Spartans are known for our determination to make a difference, and one way this ethos is brought to life at the Broad College of Business is through our employees. In this Broad College Employee Spotlight Q&A series, get to know the many passionate faculty and staff members across the college.
Erkan Kocas has been employed at the Broad College since May 2016. As the International Business Center’s assistant director for international trade research and the liaison to international trade partners in Michigan, he has made an impact on students’ lives and the business community. His role includes designing and developing international business learning and teaching tools to help expand the knowledge of Broad Spartans and those working on the international expansion of Michigan-based businesses.
Kocas produces and oversees IBC resources such as globalEDGE, an international business portal that has benefited millions of global users annually, and the Michigan Export Growth Program, which supports small to medium-sized Michigan businesses by providing customized international market research. He supervises and mentors a group of 20 to 25 student researchers for these two programs. Through these programs, IBC provides an experiential learning environment for Broad College students to work on projects for participating Michigan businesses and global audiences. Continuing to support Michigan businesses, he oversees ExportMI.org, which provides a directory of export service providers in the state and more.
Notably, Kocas has designed and developed professional and curricular development programs and workshops for community college faculty across the United States, supported by IBC’s renewal as a Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. These programs and workshops provide information on topics such as the methods, resources and textbooks needed to successfully teach international business. By collaborating with experts in the field, Kocas said, IBC has also provided and designed workshops on advocating education abroad programs at the community college level.
Broad News: What inspired you to begin working at Michigan State University?
Kocas: I’m a graduate of the Broad Full-Time MBA program (2012). During my time in the program, I had the opportunity to study with world-class faculty at the college, and I was always impressed with their work with the students, which made me consider MSU as a potential school to work at.
During my MBA years, I was also a graduate assistant at the IBC, where I worked with passionate staff members who dedicated their lives to promoting international business education and providing research and resources for this purpose, which also inspired me to select my current workplace.
Broad News: What do you like most about being an employee at the Broad College?
Kocas: Being a part of a winning team and a highly ranked school where collaboration is encouraged and diversity and inclusion are valued. As someone with 15-plus years of corporate experience, I also appreciate all the resources and opportunities the Broad College offers its employees to engage in outreach activities and work closely with Michigan businesses.
Broad News: What motivates you or renews your commitment to MSU on a regular basis?
Kocas: Working with students! And I can’t emphasize this enough. Continuously working with 20 to 25 student employees, acting as their mentor and supervisor, helping them learn international business and witnessing them grow up and become confident and competent professionals throughout their school life is the most rewarding part of my job that motivates me highly.
Broad News: What are you most looking forward to this academic year?
Kocas: In addition to my IBC-related responsibilities, I also teach international business and management courses. At the beginning of this academic year, I started teaching a new course, IBUS 310: International Business. This course is offered in both fall and spring semesters and has about 600 students each semester. With the large class size comes many challenges, so I’m looking forward to providing an exceptional experience for all our students, and I hope to instill an interest in international business in all of them.
Broad News: What’s been one high point of your time at the Broad College?
Kocas: In 2022, two IBC student teams attended the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum under my mentorship, and one of the teams won first place in the business category. Moreover, to recognize my efforts in mentoring undergraduate researchers, I was honored with MSU’s 2022 Undergraduate Research Supervisor of the Year Award from then-Provost Teresa Woodruff with a ceremony.
Broad News: What is one fun fact about you?
Kocas: I have a rally racing certificate and love the thrill of driving fast on race tracks.
Broad News: What advice would you give someone new at Broad?
Kocas: With many faculty, support staff, centers and departments, the Broad College offers its employees a unique experience and endless opportunities and resources. I advise someone new to the college to engage with as many colleagues as possible and learn about all the centers and departments as extensively as possible to take advantage of all the benefits the Broad College offers.