The upcoming international Business Association of Latin American Studies (BALAS) conference April 1-4 on South Padre Island, Texas, hosted by The University of Texas-Pan American, will include two forums March 31-April 1 that will address key issues of interest to graduate students in business.
Both the two-day pre-conference Doctoral Consortium and the one-day M.B.A. Forum will be held in the Sheraton Fiesta Hotel.
Scheduled for March 31 and April 1, the Doctoral Consortium will address the concerns of Ph.D. students and graduates - research, teaching and employment.
"This is for doctoral students, but many professors in Latin America who do not have a Ph.D. degree are going to attend as well," said Dr. Arturo Vasquez, consortium chair and associate professor in the College of Business Administration at UT Pan American. "So far we have people who have already registered from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and of course the U.S., so it's quite an international mixture that's coming to the consortium."
Vasquez, who served as the president of BALAS last year, said the consortium has one element, a round table on research, that will be a world-class event. Participants will be Dr. Shelby D. Hunt of Texas Tech University, Dr. Masaaki Kotabe of The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. David Ricks of American Graduate School of International Management-Thunderbird, and Dr. Carlos Michelsen of the Catholic University of Peru.
"Not only are the participants renowned scholars in their respective disciplines, but these four highly regarded scholars are going to be together for the first time. Usually scholars meet with colleagues in their own disciplines. Here they are going to be in a multidisciplinary event and be able to debate important issues of these business disciplines at the very top level.
"One of the presenters, Shelby Hunt of Texas Tech, is at this point doing research that is aiming at replacing the new classical theory of economics, which means that most of the things that students are learning about economics today will be obsolete after he prevails with his new theory. He will present his theory and debate it with known scholars from all the disciplines (at this consortium). Everyone who knows about this is waiting for what's going to be said and what's going to be debated. The issues are very important and the scholars are top scholars. We expect something really big from this."
Presentations and discussions on job search strategies are scheduled for the evening of March 31 beginning at 4 p.m., and the presentations on research, publishing and teaching are scheduled for all day Wednesday, April 1.
Vasquez said the research component of the consortium will include sessions on publications, including a round table in which the editors of four important business journals will discuss the process of submitting research for publication.
Other highlights Wednesday will be sessions on teaching in the 21st century that focus on virtual courses, day-to-day teaching techniques and distance learning.
Students who attend the consortium will be able to attend a job fair from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
The M.B.A. Forum, scheduled for April 1, will give M.B.A. students the chance to interact with executives from top-level employers.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for M.B.A. students to hear about real-world expectations," said Dr. Jane LeMaster, assistant professor in the College of Business Administration at UT Pan American. "There will be some top-notch companies with representatives there that students can talk to on a one-to-one basis. They don't have this opportunity very often, to have a large number of companies together in one location."
Two speakers have been scheduled for the morning sessions - John C. Guerra Jr. of AT&T and Gus Garcia of Kraft Foods Inc., both the highest ranking Hispanics at their respective corporations.
"They'll be talking about what companies are looking for from M.B.A. graduates who apply for management-level positions and how to prepare for a future with a major corporation," LeMaster said.
As vice president and general manager of business local services for the Southwest Region, Guerra is responsible for AT&T's local telephone service offerings to business customers in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. A native of Corpus Christi, he has more than 24 years experience in the telecommunications industry. He returned to Texas in 1996 after serving as AT&T vice president and managing director for the Caribbean and Latin American markets, with responsibilities including new market development and operations in Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Guerra is a member of the UT Pan American Foundation Board of Trustees.
Garcia is director of ethnic external relations for Kraft and is responsible for promoting the positive image and goodwill of the company and its products with ethnic external constituencies. He oversees philanthropic efforts with major organizations, directs ethnic media and public relations strategy and builds alliances with strategic organizations. He currently serves as the chair of the League of United Latin American Citizens Strategic Alliance Board and is the corporate liaison on the Corporate Board of Advisors for the National Council of La Raza.
"In the afternoon, Dr. Linda Matthews, a UT Pan American faculty member, will be talking to students from the human resources management perspective - how to put their best foot forward," LeMaster said. "Then, from 3 to 4 p.m., the students will have interview times with prospective employers."
BALAS is the first national business and economics professional association to focus exclusively on the study of commerce and industry in Latin America and the Caribbean. Membership consists of academicians with primary interest in any business-related topic and managers of business firms and not-for-profit organizations, plus anyone who has an interest in Latin American business or economics topics. The organization is strongly international in character, with more than 600 members from 24 countries.
Conference activities will include peer reviewed paper presentations and special topics forums in English, Spanish and Portuguese, a tour of a modern maquiladora manufacturing plant in Mexico and the first-ever BALAS International Job Exposition, where corporate representatives will interview top graduate and undergraduate students for full- or part-time positions or internships.
In addition to 250 to 300 faculty researchers, 30 to 40 representatives from corporations with a strong presence in Latin America (those earning more than $100 million in annual revenue in Latin America) and top graduate students from all over the United States and Latin America are expected to attend the conference.
Recent conferences have been held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Monterrey, Mexico; Washington, D.C.; and Miami, Fla. Next year's conference will be in New Orleans, La., hosted by Loyola University.
For more information on the Doctoral Consortium, call Vasquez at 956/381-2493; for the M.B.A. Forum, call LeMaster at 381-3317.