December 6, 2008

The résumé of Kevin Lavelle (’08) brings to mind the Johnny Cash recording of “I’ve Been Everywhere.” The President’s Scholar took advantage of the University’s education abroad programs in Britain, Spain, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Thus, it seemed only natural that Lavelle would join Oliver Wyman, an international management-consulting firm, to begin his career. Although he expected to work as an analyst in the Dallas office, he didn’t hesitate to accept an offer to relocate to the firm’s office in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s fastest-growing real estate markets. Lavelle, who was a management science major in the Lyle School of Engineering, now works with 120 other employees of 34 different nationalities, mainly from the Middle East, India and Europe.

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Alumnus Kevin Lavelle with an alternative mode of transportation in Dubai.

Although new on the job, Lavelle already considers his relocation to Dubai a career-making move. “I think it is essential in business and life today to be able to think about global opportunities and consequences,” he says. “Many U.S. corporations are looking beyond the borders to emerging markets for growth potential.”

Lavelle’s willingness to travel and work abroad places him squarely in the middle of a generation that pollster John Zogby calls the “First Globals, 18 to
29 year olds who are as likely to say ‘I’m a citizen of Planet Earth’ as those who say ‘I’m a citizen of the United States,’” Zogby recently said in a speech at SMU. “Sixty percent have passports. Twenty-three percent say they expect to live and work in a foreign capital at some point in their lives.”

In that regard, the recent report by SMU’s Task Force on International Education could not be more timely. Appointed in 2006, the Task Force was charged with recommending ways to broaden global perspectives as part of SMU’s educational mission.

One goal is to double the percentage of seniors who graduate with an education abroad experience (from nearly 25 percent to 50 percent). The Task Force also recommends that SMU increase the numbers and locations of education abroad programs. In the past year, SMU added programs in Australia, Asia, India, South Africa, Cairo and Oaxaca, Mexico, for a total of 30 programs in 16 counties smu.edu/studyabroad. An International Center was created to work with education abroad programs as well as international students attending SMU.

SMU Magazine looks at some of the University’s international connections – education abroad, faculty research and alumni who work overseas – to understand how SMU is going global.