‘We became the first Russian Business School to get BGA institutional accreditation. Many recommendations given to us in 2019 before the pandemic turned out to be quite relevant in the new conditions, when the number of strategic challenges that we had to face had increased dramatically.’
Yaroslav Pavlov, Rector of IMISP
The International Management Institute of St Petersburg (IMISP) considered the following Business School challenges as the key ones:
Firstly, to focus on how to improve the visibility and communication of the School’s unique selling points, making those visible in the strategy and its communication to differentiate the School in the business education market.
Additionally, IMISP was looking to develop a more active international strategy and put a rigorous approach to reviewing potential international partnerships, and increasing expertise in online teaching, designing courses and compiling programmes in online learning and blended learning modes.
During critical times of the pandemic, the Business School was striving to achieve more positive impact through the institution, students, alumni and faculty on the region’s community, society and economic values, and involving the School’s external stakeholders (alumni and corporate clients) permanently in various activities to strengthen its strategic position.
After the peer review visit, BGA consultants concluded a report and offered several valuable recommendations regarding the challenges.
Addressing the first challenge for IMISP, the solution provided by BGA was to rely less on traditional marketing methods of ‘word-of-mouth’ or referral. Instead, was recommended to concentrate on targeting more personalised promotion and emphasising the Business School’s unique selling points highlight the School’s flexibility, focusing on SMEs, pastoral care, smaller class sizes, and its intimate relationship with students and alumni.
As the Business School has international aspirations, it was recommended not to neglect the latest international academic inputs and developments (particularly on emerging markets) and should strategically decide what would be suitable in the local context; this also concluded to carefully review existing plans and partnerships that needed to take place.
Integration of online learning for the School solutions was advised by analysing best practices of teaching online and developing a set of own courses and programmes fitting for online and blended learning delivery; the School should carefully increase the exposure of students to online formats without compromising the on-campus experience in both the EMBA and the executive education programmes.
The final recommendation, IMISP should create a coherent inventory of qualitative measurable impact of the institution; sustainability does not have to be ‘volunteering activities free of charge’ but should be the result of the institution’s core (and profit-making) activities.
The School should aim to harness the pool of alumni and representatives of corporate clients as guest speakers and advisors in return for building corporate relations, revenue generation, and funding sources. Therefore, it would be essential to consider how the School can formalise an active, structured alumni management system.
IMISP believes that the positive financial results of the School in the previous financial year are, to a significant extent, due to BGA impact on the Business School activities and performance. Some of the recommendations provided by BGA were previously implemented during the pandemic or are still in process.
The School recruited a team of young and dynamic marketing and salespeople who introduced new approaches in commercial activities based on modern technologies and personalised communications with potential clients.
IMISP launched several short executive programmes for online delivery and increased online components in traditional programmes, making them closer to a blended format. In the previous academic year, it also launched Alumni Business Club as a community of active and loyal School graduates, meeting regularly for various activities at IMISP and delivering masterclasses to current students.
In the process, the School is currently developing a system of metrics to measure the institution’s positive impact based on the BGA Continuous Impact Model (CIM), and has reconsidered the list of international partners and is currently designing a few joint programmes with new partners in Asia and Europe.