Ha Le, a second-year MBA student at Maryland Smith, writes about the Distinguished Speakers Series in International Business held on March 2, 2020.
On March 2, 2020, the Center for Global Business hosted a conversation with Suzanne Clark, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as part of the center’s Distinguished Speakers Series in International Business and in celebration of Women’s History Month at Maryland Smith. Interim Dean Ritu Agarwal discussed with Clark the chamber’s goals for global trade and new workforce development initiatives, her career path, and the challenges and opportunities for women in international business.
Clark took on the role of president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2019, becoming the organization’s first female president in its 108-year history. The chamber was created by President Taft in 1912 and is the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions to help them grow and create jobs. The organization works on a wide range of topics with top priorities in trade and workplace issues, including immigration, infrastructure, and workforce training.
“Trade is always very high [priority] on our list. We want to reduce tariffs and burdens. The more open markets are around the globe, the better for our small and big businesses, our families, and our communities”, Clark said.
As a seasoned business owner, Clark is passionate about the need to create an environment where companies can innovate, grow, and flourish. Interacting with the business student audience in the room, Clark emphasized the importance of cross-sector work between business and public policy and understanding of organizational behavior. “In business school, you want to think about operations, strategy, finance, and all of the core skills that you will use in your business career. Then you find yourself in a job that all of a sudden, the company is plummeting because of new tariffs or some new government regulations. There are non-market forces that have a bigger impact on your work,” she said. In addition to this advice, Clark encouraged students in the audience to consider internship opportunities at the chamber and to participate in the chamber’s MBA case competition.
The conversation also turned to the topic of diversity and inclusion where Clark discussed the chamber’s approach to hiring to ensure diversity and inclusion is included in hiring decisions. The organization created a partnership with Howard University and other historically black colleges and universities on this issue with the involvement of its business members. “It is an ongoing conversation. The research suggests that economic returns from having a diverse workforce are incredible. As smart business people, we know we ought to ensure diversity and inclusion in the workplace not only because it is the right thing to do but also it makes a solid business sense,” Clark shared with the audience.
Clark closed out the event by highlighting the chamber’s Citizenship Awards, which are recognitions of social and community initiatives of the private sector, and by emphasizing that business is a noble calling that continues to provide opportunities and benefits for society.
Join the Center for Global Business for the Second Annual Forum on global trade and climate change on April 15, 2020.
This event was supported in part by CIBE, a Title VI grant provided by the U.S. Department of Education.