Stephen Shepherd: A “360-degree student”
Go. Learn. Become Global. The slogan for BYU’s Global Management Center (GMC) is something Stephen Shepherd, a senior at BYU studying finance and Portuguese, takes seriously. From Brazil to the United States and back to Brazil, Shepherd hops to and fro in an effort to gain global experience and stand out from other students.
With help from the GMC, students learn how to better work in a global business environment. Jonathon Wood, managing director of the GMC, considers Shepherd to be a “360-degree student”—one who has gone above and beyond by earning the Global Management Certificate by taking a business language class and studying business in another country.
“I think Stephen has a really good handle on what it means to become global,” Wood says. “He’s really taken advantage of what the GMC offers.”
Shepherd learned Portuguese while serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil. After returning home in June 2013 and taking a business language class, Shepherd soon realized that the language of business was very different from what he had learned on his mission.
“I thought I knew Portuguese until I had to present a business model in Portuguese,” Shepherd says. “Communication is always a big challenge, so if you can do it well—especially in another language—I feel like that commands respect.”
Six months after returning home from his mission, Shepherd once again headed back to Brazil, this time as a full-time student in the International Exchange Program, and spent six months going to school with students from around the world.
While studying in Brazil, Shepherd worked with a German, an Austrian, and a Brazilian. He found the hardest part about working with an international group was being able to communicate and coordinate different expectations and decide on how to complete projects and assignments.
“I realized that people think differently and approach problems differently and it doesn’t make them wrong,” Shepherd says. “Brazil was the best place to be because people challenged my thinking.”
Wood believes optimal educational development occurs once students experience cultures in other countries.
“When students come home from exchange trips, we ask them what impacted them, and they say things like, ‘I have changed my entire view of the world and how it works,’” Wood says. “That’s huge. Someone who wants to go into international business but has never left the country can only go so far.”
Though Shepherd won’t graduate from the Marriott School until April 2017, he has already seen the benefits of his global experience during interviews with potential employers. He credits his success to his global experience and education at BYU.
“Both the Marriott School and the GMC have taught me that the world is bigger than myself, my city, my state, my country, and my religion,” he says.