Sheela Murthy Inaugurates 2014 Global Education Lecture Series at CCBC

On April 1st, Murthy Law Firm founder and president, Sheela Murthy, welcomed a capacity crowd to the 2014 Sheela Murthy / Donna Riehl Global Education Leadership Lecture Series, held at the Center for the Arts on the Catonsville Campus of the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). Ms. Murthy and her husband, Vasant Nayak, established the lecture series last year with a grant that will fund the program in perpetuity.

It was a bittersweet moment for Murthy, who endowed the Global Education Lecture Series to honor her dear friend and kindred spirit, Donna Riehl, a former dean of CCBC who passed away in 2011, after battling cancer. Murthy and Riehl met while serving on the board of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, and found they shared a passion for public service.

“Donna would have been so honored to have this speakers series named for her,” Murthy said. “We shared a belief in the importance of international education, in opening the hearts and minds of today’s students to the languages, cultures, and business practices of other countries. As the world gets more interconnected, it also gets flatter, and the barriers to entry in foreign markets get lower and lower. Today’s workforce needs to understand this, so they can help their companies to stay competitive. That’s why CCBC has suffused its curriculum with international themes: to make its students ‘globally ready’ – prepared to succeed in today’s global economy.”


After a heartfelt tribute to Riehl’s legacy, Murthy introduced the featured speaker, Alan Wilson, who is Chairman, President, and CEO of the global spice-and-flavorings giant, McCormick & Company. International markets have been critical to McCormick’s success, Wilson said: the company closed 2012 with a record $4 billion in sales, over 40 percent of which came from its overseas operations, with emerging markets accounting for 14 percent of sales. How did they do it? By operating across the globe, in more than 110 countries, often partnering with local brands. In this context, cross-cultural business savvy is indispensible, Wilson said, further underscoring the importance of global education.

The company’s openness to international opportunities stems from its inclusive atmosphere overall, Wilson said – not just openness to other cultures, but openness to the feedback and opinions of employees, at all levels. This keeps good ideas from getting lost, and sends an important message to employees: you are valued. It’s the same message McCormick conveys to its international customers by approaching them with cross-cultural finesse and knowledge of the local markets. The message was clear: global education builds the competencies that help American companies – and employees – to flourish in overseas markets.

The event concluded with a reception, followed by a luncheon for local leaders, alumni, members of the CCBC Foundation board, and other friends of CCBC. Murthy, a past honorary chair of CCBC’s Global Education Committee, said, “I could not be more delighted to have made this investment in global education for the young people in our area. I know this will open many hearts and minds, and help people who want to get ahead in life – and what better way, than by giving them world-class skills to compete in the global economy? Ninety percent of these students will stay in Maryland, so it’s a great investment in Maryland’s future!”

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