INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS PROGRAM CELEBRATES 100TH GRADUATE
In honor of the 100th graduate from the undergraduate international-affairs program at the University of North Georgia, the Department of Political Science and International Affairs hosted an event highlighting the importance of a global education to prepare for the careers of the twenty-first century.
The panel, titled “International Affairs and Globalization: The Education that Opens Doors to the World,” was held on the evening of November 4, 2015, in the Dahlonega campus’s Library Technology Center, Rare Books Collection Room 382. Guest speakers included Darius Gazinschi, honorary consul of Romania for the State of Georgia, and Danielle Fernandes, director of emerging markets at Equifax, one of the three major consumer-credit-reporting agencies in the United States.
Both having years of professional experiences in this country and abroad, the speakers enlivened their speeches with keen observations and vivid examples that fascinated the students. Ms. Fernandes described how, with the home market increasingly tapped out, Equifax started to expand internationally. This was when she felt compelled to figure out what made people of different cultural backgrounds “tick” and how to customize their products accordingly. One of the few key new markets in which she was involved in developing was India, where–unlike in the United States–people do not have a Social Security number to use as life-long identification. Realizing that a cell-phone number is unique to one person, Ms. Fernandes and her team devised the idea of using mobile numbers for credit evaluation.
Born and raised in Romania, Mr. Gazinschi came to Atlanta after the fall of the Iron Curtain to pursue an M.B.A. degree at Emory University. Having limited resources and being a foreigner, he had a lot to get used to and experienced his share of cultural shock and embarrassment. But he persevered and thrived by helping clients navigate cross-cultural differences. He described how he challenged American companies to hold on to their moral compass abroad, such as in Russia where Coca-Cola was asked for protection money. While sharing the good news that the economy was on the rebound, he also exhorted our students to analyze their strengths and weaknesses and train themselves through painstaking study and internships to prepare for a competitive job market.
The question-and-answer session illuminated more aspects of the international-business job market. Asked about the characteristics that prospective employers desire in an employee, Ms. Fernandes emphasized flexibility given that international clients do not live in the same time zone and celebrate U.S. holidays, while Mr. Gazinschi highlighted problem-solving skills and entrepreneurial spirit such as the ability to work without ongoing supervision. When asked about the desirability of a master’s degree to enter this job market, Ms. Fernandes credited her academic training, including a graduate degree, for being able to translate across cultures.
Mr. Gazinschi holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Cluj and an M.B.A. degree from Emory. He was appointed honorary consul for the State of Georgia in August 2008. As honorary consul, Mr. Gazinschi has conducted several cultural and academic programs at universities and other institutions in Georgia. Mr. Gazinschi is the CFO of Huvepharma, Inc., a private pharmaceutical company headquartered in Peachtree City, G.A.
Ms. Fernandes joined the Equifax Corporate Development group and Emerging Markets team in 2012. She is responsible for developing market-entry strategies for new geographies, currently focused in Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining Equifax, she worked in economic development for the City of Atlanta and the Metro Atlanta Chamber. She held a number of roles within government to develop and lead foreign direct-investment strategies to recruit international investment to the Atlanta region. Ms. Fernandes holds a master of arts degree in international relations from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor of science degree in political science and a bachelor of arts degree in music from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C.
The undergraduate international affairs program at UNG was established in 2007.
Pictured (L to R) are Darius Gazinschi, honorary consul of Romania for the State of Georgia, and Dr. Raluca Viman-Miller and Dr. Nathan Price, lecturers in political science.
— Dr. Xianfeng Yang, assistant professor of political science, contributed to this article