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Meet Clarkson

Augustine Lado

One Size Doesn't Fit All

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Quick Facts +

What did you work on during your sabbatical? 
Researching microenterprises in Uganda

What’s your favorite family activity in the Potsdam area? 
Hiking in the Adirondacks, playing badminton with the boys at the Clarkson fitness center, watching movies, social functions with family and friends

Have you tried skiing yet? 
No, but I intend to learn.

What companies do you think exhibit the best global business model?
Microsoft, GE and Unilever.

Augustine Lado was born and raised in Sudan, the largest country in Africa and one that straddles the world’s African and Arab cultures. Educated at the University of Khartoum, Lado came to the United States in 1986 to earn his master’s degree at Arkansas State and PhD in strategic business management the University of Memphis. Lado joined the Clarkson Business School faculty in 2002, quickly becoming a student favorite and strengthening the nationally ranked program in Global Supply Chain Management with his scholarly insight and invaluable first-person global perspective.

Lado’s research expertise lies in global business strategy: how companies can successfully navigate the pitfalls of “going global” through savvy leadership, organizational structure, information technology, and strategic alliances and partnerships.

“But even the best corporate structure and supply-chain software in the world doesn’t mean much if it’s not implemented by the right people, the right staffing,” says Lado. The knowledge, skills and cultural understanding that make up the core competencies of a business are embedded in “human systems.”

Lado believes it’s Clarkson’s job to produce the “right people” to thrive in an increasingly interconnected business environment. That starts with the structure of the Business School itself.

“We don’t have departments or other artificial ‘silos’ that stand in the way of interdisciplinary collaboration,” says Lado. “That interdisciplinary orientation is reflected in the classroom, where students are taught an interdependent, holistic approach to management. I personally believe that’s where the business world is headed, and our students are at the forefront of that knowledge.”

Effective management is more than knowledge, of course. It’s also experience. In Lado’s Global Business Strategy class, students work in groups to develop a business plan and make a winning pitch to would-be investors. The students are challenged to design products, production methods and supply-chain networks that reflect the economic, environmental and social concerns in emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Another group of students might be challenged to build a business plan on the foundation of social entrepreneurship. “How do you launch a business that reflects the values of a traditional U.S. company, but also advances a social good in a world where 4.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day?” Lado says.

Ethics are at the heart of the discussion. “Successful companies must adopt a code of conduct that governs their operations, wherever they are,” says Lado. “And the students must understand how failing to do so has consequences, even to the bottom line.”

To drive that message home, Lado leads a two-week trip to Uganda and Kenya, one of seven remarkable Global Business Programs available to Clarkson undergraduates, including trips to Costa Rica, Italy and Ireland, and a combined trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

“What I want students to see firsthand is the uniqueness of the business environment in those economies,” says Lado, who takes pains to expose students to a broad cross-section of the economy, from big government institutions such as the central bank to the smallest rural co-op. Students are struck by cultural differences and the high levels of poverty, but they are also amazed at how a country such as Uganda, with all of its challenges, can still experience double-digit levels of economic growth.

Going into his ninth year at Clarkson, Lado is proud to witness the real-world success of Clarkson students who passed through his classroom.

“That is definitely one of the greatest rewards of this profession,” says Lado, himself a father of two. “Sometimes it’s not easy to get a sense of what they have learned right after the semester. What matters the most to me is when students contact me three years later — not necessarily for a letter for recommendation — but to say how great they were doing and how they’re applying some of the concepts they learned in the class and in the program. That’s what puts a smile on my face.”