By Danielle Beurteaux
The transformation and fusion of international economies poses a challenge for the next generation of business students, says Owl Creek Asset Management’s Jeffrey Altman. They will need to be well-rounded not just in business and finance but culturally as well.
|Jeffrey Altman: Being part of a culture is very different from just learning a language|
“The world’s becoming more global, and more and more of the issues affecting businesses and the world of finance are moving away from the United States,” says Altman. “If you look five to 10 years from now, the most important questions relative to our students are, what should they be focused on and how should they be best prepared?”
Altman has an answer. The 44-year-old founder and managing partner of $6.7 billion Owl Creek is a Tulane University alum—he graduated in 1988 with a bachelor of science degree in management—and the instigator of the Jeffrey A. Altman International Business Studies Program. The new dual-degree undergraduate program at New Orleans’ Tulane will welcome its first class of 15 to 20 students in the fall of 2012.
Three years ago, Altman brainstormed ideas with a colleague, and together they came up with the idea for the program, which he then broached with Tulane president Scott Cowen. Altman was involved in planning the program, and he gave $8.3 million in funding through the Altman Foundation. The program will be housed in the university’s School of Liberal Arts and the A.B. Freeman School of Business. The requirements include business and finance, language, culture and a year of study abroad. Unfortunately, says Altman, studying in another country wasn’t an option when he was in the undergraduate business program at Tulane, and he also regrets that he doesn’t speak another language—motivating him to provide those opportunities for the program’s students.
“Understanding a language, and living and breathing and being part of a culture, is very different from just learning a language,” he says.
In the same vein, Altman, who occasionally lectures at Tulane’s business school, wanted course requirements in finance and accounting so students would have a solid foundation in both. Altman, who grew up on Long Island, says he chose Tulane as an undergraduate because he wanted to go to school in the South.
He travels to New Orleans frequently—he’s been to the city’s jazz festival every year save one since he graduated. He also serves on the school’s President’s Council, an advisory group. “Like many people who went to school at Tulane, I became attached to the city’s culture and heritage,” Altman says.
Cowen says they wanted to create something unique for Tulane’s students. He and Altman agreed on how the program should look from the start, he says, and Altman’s global view was invaluable.
“Jeff brought both the intellect and the knowledge of working in global markets and the resources to get this done,” Cowen says. “That’s the perfect alignment.”
Altman says this program will be invaluable for any student who wants to be involved in the business world in the next 30 years, and the program’s graduates will be in demand. “I believe there will be a growing need for better, more globally educated students, who will need to be well versed in many other cultures, languages and different business environments if they want to succeed.”