Business case studies with widespread impact

Business Impact: Business case studies with widespread impact

Business case studies with widespread impact

Business Impact: Business case studies with widespread impact
Business Impact: Business case studies with widespread impact

Case studies developed by the Case Development Centre (CDC) at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) were among the most used cases in 2022, according to new figures from one of the world’s largest and most diverse repositories of management cases, articles and book chapters.

Two RSM cases were among the 10 most popular free cases at the Case Centre, while a further case made the top 15 in its entrepreneurship category. Sustainability and social impact are a recurrent theme in all three of the cases recognised – a fact that highlights RSM’s commitment to these issues, according to the school.

Director of the CDC at RSM Bas Koene also pointed to the value its cases bring to the industry. “Being at the top of this ranking proves yet again that RSM cases are appreciated and well used by teachers and lecturers around the world,” he said.

One of the two free cases listed is entitled Interface: creating a climate fit for life through carpet tiles. Steve Kennedy, associate professor in RSM’s Department of Business-Society Management and the case’s co-author, expressed his belief that it “enables students to dive into corporate strategy for net positive climate action.” With reference to all three cases, Kennedy added: “Climate change strategy is itself highly detailed and requires close attention which these cases help to provide.”

The other free case is entitled Flying parts: best practices in organisational innovation following implementation of new technologies. It aims to show how technological innovation can impact job quality and underlines the need for supporting organisational innovation.

RSM’s collection of free business cases is available through the Case Centre’s platform. It includes cases about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the adoption of innovative business models. Managing editor at RSM’s CDC Tao Yue said: “We carefully select our free cases to make them open access and they all deal with topics about sustainability or social impact.”

This article originally appeared in the print edition (Issue 2 2023) of Business Impact, magazine of the Business Graduates Association (BGA).

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How important is mentoring in the development of accredited business school programmes?

How important is mentoring in the development of accredited business school programmes?


A crucial component in the development of accredited business school programmes, mentoring is an essential tool for business school students and staff alike.

In this article, we discuss the importance of mentoring in the development of world-leading accredited business school programmes, along with the role of mentoring in personal leadership development.

At the Business Graduates Association, we’re proud to be an international membership and quality assurance body of world-leading, high-potential business schools. Our impact stretches far and wide, with 240 BGA member schools, and 98 AMBA-accredited business schools now holding BGA Membership.

If you would like to find out more about what it takes to become a member institution, please contact our Membership Director, Victor Hedenberg at who will be happy to provide further insight.

Mentoring for professional development

Mentoring is an essential tool when developing crucial leadership skills. An accredited business school will strive to prepare its students to become some of the sector’s best, most reputable leaders.

By implementing high-quality business school mentorship programmes, institutions can:

  • Improve post-graduate employment rates
  • Engage alumni
  • Increase the number of students finishing the course
  • Recruit talented, dedicated future leaders.

Accredited business schools actively inspire their students by providing them with a better understanding of the career paths and resources available to them. From offering CV and job-search advice to connecting students to a network of working business professionals, mentorship can lead to an improved educational experience.

Learn from the best

Mentorship enables students and graduates to learn from the very best. Whether it’s coaching students or young entrepreneurs, professionals can share their expertise, answer questions, and provide invaluable support and guidance.

Mentors can also offer opportunities for students to practise their leadership skills in real-world settings, either through engaging in workshops or attending industry events.

Build a personal brand

An outstanding mentorship programme can allow individuals to develop their personal approach to business. By working with exceptional business professionals, mentees can gain valuable insight into current best practices and receive guidance on navigating the complexities of professional life.

By investing in mentoring programmes, business schools can help students reach their full potential, setting them up for successful, long-lasting professional careers.

BGA membership

BGA membership can provide students and graduates of accredited schools with access to a range of tools, designed to support their professional development. Our career development centre supports individuals in building a powerful CV, finding the right job for them, assessing their career path and so much more.

If you would like to find out more about the benefits of BGA student and graduate membership, please visit here. Alternatively, simply use the navigation on our site to discover more.

The role of mentoring in leadership development

Providing future leaders with the guidance, support and feedback required to succeed, mentoring plays a crucial role in leadership development.

Increase self-awareness

By helping mentees recognise their strengths, along with any areas of weakness, mentors can assist in increasing self-awareness, developing plans of action, and providing ongoing feedback throughout the programme.

Whether you’re looking to boost your confidence, improve your industry knowledge or develop your communication skills, your mentor can hold you accountable for your actions. An accredited business school should always be challenging its students, encouraging them to think critically, and making responsible choices that align with their future goals.

Improve communication & interpersonal skills

Mentoring is an excellent resource for students and graduates who are looking to develop their communication and interpersonal skills. This includes assistance in preparing for big presentations and guidance on how to manage emotions effectively in a professional setting.

Offer perspective

Based on their own experience, mentors can provide invaluable insight, perspective and approaches to problem-solving. By working with people from different personal and professional backgrounds, mentees can broaden their understanding of the field, developing a unique approach to business.

Premium services, built to encourage innovation

At the Business Graduates Association, we believe institutions should venture beyond conventional means of teaching and research. By joining the BGA network, your business school will become part of a global community with a shared commitment to positive impact, responsible management and lifelong learning.

Mentorship plays a significant role in what we do at the Business Graduates Association. We strive to encourage individuals to engage with professionals who once shared similar goals and aspirations.

Get in touch

Want to elevate your business school? Learn more about what it takes to become an accredited business school today by getting in touch with our team.

Alternatively, if you are currently studying at, or have recently graduated from a BGA member school and would like to discover more about the benefits of BGA membership, please click here.

Read more Business Impact articles related to
professional development:

Download the latest edition of the Business Impact magazine

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Tim Banerjee Dhoul

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In it for the long haul: how to welcome international faculty members

Business Impact: How to welcome international faculty members

Business Schools that want to attract the most talented professors from around the world need to have robust integration strategies in place. NEOMA Business School’s Nathalie Subtil outlines how to welcome new recruits during their first few days and lay the foundations for their long-term retention over their first year

International faculty have become a coveted resource in the business and higher education community, as institutions aim for diversity in staff as well as students. This is not to suggest that domestic talent pools are drying up – far from it – but sourcing expertise from around the world can offer new perspectives which lead to long-term innovation and improvements in teaching.

However, Business Schools that want to attract the most talented professors need to have robust integration strategies in place, as this softens the change experienced by staff when they relocate to a new country.

Without proper procedures to acclimatise them to their surroundings, new recruits can fall prey to feelings of alienation as they grapple with a lack of understanding of the local language, culture or infrastructure – which affects everything from opening a bank account to navigating bus routes.

If such feelings are allowed to fester, the end result is that the professor will either return to their home country or transfer to another institution where their needs will be met. Business Schools must remember that if faculty are willing to emigrate to work for you, they will also be prepared to do the same for your competitors.

The following suggestions are drawn from my current role of overseeing the resettlement of new recruits at NEOMA Business School (NEOMA). I hope that they can provide a jumping off point for other institutions that are creating or reviewing their welcome procedures.

Softening the plunge

Acclimating to a new workplace full of faculty who study, teach and research similar topics is usually the easiest part of moving to a new country. Departmental and institutional events also provide opportunities for staff to get to know one another. Problems are more likely to occur in a professor’s private life, caused by everyday activities that most people don’t consider. In particular, international recruits’ partners and children can add to the difficulties they may have in adjusting to life in a new country.

Imagine yourself on a plane which has just touched down in a new country. Your place of work is guaranteed, but what other thoughts might go through your head? Where will you live? How will you set up a bank account? Where are the nearest hospitals? Where will your children go to school? What will your partner’s career look like?

At NEOMA, we begin the welcome process as soon as new recruits touch down. We ensure that they are picked up at the airport by a bilingual driver and taken to fully furnished accommodation which we have rented for them for the first four months of their stay. Utilities are all provided as part of the package and we also include food and household supplies so they are not rushing around within the first 24 hours looking for somewhere to buy breakfast.

Sometimes, additional needs must be considered. For instance, if the new professor or one of their family has medical requirements, we make sure their new home is furnished with essential equipment and an appointment is booked with a doctor who speaks their language ahead of their arrival.

We also don’t want our staff getting lost and stressed on their first commute into work, or trip to the shops. As part of the integration process, we provide detailed tours of their neighbourhood that provides key details like the location of supermarkets, pharmacies and schools, as well as public transport information.

Ensuring long-term integration and happiness

It’s all well and good making sure the first week goes smoothly, but what about the first year? Business Schools aiming for long-term retention of international faculty need to help set the foundations for them to build a life in their new country.

NEOMA’s resettlement strategy places a specialist integration team at each new faculty member’s disposal. These teams provide them with support in arranging everything from bank appointments with bilingual advisors to school registration for a professor’s children. Spouses and partners should not be forgotten about either, as they can be left stranded with nothing to do and little understanding of a new language and culture.

In order to be effective, approaches to settling new international faculty must be holistic and address the entire family unit. This is why our integration teams also provide French language lessons for staff and their partners, as well as job search services for partners seeking to restart their careers in France. City tours, involving trips to local markets, are also offered, to help immerse families in the local culture.

Although we arrange for accommodation for international faculty recruits for the first four months of their stay, this provision does come to an end. However, we make housing search services available to lessen the pressure on the family to find more permanent lodgings. The integration team stays assigned to the household throughout the professor’s first year and sometimes for longer.

We are aware that in the competitive business and higher education landscape, Schools must always look to improve their integration practices. But, as someone who was formerly in the same boat as many of our new international recruits, I am proud of the comprehensive and holistic care we provide. The first year living in a foreign country is the most challenging time for a professor and their family, and by remaining present in their lives, we are able to provide tailored care to suit their needs.

By welcoming new international faculty from the point of their arrival in the country, we aim to provide them with as easy a transition to living and working in their new country as possible and give ourselves the best chance of retaining talented professors in the long term.

Nathalie Subtil is Academic Director at NEOMA Business School. Her duties include overseeing the resettlement of new international faculty recruits. Her teaching background is in accounting, auditing and corporate finance.

How are Business Schools capturing, and acting on, student feedback?

Business Impact: How are Business Schools capturing, and acting on, student feedback?

Discover five trends in Business Schools’ collection and use of student feedback, based on a new report from Explorance

Changes to teaching and learning, initially as a result of Covid-19, raised serious questions about how the student voice is captured and acted on, especially given higher education’s reliance on face-to-face approaches for doing so, and how this links to student satisfaction.

Institutions are adopting a number of approaches when it comes to ‘listening’ to students’ views about their teaching and learning experience (and wider student experience) and what comes back should be a critical informer of strategy development. It is a huge issue, and a huge challenge for the sector, which needs insight on ‘how’ to do this.

Examining global perspectives on student feedback

Feedback Matters: Business and Management Education Focus Report, a new report from Explorance, examines how student feedback – including feedback derived through evaluation surveys – influences institutional enhancement. It also poses the question: ‘How can the student voice deliver transformational business and management education?’

Based on in-depth thinking from senior academic and professional staff from Business Schools, as well as business and management faculties, around the world, the report shares strategies underpinning student insight; differentiated approaches to capturing, and responding to, student feedback; and how challenges are being addressed. It also highlights best practice case studies on student voice policy and implementation, and delves into the future for teaching and learning in business and management education, including how student feedback will support this evolution.

With perspectives gathered from Australia, Egypt, Sweden, UK and the US, the report shows just how seriously student feedback is being taken and how business and management education providers are collecting and responding to feedback about different aspects of the experience at different points in time. This is, of course, not just an issue facing business and management education – it affects the whole university sector – and indeed, two other reports we have published in the past 18 months show that student ownership and engagement is fundamental to the success of this process.

Five trends in student feedback

So, as Business Schools and university-based business and management faculties have ramped up their approaches to student engagement/student feedback, what are the common trends emerging that institutions need to know?

1* Institutions have successfully ‘pivoted’
Covid-19, and the move from face-to-face to online learning, means that alongside traditional end-of-module evaluation surveys, many institutions have embraced mid-module surveys for assessment of teaching and learning. Pulse surveys – providing quick and light-touch feedback – have also risen in prominence given the need for institutions to better understand how students are feeling at any given time. These are used for course evaluation and wider assessments of student sentiment and wellbeing.

2* Students don’t know how feedback is used
Students’ perceptions – and lack of understanding – as to how their feedback is used, how it might immediately benefit them, and how it is applied by their institution for quality assurance and quality enhancement purposes, is a problem. While there is a clear expectation from student leaders that institutions should actively listen to course evaluation feedback, better and more open communication is required to help students understand what changes are possible in follow-up and, therefore, to manage their expectations.

3* ‘Closing the loop’ remains the biggest issue
Closing the feedback loop is, and has been for a long time, the biggest challenge facing institutions around course evaluation surveys and one that is still not addressed sufficiently. Students expect to see change as a result of their feedback. However, there is a lack of consistency in how the sector approaches this and closes the loop. Institutions need to be much clearer on how they act on course evaluation survey feedback and be more transparent on what they can and cannot do in response.

4* Opportunity to delve into demographics
For a long time, institutions have talked about the need to better understand how different groups of students view their course. For example, through an analysis of feedback based on the characteristics of populations, such as age, race and gender. Delving deeper into who is satisfied or dissatisfied with their education experience could support student progression, satisfaction and (for those who may be unhappy) retention. This has fallen off the radar during the pandemic, but a number of institutions are now picking up projects to better understand demographic data. They are also capturing the views of students on different modes of delivery.

5* Course evaluation surveys are here to stay
Academic leaders generally share the opinion that traditional module evaluation surveys remain a hugely valuable component of capturing student feedback, with student reps highlighting these as ‘robust and measurable’. End-of-semester summative evaluation surveys – which provide standardisation on questions that enables comparisons between courses/between cohorts –  are being complemented with formative feedback. This gives lecturers the opportunity to seek feedback through bespoke, non-standard, questions during a module. Evaluations are also generally all done online now.


Whatever direction the pandemic, or other global events, take over the next 12 months, and their impact on teaching and learning, student feedback is a proven approach to informing quality assurance and enhancement within institutions. Given the rich data they provide, surveys will remain the primary channel for student feedback on the educational experience. Institutions questioning where they put their efforts – or new beginnings – post-Covid, should consider combining the best of old and new ‘normals’.

John Atherton is General Manager (Europe and Africa) at Explorance, which helps Business Schools and universities improve teaching and learning through the way they capture, analyse and respond to student feedback.

Agents of change: inclusivity in academia

Colouring pencils and people holding hands. Business Impact article image for Agents of change: inclusivity in acadmia.

Covid-19 has exposed a number of global inequalities and is set to deepen them further. Can higher education and academic research help turn the tide? Sally Wilson draws on findings from Emerald Publishing’s Global Inclusivity Report 2020 to tackle topics of social mobility, class divides and inequalities, from an academic perspective

Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus long-standing inequalities linked to race, gender, class, income, education, health, and technology. The pandemic’s disruption to education, for example, has had an unequal effect on society, particularly impacting disadvantaged groups that lack access to a computer and/or reliable internet.

In the UK, for instance, the class divide within education has plagued headlines for months. Over the summer, the scrapping of its A-level exams for those leaving high school in favour of a marking algorithm sparked uproar when the new system downgraded close to 40% of grades submitted by teachers, with suggestions that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to have their grades marked down. Such issues reinforce the UK education system’s long-standing inequalities. A 2018 study by educational charity, the Sutton Trust, found that access to the best universities is not only determined by attainment but factors including where a student lives and the school they attend. The Access to Advantage report revealed that 42% of all Oxbridge places go to private school students, even though just 7% of the UK school population attend such schools.

Universities playing their part

Inequalities in education persist worldwide and many universities are working to improve the representation of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, or first-generation students, in line with their commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Business Schools have a pivotal role in reducing inequalities because of the high number of MBA graduates who go on to hold leadership positions within companies. Many Business Schools recognise their responsibility in encouraging diversity and have introduced measures, such as bias training and targeted recruitment drives, to attract students from underrepresented groups.  

Diverse teams are widely known to be more successful. Research by software firm, Cloverpop, found that diverse groups made better decisions than individuals 87% of the time and that decisions were made twice as quickly. At a time when the global economy and societies around the world are reeling from the impact of Covid-19, Business Schools may be more critical than ever in aiding our recovery and promoting a fairer and more sustainable future for all. 

Class is a major roadblock to inclusivity

Gathering the views of more than 1,000 academics across 99 countries globally and comparing them to those of 1,000 members of the general public in both the UK and US, Emerald Publishing’s Global Inclusivity Report 2020 sought to understand the academic community’s perceptions of inclusivity and the role of research in creating a more inclusive society.

It revealed that class was a barrier to inclusivity (41% of academics cited ‘class’ as a key barrier to inclusivity and this was the fourth biggest global societal issue; see chart below). Poverty and class are largely intertwined meaning those with the least have fewer opportunities to change their circumstances. Education lies within this cycle – the education a person receives is often linked to poverty and class, and those who are regarded as coming from the ‘lower classes’ have less chance of attending colleges and universities. 

Looking at individual countries and regions showed that class is a bigger issue in the UK than anywhere else in the world, where it is the third biggest barrier to an inclusive society (cited by 61%), not far behind poverty and race, both of which were cited by 69%. Class is also regarded as a bigger societal issue for an inclusive culture in Asia. Class is the third biggest issue (45%) behind poverty (61%) and religion (47%). One of the struggles researchers can find here is that institutions operate within a ‘city tier system’, meaning that if the same person did the same piece of research, or attended the same course, at tier-1 and tier-3 city institutions, the tier-1 city research/course can be regarded far better than that of the tier-3 city despite other factors remaining the same.

Closing the gap between intention and action

The inclusivity report looked to uncover how academia can play its part in removing barriers to inclusivity. It found that:

o 52% of academics believe research provides better evidence-based decisions. 

o 25% of academics believe research provides better public awareness. 

o 17% of academics believe research provides better education. 

In addition:

• 86% of academics rate inclusivity as something that is important to them personally, but feel that this is not matched by their institution (68% thought it was important to their institution), or by academia in general (64%), or by funders (50%). 

• 60% of academics cited ‘Biases in recruitment or promotions’ as the main barrier to a fair and inclusive workforce, followed by ‘Manager or leadership attitudes’ (57%) and ‘Too much pressure – career progression’ (46%). ‘Not enough mentoring’ wasn’t far behind, with 42%. 

The view that academia can contribute to inclusivity efforts is backed by similar reports that investigate the barriers of class and poverty. AMBA & BGA’s Poverty and Action study, for example, found that while only 38% of Business School stakeholders believe the business education community is doing enough to help the poorest in society, 75% think Business Schools could make a difference. Of those surveyed, 85% believe the global business community needs to do more but only 28% were able to report that their School is already taking action.

The research suggests that there is a gap between the desire for change, and action. However, this presents academic institutions with a significant opportunity to lead change and drive inclusivity. 

More research into issues around poverty, class and education will help to uncover the actions needed to promote inclusivity. Here, we can see where research and policy could drive institutional change that makes a fairer system for all. 

Does academic culture need to change?

In brief, yes, academic culture does need to change in order to further inclusivity. The research found:  

• Academic culture is not inclusive (55% agreed with this statement)

• Respondents highlighted ways in which that academia can make a difference. These include greater knowledge mobilisation (cited by 67%), more interdisciplinary research (60%), and more international collaboration (51%).

Without diverse voices and views, are we getting the best out of academia? How can we make sure that people from poorer backgrounds or different classes have sufficient space, at all levels? 

Academic culture also has its own workplace inclusivity problems. Bias in recruitment and promotion as well as issues with leadership could be stifling research’s potential to deliver change because this creates an environment that is not as multidimensional as it could be. 

While more than half of academics surveyed didn’t see academic culture as inclusive, an overwhelming majority believe that an inclusive society and workplace can deliver real benefits. 

The role of open gateways

It was clear from the report that academics believe progress on inclusivity relies on getting research into the hands of policymakers and decisionmakers that are able to make changes that can drive real impact. Respondents highlighted the importance of open gateways in driving change quickly and effectively. However, in this sense, there is not yet a
level playing field across the globe, as some areas are further in their open research, data and access journeys than other parts.

Initiatives such as Emerald Open Research (EOR) make SDG research available to all, thereby providing academics with an easy and rapid route to get impactful research into the hands of policymakers. Another key aim of EOR is to help reduce the inequality gap for contributors and research users. Meanwhile, programmes such as Research4Life aim to create more opportunities for those who would otherwise not be able to access scholarly content by providing free or low-cost online access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content.

Sally Wilson is Head of Publishing at Emerald Publishing, where she is responsible for the strategic development of Emerald’s global publishing programme, comprising journals, books and teaching cases.

This article was originally published in Ambition, the magazine of the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

Exploring Business Schools’ challenges in Latin America

Latin America, Argentina, Buenos Aires downtown with traffic cars at night around the Obelisco.

We share insights from leading Business School professors who attended AMBA’s 2018 Latin America Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, about their Schools’ current strategies, challenges and opportunities. Interviews by Jack Villanueva

Alejandra Falco, Strategic Management Professor, Universidad del CEMA

What challenges do teachers, instructors and professors face when using online technologies in their courses?

The main challenge is to understand that teaching online is not the same thing as teaching face to face. You have to think about the course and your class in a different way. When you teach face to face, you are between the student and the materials so you can see what’s going on in the class, you can see the reactions of the students to what you are saying and the material you are using. This does not happen in the online environment so you can’t make decisions on the spot. 

Schools need to help instructors understand that [online learning] is different [to classroom learning] and make sure that they don’t reproduce what they do face to face in an online environment. It needs a transformation. 

In terms of the online MBA and studying from distance, do you think the experience, learning and the outcome for these students is the same as for those who learn face to face?

It’s an interesting question because the challenge we face in an online environment is to foster learner-to-learner interaction. It is easy to interact between instructor and learner, but the challenge is the learner-to-learner interaction. 

There is something that happens naturally in a face to face environment, so if we can manage this interaction adequately and develop tools to allow the students to interact among themselves, the online option will be richer than the face-to-face option. If we can have the same attributes in an online environment, we add much more flexibility for the student to choose when and how and where he or she wants to study.

Ignacio Alperín, Professor of Creativity and Innovation, Pontificia Universidad Católica

How is business thinking changing around creativity?

Creativity is a process that involves more than one person, it is never an individual idea; it is a communal kind of work. Creativity is the step prior to innovation. Creativity is putting together the correct ideas, innovation is putting together the correct product or service and making it happen in real life. 

Every company expects their graduate or postgraduate students to be open to the idea of being creative, working in a different way, of accepting different manners of work ethics that are not traditional. This not only involves those who come in to work for a company, it has a lot to do with leadership as well. 

Perhaps there is an issue with expectations versus what actually happens in companies. There are too many bosses and too few leaders. There are a lot of people who tell you what to do but very few people who inspire others to do things. In that regard, creative leadership is also a major subject and companies are slowly coming around to the idea that they need to change their leadership style.

Do you think Business Schools are sufficiently inspiring to instil creativity in their students?

When we’re children, we’re extremely creative and we don’t have limits. We like to explore and ask about everything. In Schools as it stands, the creative spirit is squashed by a system that requires students to be right or wrong. 

Creativity is a gift and should be developed like any other talent. We have all been provided with the talent of creativity but when people get to university or Master’s level, they have been kept so far away from their creative juices and, in many cases, it is very difficult to bring them back in touch with themselves and give them inner strength because creativity is a strength. 

We are completely and constantly improvising our lives. Companies, for a long time, tended to squash this, but today, organisations realise that they need to be open and think laterally. If the education system can change enough, many of the problems we face today will be gone because people will come up line already living their creative ability throughout their careers.

In your role, are you trying to unlock existing creativity or teach the creativity?

It’s a bit of both. When I find a master’s class with 30 students, most of them are professional people. They think they know everything and have already made it, and in some respects they are right. 

They will be future leaders, but it’s sometimes difficult to tell them: ‘I am teaching you and I don’t know everything; perhaps you should relax a bit and question yourself about the facts you thought were correct.’ 

By unlocking that vault they will find another Pandora’s Box of issues and problems, but if they learn how to handle them, they may find a way to make their work more effective, their company profitable, their life more exciting and more enjoyable; they may go home and feel like having fun with family instead of taking their troubles with them and feeling miserable when they’re not at work. 

Part of my job is unlocking those talents, it has to do a lot with people’s fear of being wrong in front of other people. After that, we teach processes, ideas and concepts that can help students unleash creativity in themselves and the people with whom they work.

Is it the Business School’s responsibility to lead students towards an uncertain path?

Many students believe the world is divided into creative and non-creative people. We try to erase all this and explain we are all creative – different types of creative but all creative. 

Sebastián Auguste, Director Executive MBA, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

What are your views on the current global MBA market?

The MBA is the most popular programme within the Business School: about 79% of the applications we receive are for the MBA programme. Demand is growing in Asia, Europe and the US, and it’s increasing in Latin America. The full-time MBA is declining and numbers are increasing in executive and part-time MBA programmes. There is also strong demand for some Master’s degrees such as business analytics. 

How is the EMBA faring?

The EMBA is small but it’s growing in many regions. Many students finish at university graduate level and decide to do a speciality such as a masters in analytics or finance, and then they go for the MBA later when they’re older. Young people are trying to gain more technical abilities; older people are trying to gain more general skills.

How popular is the online MBA?

The numbers show that the online MBA is growing. I previously expected the number to grow, but the increase isn’t as great as I expected. There has been a strong increase in the blended format, even in EMBA programmes. Online is coming very strongly but I don’t see the online MBA replacing the experience of the EMBA or the part-time MBA. You have to learn and you have to be there to learn. It’s quite difficult to learn online.

What’s the effect of specialist programmes on the MBA and on
Business Schools?

Specialist programmes are going to relegate the [generalist] MBA. There is going to be a fall in demand from young people wanting to do an MBA, but an increase in older people wanting to do one. 

In Latin America, you have very technical and specialised degrees so there is less demand for special programmes. Many universities are moving in this direction of having more general graduate-level study, so you’ll need more specialisation later on.

Carla Adriana Arruda Vasseur, Associate Dean, FDC – Fundação Dom Cabra

Why do you think Business Schools should have a role in social development? 

We are the ones who are transforming the leaders of our society. We are working with business managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, company owners, and people who really run the economy of the country. If we don’t have this kind of focus, we will continue to live in a country with a lot of inequalities so it needs to start with us.

How can Business Schools leverage an impact on society? 

All Business Schools have some sort of social impact and development in their value prepositions. Talking is one thing, leading by example is another. We need to provoke students to think differently and to do differently. We need to provoke them to really make a change. And it won’t be just about talking and showing them our mission. It has to be in every single class we give, in the projects that we send them on, it has to be included in all our initiatives.

How can Business Schools help students have a more impactful role in the world of tomorrow?

If you look at Business Schools, most of their students are from the upper portion of the social pyramid and we need to show them how they can really make a difference – in every single class and in every single project. 

A lot of our students come to us because they want management tools. They want to increase profit in their corporations, they want to better themselves in their careers. And, from day one, they realise we’re concerned about economic development but we’re also very concerned about social development. 

Do you work with other Schools to push this idea forward?

We have a partner we’ve been working with on modules and we’re putting an emphasis on that. But I think we can do more. I’ve been talking a lot about that [during this conference] with partners. We need stop considering ourselves as competitors [with other Business Schools] and consider ourselves as ‘co-petitors’ and cooperate more with each other.

Is it a case of starting locally or looking at the bigger picture and effecting change at the top?

Begin with what’s feasible and build up. 

We’re starting to shape the leaders of tomorrow. We’re starting with the students of today to [help them] have a deeper understanding of social development and a deeper understating that there are larger problems in the world. But is there an issue with the bigger businesses themselves not recognising it or not recognising it fast enough and therefore the student not having an outlet for what they want to do?

A lot of the boards require their corporations to think about the social side. Some suppliers refuse to supply to organisations that don’t care about these issues and clients are not buying from them. 

We, as professors of business corporations, need to set the example. 

Michel Hermans, Professor of Human Behaviour and Human Resources, IAE Business School – Universidad Austral

How can Business Schools help students develop skills beyond the analytical tools in the curriculum through action learning?

It’s not only about teaching rational decision making. It’s about helping students anticipate risks and [influence] people who are especially relevant in certain contexts. That’s what we do and this is the added value we consider action learning has. This reflection part is a very important role faculty have. 

One thing is to think about is how to evaluate a company in turbulence. Another is to think how a company can actually use what it has – its resources – to transform its strategy for much broader markets. Think about internationalisation and the acquisition of companies in emerging markets, and then present this analysis to senior managers. 

Can students themselves better prepare for their careers through action learning?

It depends on the student themselves. 

Especially in the Latin American job market, recruiters are looking for ‘plug-and-play’ students so when they roll out of their programme they want students who need little time to be fully functional within the context of their companies. 

If they are able to find students who are proactive, and have used this productivity to actually do something within the context of their programme and learn something from that, it’s highly valued. 

How important is action learning in fast-tracking understanding around the need for adaptability and evolution within businesses? It’s like moving house. If you don’t lay foundations in the MBA programme (which would be knowledge and analytical skills) it’s hard to start thinking about action learning in the first place. 

You have to lay a solid foundation in the first part of the programme and then build on this with follow-up courses. That gives us, as faculty, the confidence that teams are able to benefit from action leaning. We launch most of our projects towards the end of the programme because that’s when students take advantage of the projects they are being offered that they themselves propose. 

We’ve seen many students use their action learning projects to move into new career tracks or to find a different job in companies with whom they collaborated for their action learning projects. 

If you do a full-time MBA programme and you are away from the job market for a full year, gaining contact with the job market again – with employers and organisational life – is fundamental to a follow-up career. 

Juan Pablo Manzuoli, Strategic Marketing Professor and Director of MBA, UCA Business School

What do you consider to be the main disruptive trends students are facing?  

I have highlighted deep trends that are not often evident. For example, millennials want the earth, but they don’t have special powers. Loneliness is another powerful trend, as is self-exploration.

What’s next for the MBA? 

We have to have a convergence between the needs of people and technology and make an improvement. Make things better. We need to adapt and be flexible in how we think and in our business models. This generation is teaching us how to make improvements in different ways not only with the technology, but with emotions. 

Luciana Pagani, Professor of Strategy and Competitiveness, Saint Andrews University

How is the digital age transforming the MBA experience?

Changing behaviours in individuals as learners, and technology, are providing opportunities to deliver a different experience [to students], enabling people to access courses no matter where they are. 

What challenges is the digital age presenting to the way Business Schools teach?

The digital age is creating a new world of opportunities for businesses, while also causing a lot of pressure and setting very different type of challenges. Businesses need to change the way they lead. 

Technologies have to be implemented and customer experiences are transforming, so at the company level, transformation is amazing but very challenging. 

Business Schools have to rethink their value proposition massively. They must consider how they are going to offer something of vital importance to their students to enable them to learn and access the best faculties all over the world, offering a unique experience that blends the best from the physical world and the digital world. 

It’s an enormous strategic and operational challenge for universities.

Schools are transforming in terms of content, so all the strategies and management content required to lead in the digital area is being added to traditional content. They are also adding a broader spectrum of elective courses to meet the specific needs of students. 

They are forming partnerships with industries, with other universities worldwide and with governments.  

They are also transforming their infrastructures in order to provide space for innovation, creativity, and experimentation and they are working across platforms to collaborate, and to enhance their value proposition, with the best faculty, the best universities and the best companies as partners.

Do you think Business Schools rising to the challenges sufficiently quickly, given the current economy? 

The challenge of the fourth industrial revolution is too aggressive for everyone. Universities are moving forward, but it would be nicer if they could move faster. However, it’s not easy. 

I hope the pace will increase and we will have more and more examples of convergence to the new value proposition in the near future.

Melani Machinea, Professor and Business Development Director, UTDT Business School

Tell us about the development of your specialised master’s degree?

A few years ago, we realised we didn’t have an offering for recent graduates who wanted to pursue a career in business. Either they had to do a Master’s in finance or they had to wait five or six years before they could do an MBA. At the same time, we discovered a need for very specific skills, so we designed a Master’s in management which merges the two sides of the story: business for those who come here from a science background and, for those with a business background the skill set they need for the new corporate world. 

We looked at the world. In Europe, there were a lot masters in management programmes which were launched by Business Schools, in addition to their MBAs which are still their flagship programme. In the US, we have seen the emergence of master’s in business analytics programmes. We decided we would have a competitive advantage if we could offer both management and analytics in the same programme.

The first challenge was the type of students we wanted to sign up. We decided early on that we wanted recent graduates or people with little analytical experience who could learn about areas such as  programming and coding through the courses that we were going to teach. When we launched, we realised that there were a lot of men in mid-to-higher management, people with 10-15 years of experience, who said they were lacking this expertise and wanted to do the degree. We had to make a decision at this point and we decided to stick to our initial plan of targeting younger professionals, while just offering short courses for more mature professionals. 

Do you think the MBA is evolving fast enough or do you think there is so much more that could be done?

I think the MBA is still a flagship programme in Business Schools, and the challenge is to maintain and update it to make it relevant. Our hope is that our students from the Master’s in management and other programmes will come back in five or six years to do their MBAs when they realise they need other skills related to management and strategic leadership.

Creating responsible citizens to lead organisations to sustainable success

Preparing MBAs to lead sustainable economic growth is the core task of Business Schools, argues Professor Percy Marquina, Director General, CENTRUM PUCP, the Graduate Business School of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Interview by David Woods-Hale

What do you think differentiates the MBA at CENTRUM PUCP?

When students search for a Business School at which to study their MBA, they look for prestige, a high-quality academic programme and networks. At CENTRUM PUCP, we possess and offer these elements to students. But we offer more than that.

We prepare our students for the future by creating responsible and socially committed leaders, who think, decide, and act based on principles. We believe in an holistic form of education that enables students to assimilate the knowledge they require to lead companies based on the experiences they have shared in our classrooms and in their lives. 

Our programme also provides students with the human skills demanded by companies, such as time management, task prioritisation, complex problem solving, the ability to train others and to build sustainable networks.

With reference to Latin America in particular, why is it still vital to develop world-class business education? 

Globalisation and interconnectedness are growing at an exponential rate; every day it becomes evermore important to understand that our actions have far-reaching impacts. As technology advances, it will become easier to reach new audiences, but it will be more important for professionals to acknowledge that competition is no longer local, but international as well.

What innovative teaching methods have you come across that are used to create the leaders of tomorrow?

Emerging, disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and machine learning are changing teaching methods in Business Schools and can help us to adapt teaching to each student’s learning needs. For example, at CENTRUM PUCP, we use IBM Watson Personality Insights analytics to understand and predict the personality characteristics of our students. Using these results, we take a more humanistic approach to our MBA programme.

How important is sustainability, and in what ways have Schools adapted this into their programmes? What does sustainable leadership looks like?

Sustainability is crucial nowadays and we try to instil this in our students. By sustainability, we mean that professionals should meet society’s needs, preserve humanity, increase opportunities for others and make their organisations’ marketing, finance and human resources departments sustainable. We guide students to take decisions that put society’s needs ahead of profits. 

What are the biggest challenges facing global Business Schools today?

The biggest challenge for Business Schools is helping to create responsible citizens. We must be able to develop competent professionals while guiding students through a process of social sensibility. And we must also be competitive. 

When facing global competition, we find that every School that has been able to obtain good results and trained their professional workforce is making a name for itself in the areas in which it excels. 

Gone are the days when professors used to teach traditional subjects in a static way; the time is ripe for a new model of professor who is able to inspire students’, teaching and learning from them in a constantly evolving environment that demands greater skills and vision in order to develop social innovators. 

At CENTRUM PUCP we have developed the NeuroManagement-Lab initiative, with the objective of identifying students’ main leadership competences and areas of development. Through this programme, we enhance the user experience, helping to personalise education, shaping skills and helping students to discover their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

How do you instil the thirst for global mobility and an international mindset in your students? 

Whenever I step into a classroom or I encounter a student, the message I always try to communicate is a simple one: do what makes you happy and you will lead the way. Having visited so many places, I have confirmed this theory: students overachieve when they are able to work and pursue their goals in something that makes them happy. 

If you are able to identify and understand your passions, your thirst and commitment towards your goals will increase every day and your competition will become global. 

You will innovate, search and look for solutions to questions that have never been asked before because your thirst for knowledge will push you to think more broadly. During their MBA, our students are exposed to global experiences such as international faculty, peers, global case studies, international study stages, business programmes abroad and so on.

You urge your students not to put limits on their goals – can you share some insight into how MBAs can take theory into practice? 

Through many case studies, we teach students the ways firms and managers have faced and solved unexpected problems. I advise them to stick to their principles and the message of their organisation. 

If your organisation has a distinctive characteristic or stands for something, wear it as your own personal badge of honour. 

One story that people can relate to is Apple’s. Steve Jobs, former Co-Founder and CEO of Apple, believed in innovation and in the superior quality and practicality of products. He used to say: ‘Apple products should be easy to understand. Everyone should know how to use them’.  

His team believed this, too – at a time when this was not expected – and created products accordingly. Acting in line with the beliefs of your organisation can help it differentiate itself in a saturated or extremely competitive market. 

At CENTRUM PUCP we promote entrepreneurship as a way of creating innovative business models. Several start-ups are created every year by our students, and have a great impact on society. For example, three graduates from CENTRUM PUCP and three from the faculty of engineering PUCP were among the 15 finalists in the Cisoc Global Problem Solver Challenge. The talented Peruvians developed Pukio, an intelligent mechatronic system that generates clean water through the condensation of water vapour in the air. Collaboration is vital in an uncertain climate. 

How does your Business School link and work with other Schools, employers and alumni? 

Relationships are about co-operation, and co-operation is about progress. We challenge ourselves to establish partnerships with other Business Schools to provide the best each School can offer in a combined MBA or specialised master’s programme. 

We promote co-operation between our departments to allow the ideas and innovation to flow through the veins of our School. We create opportunities for alumni to collaborate with us so that we benefit from the skills and experiences of the professionals we create in our classrooms. Co-operation has grown in importance among Business Schools and it is yielding better results.

What would your advice be to other Business School leaders operating in such a volatile and uncertain world?

Education is not about outcomes. It is about the impact. At CENTRUM PUCP, we have a mission: educate to serve. We serve academia, the business world and wider society. But we are also here to educate people about sustainable development. 

We want people to learn to thrive in a competitive world. Business Schools should also follow suit: educating people to allow them to see the bigger picture and teaching professionals how to lead the departments within their organisations.

Do you feel optimistic about the future of business, Business Schools, and the economy?

I believe we are all more aware of the global challenges ahead than we were a couple years ago. We are in the process of acknowledging the impacts of our actions and the dangers of not doing so over the long term. 

Business Schools have taken advantage of this. We teach students to think about impacts on society and how our actions can be turned into positive outcomes for the greater good. 

Sustainability is both an individual responsibility and about teamwork: we all have to engage in the right actions to produce a positive impact. I believe Business Schools are preparing people to provide sustainable and egalitarian economic growth.

Professor Percy Marquina is Director General at CENTRUM PUCP, the Graduate Business School of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. He was previously General Manager of Rhone Poulenc and General Manager, Commercial Manager and Marketing Manager of companies related to the Richard O’ Custer group. Marquina holds PhDs from the Maastricht School of Management and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in business administration and strategic business administration, respectively.

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