U professor receives achievement award from Swiss business school

Seth Rowe

An international business school awarded University professor Mahmood Zaidi with a lifetime achievement award in October for his work in organizing an unusual system of alliances with foreign business schools.

The Graduate School of Business Administration, located in Zurich, Switzerland, presented the award in the form of a heavy statue to Zaidi during the MBA Congress 2002 in Switzerland.

Zaidi, who has taught business at the University for more than 30 years, organized the first offshore program for the University. Through that program, students at schools in Poland, Austria and China work toward master of business administration degrees from the University.

Most of the students are natives of the countries where they study, but some are expatriates from the United States, said David Kidwell, former Carlson School of Management dean.

Few schools in the United States offer such programs, Kidwell said. He said the University has been a national leader in the development of such programs and that Zaidi was instrumental in making it happen.

“I have been helping students to understand increasingly the experiential component of the students and faculty,” Zaidi said. “I can’t see anyone going (into the business world) without international experience.”

Kidwell, who was the business school dean from 1991-2001, encouraged Zaidi’s efforts, saying that the University needed more international influences.

“Mahmood really started things happening,” Kidwell said. “He single-handedly put together a whole consortium of exchange programs we do business with.”

Zaidi focused his efforts on parts of the world where Minnesota companies, such as Cargill and 3M, had an interest.

Although Zaidi did not receive much funding at first, he helped raise money and convinced the University administration to support the offshore program.

Zaidi has worked to build relationships between the University and schools on five continents for more than two decades. His efforts have helped double the student exchange rate, Zaidi said.

“He has made extraordinary contributions to the organization of our current programs. His main accomplishments were made even though everyone else did not even see an opportunity,” said Avner Ben-Ner, director of the Industrial Relations Center at the Carlson School.

Zaidi is quick to point out that he didn’t do it alone, though.

“Please note that behind my recognition lies the help of many people, past and present Ö who assisted me in building the international activities and program in the Carlson School,” he said. “I am a symbol of the award, but many people helped.”

Besides being the director of international program development at the Carlson School and a professor of human resources and industrial relations, Zaidi has taught at universities in California, Australia, France, Switzerland, Austria and Poland. He has written and edited a number of books and articles on business-related subjects.

He wrote a book published in 2000 on his development of the University Executive master of business administration program in Warsaw, Poland.

“Some are sprinters and some are marathoners. Mahmood is a marathoner,” Kidwell said of Zaidi’s lifetime of academic service:

Seth Rowe welcomes comments at [email protected]