Widener University professor Yvonne Antonucci has been teaching business since 1983 and now focuses her instruction on the information systems area of the field, integrating technology and business processes. Antonucci took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with us about what it’s like to study business at a graduate level.
GradSchools: Have you seen a lot of changes in the field of business during your years as a professor?
There have been lots of changes in the field. I specialize in the information systems area, so we have seen a tremendous amount of change in terms of information-technology utilization to support business strategies.
GradSchools: What are your expectations of the students?
Grad students need to foster more of their professional life than undergrads. Grad students tend to already know where they want to go, and specialize in that certain area. We help them use technology to move business forward.
GradSchools: What do you expect in terms of skills?
We do tend to expect them to have more professional experience walking in the door. Being older, they seem more professional by nature. We certainly expect them to communicate clearly—not just to their peers, but to business professionals. They are expected to communicate well in both written and oral form.
Collaboration in a teamwork environment is also an important skill—the ability to work as a team member. Students will also hone their project management skills and apply what they learn more instantly in a work environment.
GradSchools: What are the hot research fields/topics?
We are very much into business-process advancement and initiation at all levels, on both the IT side and the non-IT side of business. There are also several international business initiatives.
GradSchools: Speaking of international initiatives, what are the international contexts of your discipline?
One of my classes is now working on a collaborative project with another class in Germany. They are working on an inter-organizational process solution. We also have a group of executive M.B.A. students from Denmark coming in January, and I went there and taught class this summer. Widener has some students and faculty going to China and some Chinese students here.
GradSchools: How much of a resource is the Internet and other technology in your field?
Technology is changing the way we collaborate, making it easier. The instant collaborative abilities are so important. Web 2.0 has given us the ability to change the structure of a company—the employee does not have to be in an office anymore to be part of a team. It really helps us deal with international time differences.
GradSchools: How important is foreign language to the field?
We do so much international collaboration, but we are fortunate in this country that English has become such an international language of business. But it would help to know a foreign language, no question.
GradSchools: What do you see as the future of the discipline?
With all of the new ways to conduct business, because technology allows us to do so, we will be able to manage people like you may never have seen. Leadership capabilities and project management will be very much needed. Businesses are already merging with competitors, and while the nature of business has changed, we need to know how to manage in these times and maintain a kind of competitive advantage.
Technology will continue to play a huge role in connecting business partners and processes. Change management issues, process management and technology integration are going to be big issues in the future. We have to get people to understand and accept technology.
GradSchools: What is the most difficult aspect of the program/field? The most rewarding?
The most difficult aspect is keeping up with change. The most rewarding is being able to see students apply what they are learning right away. It is rewarding to help a company make a big change and bring it to fruition.
GradSchools: What can students do outside the classroom/program to augment learning or prepare them for a career?
Keep an eye on professional websites, as there is an immense amount of material online today. But you must know what information is valid and not valid.
GradSchools: Do you encourage students to become involved with professional organizations?
Yes, there are several professional organizations in every area, depending upon what your interests are. Networking with people with similar problems and experience, and sharing techniques and methodologies is encouraged.
GradSchools: How much does geography figure into the study?
We are finding that the business issues seem to be very similar. The size of companies might change, but they tend to have the same questions and issues. But how they solve them might be different. Culture will play a role in these differences.
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