Diving in: action learning with impact

Business Impact: Diving in: action learning with impact

Diving in: action learning with impact

Business Impact: Diving in: action learning with impact
Business Impact: Diving in: action learning with impact

Seeing and experiencing social impact first-hand, for example by watching disadvantaged children play on equipment you built for them five minutes earlier, is by far the biggest motivator for social change. Seeing is believing, but we know that doing something with your own hands for a common goal also has a profound effect on a person’s resolution to do good.

The multitude of challenges facing humanity and the natural world, such as climate change and geopolitical tensions, has undoubtedly affected the psyches of the younger generation and we have seen a shift in consciousness among those embarking on the first stage of their journey to becoming global business leaders. They care about the world around them and they want to be part of an educational establishment – and, ultimately, part of a business – that cares too.

Business schools at the vanguard of sustainable impact

“The existence of businesses helps the world go round,” remarks Stephanie Villemagne, chief operating officer for international development at Essca School of Management. “Businesses drive economic growth for the planet, so the question is: ‘How can we make sure that making money and business development are both sustainable and impactful?’ The answer starts with who is running these companies, so education and business schools are at the vanguard because we are working with the very people who will be running these companies in the future.”

The corporate sector used to be synonymous with financial return and business schools fed into that world. Social responsibility has now come to the fore and, in a competitive market for talent, business leaders can no longer ignore those outside their immediate orbit. Perhaps it has something to do with the fallout of 2008’s financial crash and the realisation that those in power must shoulder responsibility. What is certain is that more questions are circulating about who big business serves and interest in holding decision-makers to account is rising.

“Having a positive social impact is a vital element in projects and ventures for me and my peers,” says Sam Ferdinand, a business and international relations student at IE Business School. “Many of us agree that the best way to have a positive impact on society is by doing well ourselves and then channelling our resources for a social purpose.

“Business schools train many of tomorrow’s business leaders and must include education in sustainability and social impact as a mandatory part of their curricula if we wish to have a society with more socially responsible operations in the future. Their role is key.”

Deans at the world’s top business schools are listening to students such as Ferdinand and have acknowledged that their incoming cohorts want to combine ‘doing well’ and ‘doing good’. In addition, employers want to align themselves with institutions that are bringing about positive change beyond their campuses and, in recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of ranking systems with a focus on social impact. Simply put, the onus is on business schools to show that they are doing their bit for the planet, both in terms of social justice and sustainable development.

Incorporating community projects that deliver

As part of efforts to do good beyond their campuses, a number of leading European business schools, including Essca, IE Business School and Insead, have adopted learning and development assignments from Splash Projects. These bring students together to build facilities out of timber for charitable initiatives that would otherwise not be able to afford the infrastructure. As teams, they are able to contribute to bringing about lasting positive social change in their schools’ local communities and experience what it feels like to make someone else’s life better.

Some schools include these projects at the start of their programme to help inspire and motivate students beginning their learning journeys. It also gives new students the chance to bond over meaningful experiences. Other schools opt, instead, to place these projects at the culmination of their students’ learning journeys, giving graduates-in-waiting the opportunity to say “thank you” to their host countries.

While each business school may have specific learning objectives for community projects, the overriding reason to include them is to give students the chance to experience positive social impact. Current demand for such projects is unprecedented. Last September was Splash Projects’ busiest month to date, with 10 projects for eight charities, involving 1,650 participants in London, France and Spain.

The project with Essca alone involved 1,200 students across six campuses and impacted six charities. At the other end of the scale for size, the company’s work with Insead’s executive education programmes, which dates back more than 16 years, often involves no more than 20 participants who have a day, or less, to build something that will have a huge impact for years to come. Loïc Sadoulet, affiliate professor of economics at Insead, requests that projects incorporate a complex problem deliberately designed to thwart their delivery approach and help produce impactful learning outcomes for the teams.

“We have an obligation to give the future leaders of the world the chance to understand the responsibility they have in helping society be a better place and to set that social barometer,” notes Patti Brown-Varnier, executive director for academic affairs and programme delivery for MBA and executive MBA programmes at HEC Paris. “Business schools used to be about profit margins, finance, accounting and marketing – all of which can be learnt online,” Brown-Varnier explains, “but we’re seeing a shift towards what really matters – social responsibility and sustainable development.”

A recent project with HEC Paris in April involved 156 MBA students leaving their mark on the community they’d called home for 16 months in the form of a play area featuring a three-part shipwreck, seating areas and a chicken ‘hotel’. By building this at the Diapason Juvenile Behavioural Facility in central France, the cohort not only got to experience effective leadership and the power of teamwork, but also had the opportunity to give back to others less fortunate.

“The projects prompt the students to ask themselves the question ‘How can I do more?’” continues Brown‑Varnier. “There aren’t many of them not crying their eyes out at the end of a project because they’ve seen the impact they’ve had directly. They see what is needed to help others and want to be part of the solution. In the classroom, they’re not making an impact on anyone. The projects allow them to use what they’ve learnt and then leave a meaningful impact on others, so it completes the circle.”

Business Impact: Simon Poole

Simon Poole is the managing director of Splash Projects, a company that has delivered learning programmes to more than 55,000 participants across the world since 2005

How storytelling can revitalise business schools and business

Business Impact: How storytelling can revitalise business schools and business

How storytelling can revitalise business schools and business

Business Impact: How storytelling can revitalise business schools and business
Business Impact: How storytelling can revitalise business schools and business

Business schools are in trouble and it’s not just because of artificial intelligence (AI). The challenges of our times cut to the heart of business education and of business and capitalism itself. This became clear to me as a guest lecturer at several reputable business schools when my storytelling sessions got similar responses from executive MBA students – and their faculties.

Responses from students usually go: “We need more of this! Why didn’t we have storytelling at the start rather than the end of the semester? We could have used it in all our assignments.” Meanwhile, independent responses from faculty members tend to be: “This was great. Too bad we don’t have any room in the curriculum to learn and practice more.”

Some argue that storytelling skills – like entrepreneurship – must be earned rather than learned. Fair enough. While a strong theoretical foundation can help accelerate learning, ultimately you master these skills in practice. However, the typical response from business schools goes much deeper. It shows they may not have grasped the true need for storytelling. Neither in business, which they teach, nor in their business.

The need for purpose

The effectiveness of traditional business education is under scrutiny and for good reason. When a company replaces a CEO who has no business degree with one who does, they may be in for a disappointment. In research from MIT, there was no evidence that a business graduate at the helm increased sales, productivity or investment.

Reducing pay for the workforce can boost profitability and share price in the short term. Whether corporate performance improves in the long term is another matter. As an investor, I was shocked to learn that over the last century, all net US stock exchange wealth was generated by just four per cent of listed companies.

Regardless of one’s stance on stakeholder capitalism, the rising interest in, and need for, business ‘purpose’ is an undeniable reality. Ironically, the relentless pursuit of profit maximisation failed to generate wealth for the vast majority. That’s before we factor in the relational, health and environmental costs. Could pursuing holistic value creation instead improve financial value creation, too? This is what Mars Inc. and Oxford University’s Saïd Business School have discovered over the course of 15 years of research on the ‘Economics of Mutuality’.

Ultimately, at the individual and organisational level, long-term, performance-boosting management is purpose-driven. However, driving purpose-based performance requires a different mindset and skillset to those classically taught at business schools. It requires what I call ‘narrative intelligence’, the ability to influence an ecosystem by recognising and reiterating, reframing or replacing stories.

So, while a few pioneering business schools do now teach storytelling, are they equipping students with narrative competence equal to this mission-critical task? In my experience, it isn’t even on the radar. This is curious, given that storytelling is central to delivering their own business value.

After all, what makes a ‘great’ teacher great? One distinguishing mark of an excellent teacher is the ability to hold the attention of students. That is not only due to mastery of the content which needs to be communicated, but also the skill with which the content is communicated. Every student knows from experience that even business cases can be taught less than brilliantly – usually because the teacher hasn’t integrated storytelling techniques in the way they lead the discussion of the business case.

Do excellent teachers integrate storytelling techniques because they were lucky enough to formally or systematically learn such techniques? This is unlikely, because there was practically no awareness of the importance of storytelling in business education until recently. In other words, the current generation of excellent teachers are good storytellers because of talent and instinct or simply because they observed excellent storytellers in action. It was caught rather than taught.

Narratives that matter

Today, as more and more business schools are becoming aware that storytelling is an essential skill for business school professors, they are beginning to help their own professors learn the skills involved. But as storytelling is essential in business itself, why isn’t it taught properly alongside other business disciplines such as finance, business models, competitor analysis, organisation behaviour and strategy?

In addition, is it only individual class sessions that need to be storified? Is it not also the way entire modules are taught? How about the curriculum as a whole? Far too many students graduate from business school with some sense of the individual subjects or modules they studied, but no overall sense of how the different modules fit together. They received no framework regarding business as a whole.

This brings us back to companies embracing purpose as something central to their business models, rather than peripheral. To get the best results, business schools, like business, need to zoom out their focus on numbers and frame them within narratives that matter. It’s high time for business schools to embrace the transformative power of storytelling, not just as an add-on, but as a core component of their mission. Doing so will help revitalise the businesses they are preparing tomorrow’s leaders to serve. With generative AI set to disrupt both arenas and empower changemakers, the timing could hardly be better, nor more urgent.

Headline image credit: Nathan Trampe on Unsplash

Jyoti Guptara is a story strategist, speaker and the author of Business Storytelling from Hype to Hack

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Experiential learning projects offer rich potential for showcasing positive social impact at business schools. Splash Projects MD Simon Poole outlines their value at a time when institutions are increasingly being judged on their contribution to sustainable development and purpose over profit

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A World of Difference

An annual summer school offered to executive MBA (EMBA) students studying at multiple locations around the world allows participants to come together and transform their differences into assets that drive personal growth. Director of EMBA programmes at the School of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG-Uqam) Kamal Bouzinab offers an in-depth guide to an intensive week of experiential learning, cross-continental dialogue and networking.

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New programme brushes with fine art

Business Impact: New programme brushes with fine art

New programme brushes with fine art

Business Impact: New programme brushes with fine art
Business Impact: New programme brushes with fine art

Geneva Business School has launched the Fine Art International Management MBA – heralded as being the first of its kind.

Covering topics that include finance, art law, technology, logistics, ethics and compliance, the programme’s aim is to prepare managers for careers in art sales, banks and museums, as well as roles that work with cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

“There has never been a more exciting time to get into the art world. The pace of change over the past year has been electric,” explained Geneva Business School programme manager Sixtine Crutchfield-Tripet. “The added complexities of new digital formats have highlighted the industry’s need for people with real business management expertise. We have designed this course specifically to meet that demand.”

The English-language programme encompasses six conferences, as well as involvement in a school-wide intensive leadership week that is designed to allow participants on all master’s programmes at Geneva Business School to network.

The school says it is the perfect place to study an MBA in art because Geneva is a centre of art law and home to a renowned free port thought to contain art collections worth $100 billion. Switzerland is also home to celebrated art fair Art Basel. The programme’s first cohort starts classes this autumn.

This article originally appeared in the print edition (Issue 3 2023) of Business Impact, magazine of the Business Graduates Association (BGA)

Read more Business Impact articles related to course design:

Business Impact: Diving in: action learning with impact
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Experiential learning projects offer rich potential for showcasing positive social impact at business schools. Splash Projects MD Simon Poole outlines their value at a time when institutions are increasingly being judged on their contribution to sustainable development and purpose over profit

Read More »

Download the latest edition of the Business Impact magazine

Cover Story

A World of Difference

An annual summer school offered to executive MBA (EMBA) students studying at multiple locations around the world allows participants to come together and transform their differences into assets that drive personal growth. Director of EMBA programmes at the School of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG-Uqam) Kamal Bouzinab offers an in-depth guide to an intensive week of experiential learning, cross-continental dialogue and networking.

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Business Impact

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Meeting hospitality’s evolving demands

Business Impact: Meeting hospitality’s evolving demands

Meeting hospitality’s evolving demands

Business Impact: Meeting hospitality’s evolving demands
Business Impact: Meeting hospitality’s evolving demands

Almost exactly 12 months ago, hospitality industry leaders from around the world highlighted the need to attract more professionals to the global hospitality sector, in a Sommet Education report, entitled The State of Hospitality 2022.

Specifically, the report uncovered the latest talent management issues in the hospitality industry, including employment and skills’ scarcity as well as the importance of ethical recruitment, diversity and inclusion.

It also identified some emerging talent areas that are needed – some of which relate to specific roles – and outlined what can be done by governments and other sector bodies to help organisations attract, develop and retain talent. In support of these issues, the role of  higher/business education institutions and other training actors featured prominently.

Echoing this sentiment, the authors of 2022’s updated The Future of Hospitality Management Education Report “clearly advocate higher education in hospitality management in the UK”. Commissioned by the Council for Hospitality Management Education in association with the Institute of Hospitality, this report also calls for greater collaboration between educators, professional bodies and businesses to seize the opportunity across Europe and beyond. 

Adapting and updating leaders’ knowledge

Hospitality management is constantly evolving and progressing in step with the acceleration of new technologies and customer demands. As the international hospitality business becomes ever more complex, its leaders need to adapt their approach and update their knowledge to stay ahead of the key issues and trends.

That is why ESSEC Business School (ESSEC) and Glion Institute of Higher Education (Glion) a business school specialising in hospitality and luxury professions, have joined forces to offer a flexible Global Executive Master’s degree in Hospitality Leadership. The programme is aimed at hospitality executives or career switchers who have already built a foundation of managerial experience and who now feel ready to move to the next level.

ESSEC benefits from a long expertise in hotel management training. Its flagship programme in this area is its master’s in hospitality management, known as IMHI for its original name of Institut du Management Hôtelier International, launched more than 40 years ago and has trained more than 1,700 managers who now occupy key roles in the sector. Glion, meanwhile, is a highly regarded hospitality management school with alumni that hold some of the most influential positions in the industry around the world.

The new master’s is a 12-month programme and is set to welcome its first participants in November 2023. It aims to help professionals access strategic positions and specialise in the sector with studies that can be combined with their working lives by means of a part-time digital format.

Areas of focus

At the heart of the programme are four 12-week flexible learning modules which zero in on the issues and challenges that dominate the agendas of international hospitality leaders today. For example, how strong is your intercultural management? As a manager within one of the most diverse of all industries, do you have the skills to get the best out of a team in which many cultures are represented? Other key leadership skills, such as change management and leading in VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) times, are also incorporated.

In addition, the programme will also encompass all the hard skills around operations, finance, technology, investment, marketing and economics that have to be part of the modern hospitality leader’s toolbox. With labour costs continuing to cause headaches amid the ongoing ‘war for talent’, it is vital for any business to get better at retaining and developing employees, as well as using their human resources in the most effective ways. This programme is therefore designed to enable ambitious and passionate professionals to train and transform themselves by acquiring cutting-edge knowledge, as well as soft skills that will empower them to be responsible and influential leaders in the hospitality industry who will then be able to combine value creation and sustainability.

Residential weeks and capstone project

Supporting the core distance learning modules are four residential weeks, which are held at Glion campuses in Montreux in Switzerland and London, as well as at ESSEC campuses in Paris-La Défense in France and Singapore. There are also bespoke masterclasses on topics that include the metaverse, blockchain technology and crisis management in hospitality.

After the 12-month taught curriculum, participants will have additional time to complete a business research project to earn their master’s degree, awarded jointly by Glion and ESSEC. Designed to be entrepreneurial, this project is at the heart of the programme’s learning approach – helping students contribute to future solutions as well as adapt to the changes and challenges facing the industry.

Hospitality is so much more than a business and people in the industry are more than a key success factor – they are the very heart of the industry’s DNA. Good education is, therefore, the best way to seize the new opportunities within hospitality’s evolving landscape.

Ashok Som

Ashok Som (pictured left) is academic director of the ESSEC-Glion Global Executive Master’s degree in Hospitality Leadership.
Francine Cuagnier is head of marketing at Glion Institute of Higher Education.

Francine Cuagnier

Read more Business Impact articles related to course design:

Business Impact: Diving in: action learning with impact
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Experiential learning projects offer rich potential for showcasing positive social impact at business schools. Splash Projects MD Simon Poole outlines their value at a time when institutions are increasingly being judged on their contribution to sustainable development and purpose over profit

Read More »

Download the latest edition of the Business Impact magazine

Cover Story

A World of Difference

An annual summer school offered to executive MBA (EMBA) students studying at multiple locations around the world allows participants to come together and transform their differences into assets that drive personal growth. Director of EMBA programmes at the School of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG-Uqam) Kamal Bouzinab offers an in-depth guide to an intensive week of experiential learning, cross-continental dialogue and networking.

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Towards education’s new data-driven era

Business Impact: Towards education’s data-driven new era

Towards education’s new data-driven era

Business Impact: Towards education’s data-driven new era
Business Impact: Towards education’s data-driven new era

In recent years, there has been a huge increase in new educational methods that are based primarily on the tools that technology offer. In this framework, we need to first create the assumption that technological tools and instruments not only assist didactic methods and educational norms but, due to their growth, that they have also generated their own learning methodology. 

In this sense, it is fundamental to begin by focusing on the phenomenon of ‘learning’. In general terms, the concept of ‘learning’ can be defined as the means by which humans acquire different skills, abilities or knowledge through their study, research or experience, or through being taught by others.

In more systematic words, learning is a cognitive process by which a person’s experience may alter their future observations and activities permanently and in ways that are usually beneficial in terms of productivity or efficiency.

Taking all of this into account, we might summarise learning as a cognitive process of acquiring knowledge through the use of experience, with the subsequent learning causing long-lasting or permanent changes to a person’s level of knowledge and insights about the world. With this definition, learning would be the central purpose of any form of education.

Data-driven education

In our modern world, both digitisation (including how we map our observations into digital and computational formats and structures) and digitalisation (how we construct digit-based digital systems) stem from data.

This means that a person’s data is the most important and valuable building block of all digitised and digitalised systems. Data expresses how an individual sees the world and how they make sense of their world based on his/her observations and insights. In such a framework, a person’s learning processes and, consequently, their education in tomorrow’s world will rest heavily on ‘data’ and, subsequently, we will have data-driven education (DDE).

DDE focuses on the conceptual, logical and pragmatical identification, description, classification, interpretation and organisation of a person’s data in various conditions and contexts.

The systematic development of DDE will, therefore, be interrelated with how learners:

  • See their learning
  • Describe and conceive their learning
  • Interact and communicate with other learners as well as their teachers
  • Produce more data for deeper analysis and assessment
  • Make decisions in different contexts

Human and machine learning

In the framework of DDE, learners’ knowledge of the world will emerge out of collections of their data relating to their education-driven learning activities. In DDE, we will therefore need to carefully observe and interpret how learners will need to see the world to understand their own education-driven activities and collect more data – be it textual, numerical, or pictorial and so on – based on how learners have behaved in these activities.

Using quantitative and qualitative data analytics, DDE will also be able to offer descriptive, prescriptive and predictive models for the analysis of learners’ behaviour. In this way, we can typify and categorise learners’ data and organise various classified and clustered data, respectively.

The ultimate goal is to be able to analyse learners’ various descriptions, explanations, justifications and argumentations in different contexts and conditions. The DDE framework allows us to look at learners’ creative and innovative learning activities based on an understanding of how they might interact with these activities.

We can now be sure that information technology has changed all aspects of human life, including education. However, technology can never offer a substitute for human wit and all the other qualities and characteristics that define us as humans. As such, we must have the wisdom to use the evolution of technology in a collaborative way and learn from it. This is why we call the process ‘human and machine learning’.

Kyriakos Kouveliotis is provost and chief academic officer at Berlin School of Business and Innovation. Maryam Mansuri and Farshad Badie are head of postgraduate studies, and vice-dean of the faculty of computer science and informatics, respectively, at Berlin School of Business and Innovation.

Read more Business Impact articles related to course design:

Business Impact: Diving in: action learning with impact
course design

Diving in: action learning with impact

Experiential learning projects offer rich potential for showcasing positive social impact at business schools. Splash Projects MD Simon Poole outlines their value at a time when institutions are increasingly being judged on their contribution to sustainable development and purpose over profit

Read More »

Download the latest edition of the Business Impact magazine

Cover Story

A World of Difference

An annual summer school offered to executive MBA (EMBA) students studying at multiple locations around the world allows participants to come together and transform their differences into assets that drive personal growth. Director of EMBA programmes at the School of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG-Uqam) Kamal Bouzinab offers an in-depth guide to an intensive week of experiential learning, cross-continental dialogue and networking.

Want your business school to feature in
Business Impact?

For questions about editorial opportunities, please contact:

Tim Banerjee Dhoul

Content Editor
Business Impact

Tim

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Continuous interaction, continuous improvement

Business Impact: Continuous interaction, continuous improvement

Continuous interaction, continuous improvement

Business Impact: Continuous interaction, continuous improvement
Business Impact: Continuous interaction, continuous improvement

The evolution of business and management education, as well as the focus on experiential learning to prepare students and learners for an agile, competitive and regularly changing global marketplace, have been gaining in pace for decades. This trend has been impacted by Covid-19, turning specific and lifelong learning at large on its head, but opening endless opportunities for change and accelerating discussion about the future of learning.

The disruption can push business schools to be more creative and expand their academic teaching, research and service offerings while capitalising on the power and reach of digital transformation. One thing should be clear: we should not go back to a pre-pandemic business-as-usual mode of operation. If that happens, it will suggest that we have missed an opportune moment to leverage the possibilities offered by advanced technologies to transform and enhance students’ and learners’ educational journey and better prepare them for the future. A future that will surely be impacted by the growing digitisation trend and opportunities enabled by the emerging technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, including, but not limited to, AI, data analytics, cloud computing and robotics.

Rethinking the future of learning

It’s time to rethink the future of learning through the lens of improving the skillset and capacities required in the marketplace, instead of focusing on legacy approaches reflected in traditional curricula, lecturing and conventional exams, and assessment techniques. More attention should be directed towards creative learning modes, the depth and breadth of content covered, student and learner mobility, on-campus extracurricular activities, and off-campus pre-experience learning environments.

Undoubtedly, in the not-too-distant future, the learning process at one end and the assessment of learning outcomes at the other end will rely on a more innovative and interactive model. This is likely to include more embedded remote collaboration in research projects, opportunities for virtual and cross-border internships, integrated hands-on learning and participation in virtual co-op programmes. 

However, given that the learning environment, by design, promotes peer-to-peer and in-person communication, we need to find the right balance between in-person and virtual interactions. One thing is for sure, the future of learning will undoubtedly be based on a hybrid model.

A holistic, student-centred learning experience

The transformation in learning model will not happen by investing only in digital platforms. It will materialise by developing a holistic, student-centred learning experience on campus and online. This learning experience should form part of an ecosystem that includes a changing role of faculty members becoming mentors; classrooms transforming into roundtable discussions; more campus-wide interdisciplinary curricular activities; and off-campus projects that advance societal impact and support community development.

At the School of Business of The American University in Cairo – a school that in 2022 celebrates 75 years in the higher education space in Egypt and the Middle East North Africa region – one of the primary learning goals for students is career readiness.

Since 2019, the school has been working with one of its long-standing strategic partners, PwC, to ensure that students’ skills, capacities and knowledge are relevant to today’s changing global marketplace. Last year, we also introduced an experiential learning co-op programme. This elective, three-credit course offers undergraduate students the opportunity to get that all-important hands-on experience with an organisation before graduation – whether from the private sector, government, or civil society – over the course of six months, on a full-time basis.

For our school, rigorous assessment has always been an essential pillar through a well-established and integrated culture of continuous improvement among faculty, staff and students. In this new programme, students are evaluated on the basis of learning objectives that are pre-identified by a faculty member and an executive from the host organisation. The programme seeks to provide a personalised experience for each student, depending on their field of study, with the aim of developing challenging opportunities for students to fully immerse themselves and fulfil the learning objectives. 

It is a win-win proposition for both sides. On the one hand, the programme provides an excellent opportunity for employers to identify potential talent, manage short-term hiring needs and enhance their on-campus brand. On the other hand, the process of matching each student with a host organisation related to their field of study ensures a value-added and student-centred learning experience.

Accordingly, business schools should continue to transform themselves as vibrant environments through a series of reimagined and adaptive hybrid learning models. Doing this entails moving into a constant state of assessing risks and leveraging prospects, from disruption to adoption, from local to global, from risk avoidance to innovation, and from offering one-way education platforms to enabling multiple interactive and interconnected learning ecosystems.

The power of learners’ voice and opinions

All these suggestions about the way forward are reflections of students’ (in degree programmes) and learners’ (in executive education and community development activities) voice and opinion, as I recently wrote in Explorance’s Feedback Matters: Business and Management Education Focus Report.

Their thoughts were expressed through continuous interactions with them in focus groups, surveys, deliberations, panel discussions and engagement with student-led clubs and associations. Representatives of undergraduate and postgraduate students and learners also participated in the school’s council and advisory board meetings.

The input of students and learners, together with comments received from the school’s corporate partners and employers, is invaluable in ensuring that the school’s different academic, executive education and community development offerings are able to adapt to remain impactful and relevant.

Ultimately, the future of learning will require an increase in experimentation, discovery, collaboration, creativity, adaptability, inclusivity and community development. There is still a lot to learn within a continuously dynamic and changing global environment. However, rest assured that while the future of learning will continue to change, student voice will be a powerful informer of that change.

This article originally appeared in the print edition (August 2022) of Business Impact, magazine of the Business Graduates Association (BGA).

Read more Business Impact articles related to course design:

Business Impact: Diving in: action learning with impact
course design

Diving in: action learning with impact

Experiential learning projects offer rich potential for showcasing positive social impact at business schools. Splash Projects MD Simon Poole outlines their value at a time when institutions are increasingly being judged on their contribution to sustainable development and purpose over profit

Read More »

Download the latest edition of the Business Impact magazine

Cover Story

A World of Difference

An annual summer school offered to executive MBA (EMBA) students studying at multiple locations around the world allows participants to come together and transform their differences into assets that drive personal growth. Director of EMBA programmes at the School of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG-Uqam) Kamal Bouzinab offers an in-depth guide to an intensive week of experiential learning, cross-continental dialogue and networking.

Want your business school to feature in
Business Impact?

For questions about editorial opportunities, please contact:

Tim Banerjee Dhoul

Content Editor
Business Impact

Tim

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What is the future of bachelor’s degrees in business?

Business Impact: What is the future of bachelor’s degrees in business?

Undergraduate expectations are evolving under the conditions imposed by Covid-19. Business Schools should see this as an opportunity to change their offerings for the better, says Jordi Robert-Ribes, CEO at EDUopinions

The education sector has been vastly impacted by the events of the last year. Whether it’s the increased dependence on online learning or the worsening economic forecast, student and graduate life has been altered drastically by the pandemic. Inevitably, this has also triggered a shift in student concerns and priorities. As institutions adapt to a ‘new normal,’ students have had their first taste of hybrid learning, and are discovering the pitfalls and benefits of it. Additionally, students that are now graduating into a challenging jobs market are re-evaluating which skills will help them to seek employment. 

This shift in student perspectives is undeniably a challenge for Business Schools and their offerings at the undergraduate, or bachelor’s, level. As such, a reimagining of the traditional bachelor’s programme may be necessary to live up to new student expectations. But what will the future of bachelor’s degrees in business and management look like? To explore this, it’s necessary to examine how student demands are changing and what institutions can do to adapt to shifting priorities. 

The pandemic’s impact

The greatest change to bachelor’s degrees over the last year is a direct result of the pandemic, and that’s the increase in online learning. The speed at which institutions were forced to transition to online learning meant that there were inevitably some teething issues in the use of technology and how students were taught. Students were quick to criticise. 

Pre-pandemic, it was already clear that universities were not putting education technology to use successfully. A 2019 YouGov report surveyed more than 1,000 students on the use of technology in the classroom, and only 11% of students said technology at their institutions was ‘innovative’. Though the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in the classroom, it’s likely that, for many universities, not much has changed in that time with regards to the complexity of technology and how it’s being used.

Reviews from the EDUopinions website emphasise how students have reacted to the switch to online learning. One bachelor’s student of international business in the Netherlands, for example, explained their disappointment at the lack of contact between students and professors online. They also mentioned that the reliance on pre-recorded lectures has reduced engagement and participation in their course. 

Generation Z students – those currently graduating from university – are perhaps our most technologically advanced generation so far. These students want technology that is reliable and easily accessible. Universities must keep up with these demands if they want to continue to use digital technology in the classrooms for their bachelor’s degrees. 

A volatile graduate jobs market

As well as adapting to online learning, undergraduate students have also had to face the prospect of a more difficult jobs market on graduation. Before the pandemic hit, only half of graduates had confidence in their ability to find a job, but this has since dropped to a third, according to a survey of those in the UK from YouGov.

An annual report from the UK’s Institute of Student Employers (formerly the Association of Graduate Recruiters) also lays bare the scale of competition within the graduate jobs market. Its research shows that up to 90 candidates are now fighting for every graduate job. With so much competition for roles, it makes sense that graduates are reconsidering how to stand out from the crowd. For many, this means looking at the value of their bachelor’s degree and how well it has prepared them for a volatile skills market. 

Students are reassessing the value of their skills as well as how they can make themselves more employable. Even if graduates do secure a job or internship, the subsequent job retention has also been down because of the pandemic. Research from graduate careers organisation, Prospects, has revealed that among final-year students who secured a job post-graduation, 29% of them have subsequently lost them. An additional 28% of students have had their graduate job deferred or rescinded and 26% have lost their internships. It begs the questions, ‘are bachelor’s degrees preparing students fully for the unpredictable world of work?’ and, ‘could universities and Business Schools be doing more to give students the skills to rebound from job losses and succeed with future job applications?’

Many Business Schools already have a careers or jobs service that students can refer to during their studies. However, in a period of sustained economic downturn, it’s no longer enough for these to be voluntary. Careers need to be an integral part of the degree. In research from the University of Greenwich Students’ Union, students specifically asked for more guidance on the transition from graduation to full-time careers and requested that recruitment fairs be held throughout the year. More and more, students are looking to their degrees for not just technical skills, but job skills. Those that fail to provide this – especially during periods of jobs market volatility – will undoubtedly see trust in their institutions and bachelor’s degrees fall. 

Value for money 

Lockdowns have forced universities to close and move many classes entirely online, causing students to question their degree’s value for money. Although tuition fees have largely remained the same, many are calling for a change in what they pay while students have little or no access to campus facilities like libraries, careers services and department offices.

According to a 2020 survey from the Higher Education Policy Institute last year, 31% of students considered their courses poor or very poor value, up from 29% in 2019. The Office for Students – the independent regulator of higher education in England – noted in a keynote address in June 2021 that they had received more than 400 notifications from students and staff members since the outbreak of the pandemic relating to course satisfaction. Chief Executive, Nicola Dandridge, concluded that while online learning provides some benefits, face-to-face teaching is equally, and if not more, important for students. 

Dissatisfaction is noticeably more pronounced in the UK, where tuition fees for university education are now the highest among the world’s most influential countries. However, students elsewhere in Europe also believe that the value for money at their universities has decreased over the course of the pandemic, to date. One business administration student in Germany described, on EDUopinions, how their course content has decreased because of the pandemic, adding to other issues including a lack of communication and disorganised staff. 

How can institutions adapt?

From these trends, it’s clear that demands are shifting. Students want greater access to education through technology, to be better prepared for the jobs market, and to get more out of their tuition fees. But what does this all mean for universities and Business Schools? 

While we’re not yet at the stage where universities are set to decrease tuition fees for courses that mainly take place online, it’s true that more needs to be done to improve the value for money of bachelor’s degrees. We don’t yet know the future disruption that Covid-19 could bring, and universities need to be prepared for future bouts of online learning. This is especially true for business degrees, in which elements of in-person networking and group learning that often rely on a campus presence are crucial. Investment in more advanced education technology that can allow Business Schools to come closer to replicating real-world events online is therefore important. 

Outside the trends investigated here, students are also increasingly seeing the value in having diverse voices in the classroom – and online learning is a valuable tool to accelerate diversity in the classroom. While the switch to digital tools over the pandemic has had some teething issues, many students have welcomed the greater access to education that this has brought. In particular, disabled students have applauded long-awaited progress in flexibility and online learning. Now, many are hoping that digital tools remain a permanent feature of university life. For those who struggle to make it to on-campus lessons – because of health concerns or other constraints on their time, like work or caring responsibilities – online learning has been a blessing. 

To further improve access to education, it’s clear that universities should continue investing in online tools, and improving the flexibility of their bachelor’s degrees. This could mean introducing more part-time programmes, or simply broadening course availability so that some modules can be taken online while others remain tied to in-person teaching. 

However, improving accessibility is useless without also improving student support. In one EDUopinions review, a student in the Netherlands lamented that attendance policies did not accommodate those who felt uncomfortable returning to campus, yet at the same time it was impossible to obtain disability support or reasonable accommodation. As long as universities continue with a hybrid learning model but fail to support students who need more access to online resources, they won’t be offering students exactly what they want and need.

In terms of course content, it’s also obvious that bachelor’s degrees need to do more to encourage soft skills acquisition, as well as the technical skills required. Universities and Business Schools have always had a duty to prepare students for the outside world, but this has never before been tested in such a volatile economic period. Improved employability resources could encompass an increase in compulsory careers sessions starting from the first year of every bachelor’s degree, plus an increase in recruitment fairs, both on-campus and online. 

However, it may also be that bachelor’s degrees introduce additional modules on employability in the form, perhaps, of employment workshops and additional activities to improve soft skills. This level of preparing for employment is already available on many MBA courses, where students often complete a mandatory leadership or soft skills module. Introducing this to more programmes at the undergraduate level would go some way to preparing students for the future jobs market, no matter how unpredictable the economy might be when they graduate.

The future of bachelor’s degrees in business 

In the future, it’s clear that bachelor’s degrees are more likely to occupy a hybrid space – partly on-campus, and partly online. Tools like online discussion boards could help to keep students up to date even where they’re not at university, while the increased use of videoconferencing tools will also improve access to global conferences and other international opportunities, meaning a student’s experiences are no longer limited to the country they are in. Bachelor’s degrees may also feature additional courses on employability to secure job prospects. 

The changes in student demands also represent an opportunity for Business Schools to become more accessible and make university education more egalitarian. Make online learning a mainstay of bachelor’s degrees and you also offer opportunities to students who would otherwise not be able to make it onto a full-time campus programme, further diversifying the classroom. Introducing more mandatory employability sessions can also contribute to boosting social mobility by helping disadvantaged students into high-earning careers. A change in student priorities does not need to be seen as the death of the traditional bachelor’s degree, but as an opportunity for innovation and change. 

Jordi Robert-Ribes is CEO at student reviews platform, EDUopinions. Jordi holds a PhD in telecommunications engineering and a graduate diploma in finance management.

This article is taken from Business Impact’s print magazine (edition: February 2022-April 2022).

What can management learn from medicine?

Business Impact: What can management learn from medicine?

Management is remarkably casual about testing the efficacy of its practices, but this needs to change, write Rob James and Jules Goddard

Imagine medicine without experimentation, or pharmacology without clinical trials. It seems impossible in today’s world. Yet, for most of history, we have relied almost entirely upon unproven, ‘quack’ remedies for the treatment of illness and disease. 

The story of medicine is the story, in part, of fake cures in which the unwell were persuaded to place their faith. We had bloodletting, leaches, snake oil, lobotomies and much more. For centuries we trusted in physicians, faith healers, shamans, medicine men and other authority figures to decide what was in the best interest of our health. 

It’s only within the past century or so that we have created a disciplined, experimental approach to answer the fundamental questions posed by any new treatment, drug, or therapy: Will it work? Is it safe?

 These were the questions that dominated concerns around the Covid-19 vaccines. The answers were provided through imagination, exploration and by impartial, controlled experiments with rigorous analysis of the results. 

By contrast, management prefers to rely on market signals to judge its performance and on ‘best practice’ to shape its approach. Imagine the answers to the questions above if medicine had been dependent upon ‘best practice’ to develop its response to the pandemic. Modern medicine sets a higher hurdle for its ideas to jump than business does. 

How confident are we that management practices would survive the clinical testing that drugs must pass to be made lawfully available? Is the faith we place in such practices any more rational than that once placed in bloodletting? 

In 2017, Bain & Company’s Management Tools and Trends Survey found the 10 practices in the table to the right to be most relevant. But 17 years earlier, the rank order was rather different. While digital transformation and economic cycles have influenced such comparisons, for many techniques, there seems to be no reason why their popularity has waxed and waned. Management practice seems to be a product more of fashion and contagion than of evidence and research. By contrast, the knowledge and action that informs medicine or engineering develops gradually, systematically, and cumulatively. 

With management theory, there does not seem to be the same path of progress and the result is a workplace often ruled as much by tradition as by science. Some business practices will turn out to be effective and valuable, but many will be shown to be overblown, injurious, or mistaken. They are the 21st-century equivalent of ‘quack’ remedies. 

So, what can business education learn from the evolution of medicine? How can a scientific approach to problem-solving and strategic planning help to navigate the complexities of today’s business world? 

Experimentation forces us to make our reasoning explicit

In a typical business plan, how much attention is paid to stating the make-or-break assumptions in a testable format? Is it just a set of numerical targets? In each case, we are relying on rather different success factors, with business regarded as either a test of perspiration and perseverance or one of inspiration and insight. 

The experimental frame of mind says: ‘Stop asking “what results do we want to achieve?” and “what outcomes count as success?”’ These are banal questions to which every competitor in any industry will have similar answers. Instead, competitive advantage begins by asking: ‘On what assumptions are we banking to deliver these outcomes, and what evidence do we have that they are true?’ 

Experimentation liberates the human imagination

The experimental mindset is one that relishes creativity. It is not afraid of appearing naïve, foolish or unorthodox. The importance of this lies with recognition that great entrepreneurial ideas are rarely self-evident and can be eccentric or idiosyncratic. We need to stray outside of our notions of common sense if we are to bump into great business ideas. 

Experimentation not only inspires people to be more imaginative in seeking options, but also to be more disciplined in their evaluation. This contrasts sharply with the standard method of strategic planning where little creativity goes into the content of the strategy and yet a spirit of ‘anything goes’ is invested in its execution… as long as targets are met.

Experimentation acknowledges human fallibility

When we start with intention, we move to plans, targets and milestones, missing the critical ingredients of knowledge and conceptual foundations. 

Experimentation starts in the right place – with what we need to know rather than what we need to achieve. It starts with our ignorance, not with our desires. With an acknowledgment of our own fallibility, we find ourselves exercising curiosity, listening to each other, and formulating conjectures. When we ask, ‘what don’t we know that we need to know?’ it becomes the material from which sustainable strategies are constructed. 

Experimentation changes attitudes to risk and failure

The list of transient practices described in the Bain report are often the result of ‘social proof’ or herd mentality. Management techniques become popularised as people seek ‘best practice’ to avoid the risk of falling behind competitors. They seem blind to the fact that ‘best practice’ is plagiarism, with little being achieved by dutiful obedience. The real competitive advantage is the preserve of those who first experimented with the concept or idea. Changing attitudes to risk and failure can make the difference from being a follower to a leader. 

Experimentation encourages boldness to try new ideas and catch the first wave of innovation.It means applying a process in which risks are mitigated and failure is viewed as learning. It allows organisations to test strategies in discrete market segments or small parts of the organisation. ‘Farming the bets’ rather than ‘betting the farm’, spreads risk and creates freedom to try things out. It encourages people to test a wider span of ideas because the costs of failure are lower. 

Experimentation encourages ‘agile’ competences

In science, experimentation exemplifies the virtues of patience, humility, open-mindedness, curiosity, and objectivity – qualities that are rare in most businesses where leaders are mainly rewarded and recognized for behaviours that deliver timely results and solutions. However, an over-reliance on authority, experience, and an alacrity to get the job done in these situations, becomes limiting when applied in complex business environments where imagination, nimbleness and dexterity are required to succeed. 

Leaders that do flourish in such an environment are comfortable with ambiguity and shun control as the only way of decision-making. They are suspicious of shortcuts, compromise and received wisdom. They seek new solutions and different ways of working. In short, they develop a set of skills and behaviours that makes them more agile leaders – they become experimentalists. 

Rob James MBE is the Founder and Managing Partner of a leadership consultancy practice and a Programme Director at London Business School.
Jules Goddard is the leading proponent and practitioner of action learning programmes at London Business School. He is also a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.
Rob James and Jules Goddard are the authors of Business Experimentation: A Practical Guide for Driving Innovation and Performance in your Business (Kogan Page, 2021).

This article originally appeared in Ambition – the magazine of the Association of MBAs.

Making it personal

Business Impact: making it personal

The impact of globalisation and consumerism on business education. Ellen Buchan and David Woods-Hale share key themes from an AMBA & BGA roundtable event

Higher education is becoming borderless, moving from a domestic industry to a global one, competing internationally. According to the European Commission, almost half of all member states consider attracting and retaining international students to be a policy priority.

For students, options around where to study are expanding at no extra cost, while from an institutional perspective, the range of potential customers is increasing. However, this means the level of resources allocated to marketing must also increase, as will the need to implement high-quality and efficient marketing strategy. 

In addition, institutions will have a wider range of nationalities, cultures, and behaviours on campus, and will have to adapt and personalise all processes and services in order to provide a unique student experience to those new global profiles. Currently, students on campuses are a mix of digital natives (the generations of young people born into the digital age), digital immigrants (those born during the 1960s and ‘70s who learned to use computers at some stage during their adult life) and analogue natives, born before 1960.

By contrast, in 2025, 100% of the students will be digital natives. Providing a quality experience for a digital native student will – and must – become a critical decision point in the potential student (customer) interaction with the institution at the marketing and recruitment stage.

Students will treat educational institutions as a regular business from a consumer perspective. This is supported by a 2020 consumer report by Salesforce.org, which shows that 78% of students expect their experience to be personalised.

In a bid to explore these themes, address the challenges above and share insights into the solutions needed to address the fast-changing marketplace, AMBA & BGA, in association with Salesforce.org, brought together a group of Business School leaders to discuss the impact that globalisation and the rise of consumerism is having on business education – and how this will reshape the fundamentals of the MBA in the future. 

Here are some highlights of that conversation. 

Julio Villalobos, Director, CXO Strategic Industry Advisor, Education EMEA Center of Excellence, Salesforce.org

We need to treat our students not only as students, but also as customers, which is how they are being treated in many other industries. We must keep that concept in our mind and reflect it in our processes around the student’s 360º journey. Students became alumni – potential lifelong learners and customers of the future.

Timothy M Devinney, Chair and Professor of International Business, Alliance Manchester Business School

I think students have been trained by the administrative structures of universities and Business Schools to believe that they are customers. I have always argued against that. 

The problem is that when you start taking a consumer attitude (asking if they want ‘fries with their theories?’, as I jokingly put it) we end up in a world in which Business Schools are very transactional, and are measured according to the immediate satisfaction of the student, who may have no idea of the future value of what they are being taught. 

The interaction with international students, in particular, is mainly transactional. They pay their money, do a lot of things, and then go home and hope to be able to get a job. We have seen, in the case of Australia (where international students have questioned the value of their university experience) that this can be a short-term win but, in the long run, it corrupts the overall educational experience. The question I have always asked is: ‘Do you have a transactional model, or do you have a relational model?’ The best Schools are very good at avoiding the transactional model and trying to build a relational model, but you must invest a lot in order to do this, and few Schools know how to do this well.

I have started to argue for a rental model of degrees; it goes back to micro-credentialing. Rather than signing up for a one-year programme where students go through modules intensively in a year, they sign up for a plethora of things. I propose that institutions sign contracts with students that commit to providing them with a whole series of opportunities, for a set of fees, over a period of 10 years.  

The idea that you enter higher education at the age of 25, and know what you want, simply doesn’t work – nor is it realistic. Even if you know what you want to do (or think you do), the ground is going to shift under you. You want to minimise the risk associated with this. So instead of a one-year programme, you have a portfolio of provision from the institution. This becomes very relational and  ensures students don’t forget what they learn because they get ‘booster shots’ that keeps that knowledge from waning. 

You could partner with other institutions to become a portal for learning; some elements you would provide, others you would just facilitate. Different institutions could then specialise, rather than having to be be all things to all people. They could be much nimbler and more adaptive.

Vincenzo Baglieri, PhD, Associate Dean Masters Division, SDA Bocconi School of Management

The amazing success we had in the past couple of years on MBA programmes is mainly because of the move from a transactional approach to a relational approach. 

That was the consequence of redesigning programmes to include more ‘peripheral’ activities, working on the soft relational competencies, and taking care of students from a lifelong perspective. 

With the full-time MBA students, it’s harder, because they are more transactional then the executive MBA students. They apply because they are very ambitious people, and they expect an impressive return on investment. Thus, the Business Schools teach them all the content they may need, even if it’s useless in the very short term. I guess we should take more of a longitudinal perspective, moving from a full-time MBA to a full-lifetime MBA programme.

I see a potential change in our business model, because the one we all adopt currently is still very transactional; we are still based on a very old model. We operate like factories, but we should act as theatres. We are not creating a product, but having a transformative impact on our students. 

Jane E Armstrong, Senior Director, Education Industry Solutions, International, Salesforce.org

Students have greater expectations and are used to a more relationship-driven, customised approach in their day-to-day lives, due to consumerism. Thus, they have similar expectations of their universities. There is an opportunity for universities to further enhance relationships with students and to deliver a more personal experience, making it easier for them to get the support they need – inside and outside of the classroom – and to provide more rewarding and enriched learning experiences. 

As one university president often states: ‘Everything in the classroom should be hard, but everything outside of the classroom should be easy.’ 

This is where there is an opportunity to make a university more ‘consumer’ driven and to deliver a more seamless, tailored student experience. 

In terms of future opportunities, universities need to leverage – and harness – their data. However, that’s often challenging because the data tends to be very siloed and disconnected. Increasingly, universities are asking how they can connect the data across their institutions so that they can have the insights to make the strategic decisions needed to deliver their missions and visions. 

Also, universities are increasingly exploring and adopting new technologies that support ‘cradle to grave’ – from recruiting the right students to their institutions (those who they know will be successful) to engaging these individuals as lifelong learners (the people who want to come back for reskilling or upskilling). Thinking about all these opportunities, universities are fundamentally questioning how to adapt their business models and embrace digital transformation.

Grażyna Aniszewska-Banaś, Associate professor, Canadian Executive MBA Director, SGH Warsaw School of Economics 

I think that digitalisation changes the consumption patterns, the communication patterns, and requires some cultural changes in terms of the organisational culture of universities, knowledge centres, and MBA centres. It requires different values, norms and ways of thinking about the students. I believe in creating communities, because whether we’re talking about customers or clients, it is better in terms of values to create a community where every member has the support of the community. 

In terms of the delivery of knowledge, an idea that we have in our programme comes to mind. Every graduate is able to go back to our School and take any course they want for free – so that they can refresh the knowledge and find out about about trends, gain new skills, and so on. What’s important is the sharing of the experience and skills. So, the students receive some of their knowledge from our graduates; they are practitioners, they can share their experience with current students. 

I think that the changes in the business models are about the relationship, about the creation of community, and being open to the knowledge of our graduates and the students. It should be two-way communication.

José M Martínez-Sierra, General Director, UPF Barcelona School of Management

Right after I arrived at Harvard in May 2012, there was a headline in the Boston Globe saying that Harvard and MIT would join EdX. A number of articles said that was going to change higher education, with these two institutions (and others) giving out degrees for free. There was a wave that said everything was going to change. What we have learned from it is that the fundamentals always remain. 

Education, and our Schools, are providing students with two things: one is skills, and the other thing is a network. That professional network is going to be with you throughout your life. It’s a combination of what we do in the classroom while the students are in our Schools, plus this great club that we are trying to build at the same time. 

I think that the transformation we are going through is in the second part of our dimension; it’s the community we are creating and how this community and professional network is coming along in relation to our learning.

Gerardine Doyle, Full Professor, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin

MBA students come to us because they want an excellent, personalised student experience; they want to be here in person and on campus. The experience of the pandemic has accentuated this – students crave human connection and interaction. In the coming years, our challenge is going to be around how we achieve and maintain that optimal experience; which elements of our programmes (teaching, teamwork, and co-curricular activities) will be in person and which may be suitable for the online environment? While our students are with us on campus, how can we provide the best possible student experience? 

This is going to be our greatest challenge: finding that optimal blend that will achieve our learning outcomes, while also providing a personalised learning journey. Conversations with our students throughout the pandemic brought this idea of personalisation to the fore as a feature of our MBA programmes which is very important to them.

We reopened our campus for two weeks in September 2020; however, we then had to return to online delivery due to public health requirements. Our students crave and value peer-to-peer interaction and strong connections with faculty, and so the relationships they build up during their MBA journey contribute to that special and personalised experience. 

Our cohorts of 2020 and 2021 have asked whether they can return in future to participate in new modules and executive programmes, which highlights that the lifelong learning for MBA alumni is definitely something that our students desire.

We create a personalised experience. For example, each individual student has their own mentor – an alumna/alumnus of our MBA programme, many of whom are working in senior positions in leading global financial services, technology or pharma companies, or are entrepreneurs. 

During their MBA journey, our students work closely with their mentor who guides them throughout their learning and leadership journey. This mentorship experience is very important.  

In addition to the classroom experience, and the rapport developed with our faculty, extracurricular and co-curricular activities are critical to the personalised, lived student experience. 

We have been innovative in developing the leadership skill set of our students by enhancing our global leadership programme and enabling our students to develop their intercultural competencies.

Roundtable attendees

Grazyna Aniszewska-Banas, Director of Executive MBA, SGH Warsaw

Jane E Armstrong,
Senior Director, International Education Industry Solutions, Salesforce

Vincenzo Baglieri,
Associate Dean of Masters Programs, SDA Bocconi

Timothy M Devinney,
Chair and Professor
of International Business, Alliance Manchester Business School

Gerardine Doyle,
Associate Dean, UCD, Michael Smurfit
Business School

Jose Manuel Martinez-Sierra,
Director General, UPF Barcelona School
of Management

Julio Villalobos,
CXO Strategic Advisor, Salesforce

This article originally appeared in Ambition – the magazine of the Association of MBAs.

Spearheading change and igniting innovation in an uncertain world

Chess board with a bronze pawn standing out. Symbolic to strategy, igniting innovation, spearheading forward with change.

Representatives of TBS Business School, ESADE, and Lagos Business School consider new approaches to management education and methods for meeting the changing needs of students and employers

Bringing together pioneers in the field of Business School innovation, Chair of AMBA & BGA Bodo Schlegelmilch led a discussion on the trends that decision makers in higher education need to anticipate at the fully online AMBA & BGA Global Conference 2021.

Representing Business Schools in Spain, Nigeria and France, panellists delved into digital transformation and the future of business education, disruption in the sector, and programmes and course delivery can evolve to reflect the changing needs of students and the future requirements of employers.

Panellists also outlined their post-Covid-19 predictions for how Business Schools must prepare themselves for the ‘new normal’ and future-proof themselves against continuing volatility.

For example, David Stolin, Professor of Finance at TBS Business School, described how his partnership with comedian, Sammy Obeid, has helped bring ‘novel perspectives’ to students and to innovate their learning. He explained that ‘collaborating with people outside the traditional Business School environment is very fruitful’, adding that the work had started prior to Covid-19, but that the pandemic had prompted him to find the most engaging audio-visual content.

The idea of ‘making education palatable and entertaining’ was noted by Schlegelmilch with regards to ESADE Business School’s work on the gamification of education.

Chris Ogbechie, Dean and Professor of Strategic Management at Lagos Business School, pointed out that one of the most significant implications of Covid-19 is that competition is no longer limited by geography. As a result, students have few restrictions when it comes to choosing programmes and related materials. Schools, such as his own have therefore been charged with finding new ways of staying relevant and capturing the attention of students outside the School’s traditional catchment areas.

Ivanka Visnjic, Director of the Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Management at ESADE Business School, noted that the industry is experiencing an acceleration in the adoption of technology, highlighting the use of video in content delivery, and increased competition in the learning marketplace. She explained that ‘Business Schools are competing with global brands, head-to-head, with no geographic boundaries’, and that this is forcing them to re-examine their value proposition for students. Visnjic used the analogy of online videos being less like a movie, and more like the theatre wherein, ‘students are co-producers’ of knowledge: relevant guest contributors can be invited to the stage to stimulate conversation, thanks to the new technologies moved to the forefront of learning by the pandemic.

Chair
Bodo Schlegelmilch, Chair, AMBA & BGA; Professor of Marketing, WU Vienna

Speakers
Chris Ogbechie, Dean and Professor of Strategic Management, Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University, Nigeria
David Stolin, Professor of Finance, TBS Business School, France
Ivanka Visnjic, Director, Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Management, ESADE Business School, Spain

This article is adapted from a feature that originally appeared in Ambition – the magazine of the Association of MBAs.

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