The vast majority of executive education and business leadership programs in the U.S., Europe, and even parts of Asia are conducted solely in English. But for a large portion of global employees—about 40%*—this can be a significant barrier to learning and professional development.
While English may be considered the dominant language of global business**, it is certainly not the only language in which business is conducted. New poles of economic growth are emerging around the world, and a growing number of non-English speaking entrepreneurs and managers are creating new and exciting businesses in developing markets. They want to learn how to manage global teams, scale their existing businesses, expand their product lines, and develop their workforces. If they do not speak English with enough fluency to participate in executive education, everyone misses out—executives in all corners of the world have a lot to gain from and contribute to global management programs.
This past winter, MIT Sloan Executive Education piloted the Global Executive Academy. Held on the business school campus, the two-week multi-lingual program brought together 38 executives from 15 countries to share a learning experience based on four of MIT Sloan’s most popular open-enrollment programs.
The Academy provided faculty-led programs focused on innovation, management, marketing, and organizational performance, all conducted in English and simultaneously translated—“United Nations style”—into Arabic, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Participants listened to translations using wireless headsets. All classroom discussions, presentation materials, and in-class videos were translated into the individual languages.