Imagine being able to gain two degrees in two different countries, all within the span of a year and a half. Vanessa Larez Paternina never thought this was possible. Originally from Venezuela and raised in Curaçao, she was always eager to seek out experiences that were diverse, international and enriching.
That’s when she heard about the International Master of Business Administration (IMBA). This unique programme gives students the opportunity to complete two master’s degrees in two countries, combining travel, adventure and culture. Students can choose between any of six partner universities in France, Germany, Spain, the UK and US.
Larez Paternina instantly thought it was the perfect programme for her. “Once I knew about this opportunity, it became my first and only option,” she says.
Larez Paternina decided to start in the US at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNC Wilmington). At the state’s coastal university, she was met with lush greenery, gorgeous lakes and a friendly, safe environment to thrive in. On weekends, she could venture out to Wilmington, a lively port city with its own charm. She could even trek out to beaches on the Atlantic Coast — only around seven miles from campus.
UNC Wilmington is home to the Cameron School of Business, an extremely well-respected faculty in the region. This year, it ranked number 57 on Poets and Quants’ Best Undergraduate Business Schools List; achieved a Tier One for CEO Magazine’s North American MBA Programmes; and 49 for CEO Magazine’s Global Executive MBA Programmes. The fact that it is fully accredited by by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business only adds to its appeal.
Larez Paternina, who had strong figures of inspiration growing up — her parents are successful business people — found that the IMBA was well worth it. Outside of the gorgeous campus, UNC Wilmington has esteemed faculty members who provide only the best academic standards. She particularly enjoyed her classes with Dr. Tammy Hunt, who teaches International Human Resources.
“With the case studies being taught in the class, we as students are now able to put our knowledge into real life experiences,” she explains. “Furthermore, our class consisted of 25 students, yet her classes feel like a one-on-one class because she truly cares about her students.”
Ryan McGee feels the same. Originally from Wilmington, he’d spent the last 10 years in Raleigh and has been working professionally for the past eight years. He’d gained a strong business mindset from his grandfather, father, and brother — all small business owners and entrepreneurs to varying degrees. He’d previously studied in Singapore and Germany during his undergraduate years, and was itching to get back into the international sphere.
That’s when the IMBA at UNC Wilmington caught his eye — and he hasn’t regretted it since.
Part of the IMBA programme’s draw is the chance to specialise in a specific field of business. Each partner university offers something different. UNC Wilmington offers one in International Finance and Management, but every student is welcome to join its general classes in the first semester should they wish to spend some time on the US campus.
McGee is travelling to the University of Valencia in Spain to specialise in International Marketing. Still, beginning his IMBA journey at UNC Wilmington was a choice he’s happy he made.
“This programme brings out the top professors the Cameron School of Business has to offer,” he shares. “All the professors are more than available for any questions on the material or just general business. I have a strong passion for sports and Dr. Hill, our Business Analytics professor, felt the same way. This provided a common ground that he used often while discussing specific topics within analytics and giving real-world examples.”
His goal? To get a job at a multinational corporation looking into long-term strategy. “I want to understand the interest of future consumers and how to better position our products or services to align to the every changing needs and interests of consumers,” he explains. “With this programme having an international focus, I would love the opportunity to obtain a role overseas and to continue exploring the world.”
The programme has certainly opened up wider career opportunities for its alumni. Domenic Winfrey, who graduated in 2020, is now pursuing a funded PhD programme at KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France. He gained a letter of recommendation from his educators at UNC Wilmington — which proved integral in landing him the position.
Now, he conducts “research, teach courses to bachelor’s and master’s students, supervise master’s theses, attend conferences, and have other various responsibilities as well.” He uses the knowledge and skills he gained from the programme with every passing day. “The IMBA and thesis-writing process were invaluable experiences,” he says.
Hannah Grenaa Weatherman, who graduated in 2019, is thriving in her career today as well. “After graduation, I immediately began working in supply chain as a Global Forwarding Coordinator,” she says.
“After developing my analytical skills there, I progressed as a Supply Chain Analyst in Washington DC at Lidl US in their HQ. A DC federal consulting firm — Octo Consulting, who has just been acquired by IBM — took notice of my analytical skills and I now work with them.”
Such feats were only made possible by the eye-opening experience afforded to her through the IMBA programme. She completed her second term in Germany — an adventure that pushed her out of her comfort zone.
“Not only does the IMBA achieve that in the classroom where you are confronted with international teaching styles and peers who have completely different communication styles, but also outside the classroom where you are confronted with your respective foreign country,” she says. “It is truly immersive in this way: developing you academically and pushing you to grow as an empathetic global citizen.”
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