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Northeastern, Santander renew global business partnership

As part of the Bachelor of Science in International Business program, Phillip Turner spent a year in Madrid studying at a private university and working on co-op with a digital marketing consultancy. He learned to speak fluent Spanish and made a score of lifelong friends from Europe.

“I enjoyed the adventure,” said Turner, a fifth-year senior who returned to Northeastern from co-op in August. “Everything was a little bit challenging,” he added, noting the difficulty of adapting to the Spanish-speaking work environment.

Turner was among eight students in the BSIB program who gathered in a conference room in the Egan Research Center on Thursday afternoon. The young global citizens discussed their international experiences over light fare and then met with Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and Roman Blanco, the U.S. CEO of the Santander Group, a Madrid-based financial services company.

In the spring of 2010, Northeastern signed a gift agreement with Santander that allowed the university to expand the BSIB program to Brazil. On Thursday, students, faculty, and staff gathered to celebrate the signing of a three-year extension of Santander Universities’ support for the program.

The Northeastern-Santander partnership will give BSIB students the chance to explore their futures in foreign countries. “You never know what you will be doing in life, because what you study might not be what you practice,” Aoun told them. “You don’t know today where you will end up.”

Blanco, for his part, described the partnership as a perfect fit, saying that both institutions comprise “global citizens who strive for innovation.”

“This is a tremendous partnership because we’re both in the business of developing global leadership,” added Hugh Courtney, dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.

Established in 1994, the BSIB program offers students an opportunity to both study and work overseas in the language of their host country, building upon the university’s global leadership in experiential education. By training students to become future global managers, the program develops highly qualified professionals who bring a more competitive edge in world markets to U.S. corporations.

The program—currently operating in 10 countries and ranked No. 8 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report—aims to broaden students’ cross-cultural awareness, increase their knowledge of a foreign language, and bolster their understanding of international business practices.

Nicholas Athanassiou, the academic director of the BSIB program since 2003, chats with Blanca Sainz, a third-year international student from Madrid.

Nicholas Athanassiou, the academic director of the BSIB program since 2003, chats with Blanca Sainz, a third-year international student from Madrid. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

Nicholas Athanassiou, the academic director of the program since 2003, urged prospective students to consider the program’s career-long benefits. “We live in a globalized world and the best way to learn about where you live is to spend time away from where you’re from,” he said following the formal portion of the hourlong event. Even if BSIB students choose to work in America, he said, “Spending time in international business overseas will make you more effective in your U.S. career.”

Blanca Sainz is a third-year international student from Madrid. She completed her first two years of college at the Catholic Institute of Business Administration, Northeastern’s partner school in the BSIB-Spain program, and is a candidate for a degree in international business from both institutions.

Sainz chose the BSIB program for a chance to step out of her comfort zone, saying that the opportunity to study in two counties has been a “life-changing experience that has allowed me to adapt to many new situations and customs.”