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Terry Kramer shares his knowledge and enthusiasm with UCLA studentsTerry and Suzan Kramer. (Photo: Peggy McInerny/ UCLA.)

Terry Kramer shares his knowledge and enthusiasm with UCLA students

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In what has become an annual event, Terry and Suzan Kramer met in late May with the recipients of the scholarship that they have created at the UCLA International Institute.

by Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

UCLA International Institute, June 3, 2014 — The Terry and Suzan Kramer Global Leadership Scholars Program supports highly motivated students who aspire to become leaders in international business or nonprofit work. Specifically, it awards $2,000 apiece to up to 10 exceptional students each year for the purpose of studying abroad for the first time, via a UCLA Travel Study or a University of California Education Abroad program.

Launched in 2011, the scholarship program has now made three rounds of awards. The annual reception, held this year at the UCLA Faculty Center on May 22, allows the Kramers to meet with students who have completed their study abroad programs in the past year, as well as those who depart for such programs in the summer and fall of the coming year.

Meeting Kramer Scholars in person

“I think the most exciting part [of the scholarship program] is coming to these events,” remarked Terry. “The students have come back and you see that light turn on, where you say, I have learned about a different place, I've learned about how things operate in different ways, I've learned a little bit about myself and what I like and what I don't like,” he comments. “It starts that process for global leadership -- whatever the field is, it's somebody who is aware of the world.”

“[T]he experience of going abroad starts something in everybody for the future,” adds Suzan. “Especially in our world today — it's such a global society that we live in —it's so important to have that experience. And it's wonderful meeting the kids.”

Left to right; front row: Wayne Wong, Jas Kirt, Interim Vice Provost Cindy Fan, Bridget Webb, Erika Hirugami, Logan Linnane. Back row: Mikala Caton, Thomas Norris, Victor Ou, Terry Kramer, Suzan Kramer, Associate Vice Provost and Director Chris Erickson, and Alexander Tran. (Photo: Oliver Chien/ UCLA.)  

Speaking with incoming and outcoming scholarship students, both Kramers emphasized that understanding context was crucial in international leadership. Without experience on the ground in another country, it’s difficult to appreciate the context and point of view of people in other countries. Terry told a number of stories on himself in this regard, saying it took him about six months of working in the United Kingdom to understand the culture of the workplace there.

The Kramers congratulated the students on their scholarships, with Terry emphasizing that they were already well ahead of where he was at their age. Although he did a B.A. in economics at UCLA and an MBA at Harvard, he didn’t travel internationally until he had been working for several years. He urged the students to open themselves up to being abroad and new experiences, even when those experiences were outside of their comfort zones.

Among the scholarship students who completed their international study programs, Wayne Wong (UCLA 2013, microbiology) attended a travel study program in France, Logan Linnane (UCLA 2014, political science and environmental science) spent a semester at a university in Thailand while doing an internship with a Thai nonprofit organization. Erika Hirugami (UCLA 2014, art history) studied in Mexico, where she found an amazingly diverse and international campus at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico in Mexico City.

After a spending a year doing research, Wayne is joining the Peace Corps this summer and going to Uganda — a decision he traces to his experience in the UCLA travel study program. Logan has received funding from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies to complete a research project on Burmese refugees in camps in Thailand this summer.

And Erika has both found her dream job at the Museum of Latin America Art in Long Beach, which she starts the day after graduation, and been accepted into the Anderson School of Management. Through the latter she will go through a training program at Sotheby’s, the premier art auction house in the world.

Scholarship students who depart this summer are Thomas Norris (UCLA 2014, political science), who will study in Korea, and Victor Ou (UCLA 2014, chemical engineering), who will study in Taiwan.

This fall, four UCLA students will travel to diverse countries to study for a semester: Mikala Caton (UCLA 2015, physiological science), in Ghana; Jas Kirt (UCLA 2015, political science), in Turkey; Alexander Tran (UCLA 2015, pre-business economics), in Hong Kong; and Bridget Webb (UCLA 2015), in Scotland. Bridget has already secured an internship in the Scottish Parliament and will be in the country for its much-anticipated vote on whether or not to secede from the Commonwealth.

Sharing industry and international experience through teaching

Terry Kramer worked for almost two decades as an executive at Vodafone Group PLC/ AirTouch Communications, a telecommunications firm based in the United Kingdom that operates in some 21 countries. After a fascinating turn with the U.S. Department of State as head of the U.S. Delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (held in December 2012), Terry has recently taken a break from industry, although he continues to sit on numerous boards.

This past spring quarter at UCLA, he has been teaching two courses on the mobile industry at the Anderson School of Management. “It's been so much fun, he remarks, “better — it's beat my expectations. The students at the Anderson School are very interested in technology, in mobile [technology] and the role it plays broadly.”

He particularly enjoys how engaged students are in his classes, asking questions that show they are thinking about the issues raised by the spread of mobile technology and, via smart phones, it’s confluence with the Internet. It’s the latter stage, he points out, where companies can create services of great value to consumers, including applications developed by social entrepreneurs that promote the common good while making money.

Terry says that he would like to continue teaching, although he would happily return to public service if the right opportunity presented itself.

He found his work for the State Department very enjoyable, not only for the challenge of bringing together diverse people to pursue common goals, but also for learning to speak in non-technical terms that everyone could relate to.

For instance, he noted, it was imperative not to speak of the success of mobile technology solely in terms of the U.S. experience, but in terms of the global market. Accordingly, he used examples from Kenya, India and South Africa — three countries that have succeeded in greatly expanding Internet access among their populations.

Perhaps the most interesting part of his public service was the opportunity to think about much larger groups of constituents for mobile technology: consumers, citizens and society. “Those are very big macro constituencies. In industry, you wouldn’t normally think in those terms,” says Terry, “it gives you new things to think about.”

His time working abroad for Vodaphone and his experience at the State Department both inform Terry’s teaching. Growth in the mobile communications industry, he explained, comes down to global context, about how growth looks different from place to place.

“The most important thing for leaders is, what are the issues you are confronted with?” he asked. “How do you make decisions on where the promising areas of growth are? How do you think of them in India versus Kenya versus the U.S. versus Japan?”

“I’m loving teaching,” he commented. “Industry is great. . . but in teaching, you have to think not just about the war stories that you’ve gone through, but what’s relevant to students — what’s transferrable.”

Terry Kramer will be the speaker at the UCLA International Institute commencement ceremony at Royce Hall on Saturday, June 14, at 6:30 pm. Consider this article a preview of the remarks he will share with the 2014 graduates of the Institute’s Interdepartmental Degree Programs.