As a student in the Global OneMBA® Program, Marc Ross (’08) received a first-hand, in-depth look at China and its role in the international economy. Five years later, he is helping ensure that the U.S.-China commercial relationship thrives in his role as director of communications and publications for the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC).
With offices in Washington, D.C., Beijing and Shanghai, USBC is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of 220 American companies that do business with China. Its members are large, well-known U.S. companies, smaller companies and service firms. It is governed by a board of directors of distinguished corporate leaders, and chaired by Robert McDonald, CEO of Procter & Gamble Company.
Ross, who joined USCBC in 2010, is charged with raising awareness and public support for policies that improve the two countries’ commercial partnership, making it easier for both Chinese and U.S. companies to do business abroad. In addition to overseeing the council’s government and global media relations, he works with his team develop content and news that has an impact on U.S.-China commercial relations for USCBC’s flagship publication, China Business Review.
“I’ve always been really intrigued by China, and also global business overall,” said Ross. “This topic is obviously front and center every day.”
Before joining USCBC, Ross gained extensive experience in communications, national political campaigns, fundraising programs and business development. His previous work in government relations allowed him to work on a number of diverse public policy issues, including passage of permanent Normal Trade Relations for China in 2000. But even with this impressive work portfolio, Ross knew he needed another degree to advance his career.
He was drawn to OneMBA for its global curriculum, which exposes students to international business perspectives and best business practices, and integrates from developed and emerging economies. The program design engages students from around the world and they build a global network along the way. The international nature of the program combined with its focus on global leadership made OneMBA the perfect fit for Ross.
OneMBA students study with faculty from five leading business schools on four continents. In addition to attending classes at UNC Kenan-Flagler, Ross completed global residencies at partner schools in Europe, Latin America and Asia. An excursion to mainland China during a Hong Kong residency was a particularly powerful experience for Ross, and it contributed significantly to the wealth of country-specific knowledge he needs on the job.
“Seeing the country up close gave me a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of doing business in China,” he said.
In addition to the international exposure brought by a global faculty and global residencies, OneMBA requires students to collaborate with teammates around the world on each class project. Ross learned to work across different time zones and cultures, which affected everything from punctuality to interpretation of the course material. He credits much of the resourcefulness and creativity needed to navigate his current position at USCBC with the lessons learned during those assignments.
“I wanted to be exposed to as many different people as possible,” Ross said. “Having access to not only a robust U.S. network, but also a truly global network was an amazing experience.”
Ross comes back to Chapel Hill often to meet with UNC Kenan-Flagler students, attend Alumni Weekend and, share his expertise. He recently gave a keynote address at conference on China. He also was back in the classroom at George Washington University this spring semester, teaching “Globalization 3.0 and Public Affairs.”
He always has considered himself a connector, and his latest project builds upon that passion for relationships and personal connections. Earlier this year he founded Brigadoon, a three-day professional networking and learning event at the Sundance Resort in Utah. He brought together a diverse group of leaders ranging from doctors to entrepreneurs for a weekend of mountain sports and workshops designed to drive creativity. Somewhere between TED and summer camp, Brigadoon encourages professionals to share experiences and learn from each other, and grow a global network in the process.
“OneMBA allowed me to meet so many interesting people, and I wanted to continue that after school,” said Ross. “I’ve always been a connector. With Brigadoon I wanted to bring interesting and creative people together and just see what ideas came out of it. The ultimate goal is to get you out of your usual circle and leave the place smarter.”
Ross envisions Brigadoon as a multi-decade project that will one day engage and connect creative leaders around the world. Future plans include developing an online presence, expanding the number of events and providing educational grants to promising MBA students.