International Business Appreciation Month opens with panel discussion featuring journalists Ali Velshi, John Casey

by | Feb 2, 2022

The event, moderated by Dean Joan Phillips, was one of eight planned throughout February with the theme of Embracing Diversity and Opportunities.
Ali Velshi and John Casey speak during International Business Appreciation Month virtual kickoff event

Ali Velshi, host of “Velshi” on MSNBC, and John Casey, president and managing director of CNBC International, participated in a panel discussion moderated by College of Business Administration Dean Joan Phillips to kick off International Business Appreciation Month. (Screenshots)

College of Business Administration Dean Joan Phillips kicked off International Business Appreciation Month at the University of Missouri–St. Louis Tuesday by moderating an online panel discussion with two journalists – Ali Velshi and John Casey – who have covered business and finance all over the globe.

Velshi, now the host of “Velshi” on MSNBC, formerly hosted “Real Money with Ali Velshi” on the Al Jazeera Media Network and was the chief business correspondent at CNN and host of “World Business Today” at CNN International after starting his career in Canada in the late 1990s. He also is a lecturer at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Casey is now the president and managing director of CNBC International and has been covering business behind the camera for more than 27 years. He started as news assistant at European Business News and was with the organization working as a producer when it merged with CNBC in 1998. He helped guide CNBC news coverage in Europe and Asia, living nearly four years in Singapore, on his ascent to his current role, which began in June 2020.

Joan Phillips leads virtual panel discussion during International Business Appreciation Month

College of Business Administration Dean Joan Phillips moderates the International Business Appreciation Month virtual kickoff event.

In a wide-ranging discussion that lasted about an hour and 15 minutes, the two men described the paths that brought them to their current roles, shared insights on working in and covering international business as well as the state of the news industry, and offered advice for students on working in teams, finding mentors and advancing in their careers.

“This is the 13th year where we have brought together students, faculty and staff from across the globe to discuss the path to success for international business careers,” Phillips said as she welcomed the audience to the virtual event, held via Zoom and also streamed on Facebook Live.

Both Velshi and Casey were naturally drawn to international business and global affairs.

Velshi was born in Kenya to a father from India and a mother from South Africa. He spent most of his childhood in Toronto and attended Queen’s University, graduating in 1994. Casey, meanwhile, was born in South London to a father from England and Ireland and a mother from Trinidad and Antigua. He spent part of his childhood living in Hong Kong in the 1980s before moving back to the United Kingdom when he was 15, and he’s now married to a native of New Zealand.

“I had my horizons exploded and expanded at a very young age,” Casey said. “I continue to do that through the luckiness of my international exposure, and I’m very grateful for that. My parents had a very deliberate and intentional view, which is we are citizens of the world.”

Velshi said Americans benefit from trying to broaden their own worldview, as he’s seen with his own students.

“Other than the hard skills that you need in a business school that the employers are always talking to us about – the coding, the engineering, the finance, the accounting skills, things like that – other than those, the No. 1 nonhard skill that every employer is looking for is international experience or the ability to understand other cultures or languages,” Velshi said.

But he and Casey both agreed that Americans still benefit from their national background when going to work internationally.

“What all of the students on this meeting have is a high level of relevance and currency because they happen to be from the place that is the most known, the most understood, the most transparent, the most talked about place in the world,” Casey said. “With the currency that underpins all the world’s assets, in the language that, along with Mandarin, is the dominant language of the world and with the soft power of Hollywood that is appreciated and consumed around the world. It gives you an instant relevance in any conversation, which makes you able to not lose your audience, and from there, use whatever inherent strength or specialty or super power you have to add value.”

Velshi and Casey are in many ways observers of the business world, but they’re also well-versed in what makes organizations successful, and they shared their perspective.

“You have to be aligned to your mission,” Velshi said. “Your team has to be aligned to your mission. Teams fail, whether it’s in the journalism world or the business world, when the members of the team are not clear on what the mission actually is.

“The mission can’t be putting on a TV show. It’s got to be substantially clearer than that. It can be high-minded and noble. It can be to get more viewers than anybody else in this particular demographic. But it has to actually be a mission.”

Phillips concluded the discussion by reading questions submitted by students in the audience, including one about mentorship.

“Definitely have multiple mentors if you have the opportunity,” Casey said. “Go quality over quantity, having said that, because there’s no point being trapped in a conversation with someone that’s not adding a lot of value, where you’re going to feel awkward about ending the relationship. So focus on getting the right ones. But in terms of plurality, no one has all of the answers, there is no silver bullet, and you will learn different things from different people and they’ll be relevant in different circumstances.”

The event with Velshi and Casey was the first of eight planned during the 2022 International Business Appreciation Month, with an overarching theme of Embracing Diversity and Opportunities.

The schedule of remaining events can be found below:

Feb. 8 – Global Entrepreneurship Panel, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Zoom)
Feb. 11 – Ambassador Kevin O’Malley, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Hybrid event on Zoom and in 001 Anheuser-Busch Hall)
Feb. 15 – UMSL Global: Global Internship & Study Abroad, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Zoom)
Feb. 18 – Executive Panel: How to Reinforce Supply Chain & Conduct Sustainability, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 – Role of Cybersecurity in International Business, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Zoom)
Feb. 25 – She Rocks!! Women in International Business, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Hybrid event on Zoom and in 103 Anheuser-Busch Hall)

Register for International Business Appreciation Month events here. View Tuesday’s panel discussion with Velshi and Casey here.

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik