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A Path to Broadening Global Perspectives

By Torrie Ward, Purdue University


For Fadi Turjman, obtaining a graduate degree was never a question of “if”, but rather a question of “when”. After wrapping up his undergraduate studies at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Turjman took a job back in his home country of Guatemala as an operations and sales director at Unisource Group, S.A.

Since 2013, Turjman’s career at Unisource Group has been full of accomplishments, none short of being actively involved in the organization’s expansion into the palm oil industry and leading expansion into the specialty fertilizer market, leading a top Guatemalan fertilizer distribution company to an 80 percent local expansion, and working on a quality control project to reduce the number of claims from a fertilizer distribution segment. While these accolades are ones Turjman can certainly be proud of, he didn’t stop there. A handful of years later, he decided it was time to pursue the advanced degree he always knew he wanted.

Fadi Turjman

Fadi Turjman

Turjman is now just a few months away from earning not one graduate degree, but two. This summer alongside a cohort of 25 agribusiness professionals, he will complete the MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management program—a dual-degree program created in partnership by Purdue and Indiana University. Students of the MS-MBA program earn a Master of Science in agricultural economics from Purdue’s College of Agriculture and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

Designed for working industry professionals, this 27-month program features a majority of online coursework in addition to five in-person residencies, all completed while students work full time. Two residencies take place at Indiana University, two at Purdue, and one international residency in Brazil.

A broadening global perspective
Looking to compliment his work experience with agribusiness knowledge, Turjman found the unique aspect of a Master of Business Administration paired with a specialized focus in agribusiness to be the perfect combination to help him continue achieving his career goals.

“The MS-MBA program has given me an additional edge in my career,” Turjman says. “This has provided me the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally while broadening my global perspective of the industry. Visiting various agribusinesses in Brazil was an enriching experience that allowed me to gain an increased understanding of different industries and practices.”

According to program director Allan Gray, Purdue professor of agricultural economics, one of the program’s main goals is to provide relevant and practical tools and subject matter to students that they can immediately implement in their daily operations. Challenging student perspectives and ensuring that classroom concepts practically translate to the professional world is important to program faculty.

“As instructors, we work hard to evaluate each class in the MS-MBA program to make sure the concepts and content are cutting-edge and applicable to industry,” he says. “We spend time in the in-person residencies discussing the challenges students and their companies are facing in an effort to keep the coursework relevant to business. It’s all about making sure what students learn in the classroom can make an immediate difference for them and for their organization.”

One of the ways program concepts are immediately applicable is through a capstone project that students complete in lieu of a master’s thesis. Projects focus on a problem or decision the student or their company is facing.

Turjman’s capstone project is focused on expanding products into new countries and markets. He feels the project has been highly-impactful and will benefit Unisource Group.

A cohort of national experts
Each MS-MBA cohort kicks off the program with a one-week residency at Indiana University’s Bloomington, IN campus. The class has the opportunity to meet each other and get to know those they will study alongside for the next 27 months.

Students work together on group projects and form a diverse professional network spanning the food and agribusiness sectors. According to Turjman, this new professional network has been an invaluable resource.

“The diversity of personalities, skills and job titles among my classmates has allowed me to gain a breadth of knowledge across industry segments,” Turjman says. “Using each other’s strengths in group work has been an outstanding experience and given me an enriching national network of industry professionals.”

This diversity provides a variety of perspectives and allows students to challenge one another in ways that prevent them from becoming singular in their thinking.

The commitment
Adding coursework to an already busy career and daily obligations may seem daunting, but according to Turjman, the time commitment is manageable with a little bit of self-discipline and determination.

“Faculty work closely with students and push for success,” he says. “As long as students are committed to the program, homework and classes can be managed. The selection of classes, combination of theory and practice, and an agricultural emphasis on business classes made this program the right choice for me.”

After completing his two advanced degrees, Turjman will leave the MS-MBA program with an ability to see the world differently than before and ready to tackle his long-term aspirations.