Universal Knowledge, Global Reach

Headshot of Assim AlaqeelWestern Michigan University is brimming with opportunities to have a global experience. From a variety of study abroad trips to the opportunities for international students who choose to study in the United States, WMU is truly a university with a reach around the globe.

Assim Alaqeel, MBA’14, is continuing to expand that reach through workshops catering to international students looking to increase their business acumen.

As a graduate student, Alaqeel identified a need for resources for international students hoping to expand their business knowledge. A leader in the classroom and president of the WMU Saudi Student Association, he took it upon himself to create the programs he knew he and his fellow international students were craving.

Since launching in fall of 2014 as a part of the Haworth College of Business Global Business Center, the WMU Professional Development Programs have gained traction, providing workshops on topics such as strategic leadership, lean Six Sigma, project management, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, supply chain management and more. The workshops also offer the opportunity for certification in black belt statistical analysis; leadership assessment and decision making; organizational health, safety and security; and strategic simulations for business and industry.

“Our programs are designed to provide students with skills and knowledge that can help them take the next step in their careers,” says Alaqeel. “Through our workshops we not only want to help students gain new knowledge and skills but also confidence so that they can grow in their careers.”

Workshops are currently held in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Arizona, Texas and Pennsylvania. During spring of 2016, the office began offering the courses in Chicago, including full-day conferences, with more than 100 students tackling innovative engineering, management, leadership and business strategy courses.

“The topics we cover are ones that our students aren’t getting at their institutions or in their discipline but are universal and can help them advance in their fields,” says Dr. Bret Wagner, professor of supply chain management and instructor in the programs. “The courses leverage our philosophy of relating theory to practice, providing practical examples of how these theories and ideas are implemented.”

The courses certainly don’t have trouble attracting students interested in expanding their knowledge. Alaqeel says the program’s reach is continuing to grow, with hopes of opening up online access to the programs and progress being made towards holding workshops in Saudi Arabia in the fall of 2016.

“We know that we’re giving our students knowledge that will help them advance in their careers and hope that it brings them back to WMU to continue their education,” says Alaqeel. “We want to make a difference.”