By Nick Erickson
The George Washington University School of Business (GWSB) was recently awarded a four-year grant renewal totaling roughly $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Education to continue programming with the Center for International Business Education and Research (GW-CIBER).
The center’s mission is to build the United States’ capacity for international understanding and competitiveness abroad by pursuing a comprehensive set of interdisciplinary research, education and outreach initiatives. GW-CIBER serves as a national resource center for international business (IB) and is part of a network of 16 such centers around the country.
“This is a prestigious grant,” said Director of GW-CIBER Anna Helm, who works on a team with Administrative Director Alexis Gaul and Program Manager Nevena Yakova. “With the funding we are able to impact research and educational experiences across the GW campus, while also serving populations in our region and nationally.”
As part of the new grant, which will run through 2026, GW-CIBER will launch a pre-doctoral summer institute for underrepresented minority undergraduate students from across the country to familiarize them with high-quality international business research. Furthermore, a new Action Learning Program (ALP) will provide GW undergraduates from different disciplines with in-depth exposure to hands-on international business content and insights into career options within the field.
GW-CIBER will also continue its work in business language teaching and scholarship, and in particular design a career competitiveness initiative to equip business language students with the necessary skills for an increasingly globalized job market. In its capacity as a national resource center, it is charged with providing professional development opportunities and training for faculty at minority-serving institutions and community colleges, and a variety of such programs will be offered in the new grant, such as a faculty program in Scandinavia to study the intersection of innovation and sustainability.
“We are proud that Dr. Anna Helm and her colleagues' previous work combined with their vision for the next four years has been rewarded with a continuation of the grant,” said GWSB Dean Anuj Mehrotra. “Their work contributes to research, teaching and the student experience. All of these outcomes contribute to the global recognition GW Business receives in international business and in the global career progression of our students.
“I am particularly looking forward to the outcomes of the new initiative within the grant that will empower minority-serving institutions and community colleges with GW-CIBER leading international business education and research as a new national resource center.”
Since the center won its first grant in 2006, GW students, faculty and staff have been able to capitalize on this funding with unique opportunities to expand their horizons, skillsets and points of view.
School of Engineering and Applied Science Associate Professor Saniya LeBlanc, for instance, met Helm through a Sustainable GW event and eventually channeled their commonality into an international business of sustainable energy course they co-taught last spring to 10 engineering and 10 business students.
The course addressed the need for energy projects to have interdisciplinary expertise, how learning from other approaches gives students and faculty broader perspectives and how understanding the intersections between technology, policy and finance is integral to many sectors. In the class, students were placed in teams to conduct consulting projects and develop a U.S. market entry strategy for Swedish energy technology startups.
This grant renewal allows the course to be offered again.
“We were equipping students to do exactly what they will need to do in their professional careers: work on diverse teams to accomplish common goals,” LeBlanc said. “I am thrilled future students will get the opportunity.”
While research and faculty opportunities are essential components of the grant, Helm said it is also intended to design and offer academic and co-curricular opportunities for students to help develop the next generation of global managers, thereby ensuring that companies can remain competitive worldwide when they do business.
“Ultimately, we need future leaders who are well-versed in the theory and practice of IB, culturally competent and linguistically proficient to take on these roles and help U.S. companies internationalize their operations,” Helm said.
GW alumnus Carson Ward, B.S. ’22, is one such young leader who benefited from GW-CIBER opportunities, as he was able to illustrate early in his new job at a marketing agency when he helped lead training on cross-cultural intelligence, where the verbiage sounded familiar to what he heard in his international business classrooms at GW.
Ward also participated in the GW-CIBER IB Bootcamp and as part of that program passed the exam to become a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP) through NASBITE, a national trade education association. He is thankful the university and opportunities such as GW-CIBER provided that foundation.
“The international business department at GW and GW-CIBER were the biggest highlights of my career as a student,” said Ward, a Dallas native who majored in international business and Japanese. “They helped to introduce me to career options and interests that I wouldn't have known about outside of these offered programs and classes.”
"Ultimately, we need future leaders who are well-versed in the theory and practice of IB, culturally competent and linguistically proficient to take on these roles and help U.S. companies internationalize their operations."
Anna Helm, GW-CIBER Director
Fellow GW alumnus Luis Otero-Bravo, B.B.A ’19, M.S.P.M. ’21, agreed that GW-CIBER opportunities and coursework allowed him to hit the ground running. He cites his two-time participation in Loyola Marymount University’s International Business Ethics and Sustainability Case Competition and international business curriculum—including coursework in foreign market analysis, the cultural environment of international business and international marketing—as two particularly meaningful experiences.
His first job after obtaining his master’s in management at GW was at Guidehouse as a consultant within its banking, insurance and capital markets practice. During his interview there, he was able to talk about the work he had done advising alternative investment firms in his Foreign Market Analysis class.
Now working as a senior consultant in Deloitte’s risk and financial advisory, Otero-Bravo feels grateful for GW exposing him to international opportunities in business.
“All of these experiences were key in setting the foundation to where I am currently and where I am headed professionally,” said Otero-Bravo. “Even now at Deloitte, I work on a transnational team with colleagues in Europe, and I do believe that the international business preparation I received at GWSB continues to guide me each and every day.”
Alumna Shawn Jarosz, M.B.A ’02, has paid it forward on the other side by serving on the GW-CIBER Advisory Council. Founder and chief trade strategist of Trade Moves, an international trade consultancy founded in 2006 and based in Silver Spring, Maryland, Jarosz is excited by the possibilities of this grant cycle. She specifically mentioned the outreach to high school students and underrepresented communities as important steps in getting more people from all backgrounds understanding the foundation of international business at an earlier age.
“I’m really excited to see the depth and breadth of their strategy and programming, and then the partnerships they have laid out in terms of who they are working with in both the academic and business communities,” she said. “I’m really energized by it.”
She also has been a resource in developing the international trade arm of GW-CIBER, such as the Bootcamp, and has hired numerous GW graduates to Trade Moves.
Helm believes graduates such as Otero, Ward and Jarosz provide the government confidence in partnering with GW. The grant renewal from the U.S. Department of Education will allow GW-CIBER to continue building on its extensive framework to provide high-quality training in international business and to serve as a resource to students, faculty, and the business community.