The Master’s Degree Programme in International Business and Sales Management, IBS, pays particular attention to students’ working life skills.

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT a job offer from a local company right when you are graduating? Ever since its launch, the IBS programme has systematically developed working life connections, and graduates of the programme tend to have no trouble finding employment.

“We also want to make an international and well-educated pool of graduates available to our local companies,” the programme’s director Professor Mika Gabrielsson says.

Companies operating in eastern Finland also greatly benefit from the expertise and international connections of the university’s staff.

“For students, university-business collaboration is a unique opportunity to learn real-life problem-solving skills.”

Marina Kovalchuk, a 2016 graduate of the programme, concurs.

“During our studies, we had great networking events with local companies, and these companies also launched many projects in which students were invited to participate. For me, this was an opportunity to establish links with many Kuopio-based companies, and this has been very helpful for my PhD studies.”

Kovalchuk is currently writing her doctoral dissertation on industrial branding, and her case studies focus on Finnish companies that operate globally.

THE PROGRAMME’S development of working life connections focuses on recruitment and the sharing of expertise in particular, and both of these themes have obtained funding from the European Union.

“Our curriculum includes a great amount of interaction between students and companies. The objective is for our students to get a job offer from a local company by the time they graduate. Moreover, company projects constitute an opportunity to share expertise between students, lecturers and visiting professors,” Gabrielsson explains.

This type of collaboration has received a warm welcome from local companies. Solutions created by students have been implemented in practice, and companies have also been interested in hiring the programme’s graduates to a commendable degree.

“Of course, the Helsinki metropolitan area and multinational companies have something of a head start in the race.”

According to Gabrielsson, it is important for as many graduates as possible to find employment in eastern Finland, as local companies often lack staff who are skilled in international business.

“Our graduates hail from up to 18 different countries and they have completed training in international sales that is unique, even by global standards. It is of crucial importance for companies to seize this intercultural competence in their exports and international sales.”

ACCORDING TO KOVALCHUK, an international learning environment together with close links to local companies open up new horizons and expand students’ conceptions of themselves as professionals of international business.

“Networking events are a great way to meet new people. They also provide insight into how people from different cultural backgrounds communicate with one another, how they present themselves, and how open to collaboration they are.”

For companies, this is a new way to benefit from international business expertise. Kovalchuk says that fear of the unknown and insecurity often prevent companies from seeing the possibilities of globalisation.

“Companies should work on their globalisation skills and, for example, build multicultural teams. Through the university, companies have access to alumni who might be interested in joining these teams.”

Kovalchuk’s choice after graduation was to pursue a research career. The networks created during her studies are now serving her research in a range of ways. She also seeks to actively incorporate best practices in her teaching.

“Networking is the best single thing we can do. It is important for students to have face-to-face meetings with representatives of different companies and organisations, instead of just looking up information about local companies on the internet.”

Text: Sari Eskelinen

Photo: Raija Törrönen

Source: UEF Bulletin 2018, Published on Apr 16, 2018 



The sales area employs a great number of people in the industry because today's business environment is changing rapidly. Firms have noticed that new skills are needed to improve and develop their operations, especially in international markets. In response to the increasing importance of international sales management skills and knowledge, this degree will be increasingly valued by employers worldwide.

This programme has been developed to enable you to compete in the expanding and increasingly competitive global labour market. Upon completion of the programme many employment opportunities will be open to you and as a result, you have at your disposal tools for a career in interesting and challenging tasks in various roles all over the world (e.g. account manager, sales team manager, and sales manager). The programme provides management and leadership skills that are highly valued in all sorts of organisations from private to public sector.