Rasmus Fatum is the Alberta School of Business Department Chair and Foote Professor in International Business. He teaches the introductory class of the UAlberta MBA International Business specialization, BUEC 542. Student ambassador Medha Gupta sat down with Professor Fatum to learn more about the importance of international business concepts and the structure of his BUEC 542 class.
Medha Gupta (MG): What’s your background and what attracted you to the University of Alberta?
Rasmus Fatum (RF): I worked at a commercial bank in Denmark while I did my masters in international economics and then worked at the Danish ministry of economic affairs. After that I did my PhD in California in international economics and then I came here. It was quite a random event but Canada is somewhat a bridge between Europe and US culturally and I had the best feeling about the School of Business, hence I joined here and it’s been 16 years since.
MG: How would you describe the BUEC 542 course, being the first course of the International Business specialization?
RF: This course is designed to give you an overview of lot of things, it’s not a detailed course but we cover a lot of topics such as International Trade, Foreign Direct Investment, Economic Integration, the Foreign Exchange Market and the International Monetary System. I think these topics will spark your interest to know more and to take follow up courses. But if not, this course provides a lot of added value to be at par with the current events and understanding of key aspects of the global market. I firmly believe that the material I cover is something that everybody needs to know no matter what. Even if you are not going to pursue a career in international business, the topics we cover are essential to your understanding and awareness of global economic environment.
MG: How would you define your instruction style?
RF: My teaching approach is to attempt to make complicated matters simple. I rely heavily on cases and current events to make the course material as relevant and up-to-date as possible and mix this in with more general textbook material. I encourage student interaction and discussion, and I pay a good deal of attention to student feedback. A thing I find particularly rewarding is when students tell me they after, or during, taking my course they have developed a newfound interest and awareness of global issues. Or if students tell me they understand how little we know about exchange rates and thus how important exchanges rates are!
MG: Could you tell us about your current research?
RF: I always do research! I am currently working on a project for BIS (Bank for International Settlements) in Hong Kong where the research question is whether foreign currency reserves accumulation has moral hazard effects on the stability of financial sector. The idea being that large currency reserves might be used for private sector bail-outs which, in turn, could cause the private sector to become more tolerant of risk. I am currently working on a project where I am looking at the intraday exchange rate effects of macro news after the global financial crisis, where the idea is these effects might be different because the policy response to news are more constrained after the crisis.
MG: Any advice for incoming students and why they should pursue International Business pecialization?
RF: This course lays down important foundations which every investor or business needs to know about. To put it differently, an investor or a business manager can make a lot of costly mistakes by not having a basic understanding of, for example, currency markets and how unpredictable exchange rates are.
MG: And to end this interview, what is your favorite food?
Interview conducted by Medha Gupta.