence and its impact on U.S. businesses.
How many employees does CIBER have in Madison and what is its annual budget?
CIBER has two full-time and two half-time employees, plus UW Business School professor Randy Dunham is our faculty adviser. We have an annual budget of $364,000, mainly for business outreach activities, grants, scholarships, and faculty development program costs. Our salaries come primarily from the business school and from WAGE.
Do you have a “big event” that the UW–Madison CIBER is known for?
One of our flagship programs is that every other year, we hold the CIBER MBA International Business Case competition. Teams of business school MBA (master of business administration) students from around the world come here and compete. They are given a difficult business situation and have 24 hours to analyze it, develop a plan of action and present it to a panel of corporate executives who serve as judges.
Our next one, our fourth, will be held April 6-10 at the Fluno Center. Nine teams of four students each will come from as far as Italy, Sweden, and Thailand, as well as universities around the U.S. It’s a great opportunity for students to think on their feet, hone their presentation skills, and do some networking.