Meet the deans


The Australian - The Deal - - Contents - BY DEB RICHARDS

The heads of four lead­ing busi­ness schools ex­plain their plans for stay­ing on top, such as stronger links with Asia.

Melbourne Busi­ness School dean Zeger De­graeve took the job 18 months ago de­ter­mined to en­hance anMBA pro­gram that was al­ready sit­ting high in rank­ings and sur­veys of Aus­tralian busi­ness schools.

An ex­pert in cre­at­ing or­gan­i­sa­tional cul­tures that foster risk-tak­ing and qual­ity de­ci­sion mak­ing, he had pre­vi­ously con­trib­uted to ex­ec­u­tive de­vel­op­ment pro­grams for clients such as Chevron and Cad­bury-Sch­weppes in Africa, Europe, Asia and the US.

Dur­ing his 12 years at the Lon­don Busi­ness School, he was pro­fes­sor of de­ci­sion sciences and rose to be­come deputy dean of pro­grams. Then the Melbourne Busi­ness School caught his eye. At­tracted by the cal­i­bre of aca­demic staff, stu­dents and alumni, De­graeve ar­rived keen to help the school take full ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by glob­al­i­sa­tion and Asia’s vi­brant busi­ness world.

The re­vamped pro­gram now of­fers an in­ten­sive 12-month, full-time-MBA, in place of the tra­di­tional two-year course, and there is a strong em­pha­sis on pro­vid­ing ca­reer ser­vices. As well as core units such as ac­count­ing, stu­dents are coached in a vast ar­ray of per­sonal skills and im­mersed in cross-cul­tural sit­u­a­tions – not only work­ing with peo­ple from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, but across aca­demic dis­ci­plines. There are more than 40 top-level in­ter­na­tional-school ex­change part­ners and each MBA course group com­pletes a con­sul­tancy pro­ject in Shang­hai.

“We at­tract stu­dents from all over the world, and by work­ing with those class­mates on a range of projects, they de­velop an abil­ity to work with peo­ple whose laws, val­ues, styles of lead­er­ship or even ways of speak­ing might seem alien or hard to un­der­stand,” the Bel­gian-born De­graeve says.

The tim­ing is im­por­tant. With busi­ness schools in Asia grow­ing rapidly in num­ber, stature and am­bi­tion, Aus­tralia’s lead­ing full-time-MBA pro­grams need to stay com­pet­i­tive. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est

Grad­u­ateMan­age­ment Ad­mis­sion Coun­cil sur­vey, stu­dents eval­u­ate the manyMBAs on of­fer on the ba­sis of ac­cess to an alumni net­work, the qual­ity of ca­reer ser­vices, and the per­cent­age of the class re­ceiv­ing job of­fers. To re­main at­trac­tive, the GMAC sur­vey states, busi­ness schools must “get in­side the heads of their tar­get mar­kets”.

The Aus­tralian Grad­u­ate School of Man­age­ment at the Univer­sity of NSW’s Aus­tralian School of Busi­ness is do­ing just that. Dean Ge­of­frey Gar­rett has been in the job for eight months and un­der­stands the need to max­imise op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Our full-time pro­gram is the high­es­tranked Aus­tralian pro­gram in the Fi­nan­cial

Times Top 50 global rank­ings,” he says. “But we haven’t em­braced – and I don’t think any Aus­tralian univer­sity has em­braced – the chal­lenge and op­por­tu­nity of the Asian cen­tury enough.”

Be­ing in the Asian time zone, Gar­rett be­lieves it’s time to re-ori­ent busi­ness train­ing. “We al­ready have a course in ourMBA that takes stu­dents to Asia to bet­ter un­der­stand the busi­ness con­text, but there is scope to do a great deal more.”

Gar­rett wants to ex­pand the ASB’s MBA course in Hong Kong to make it a plat­form for Aus­tralian stu­dents to step into work ex­pe­ri­ence in the south­ern Chi­nese cities of Shen­zhen or Guangzhou.

“The dy­namic Pearl River Delta area is go­ing to be­come an 80-mil­lion peo­ple mega-city. You want stu­dents not just in a class­room, but be­ing out with Chi­nese peo­ple and work­ing in Chi­nese busi­nesses.”

The part-time MBA is be­ing re­struc­tured to bet­ter meet the needs of the bal­loon­ing num­ber of busy stu­dents with full-time jobs. This year, there were slightly more than 50 full-time MBAs but 1500 (mostly lo­cal) part-time stu­dents. The part-time ex­ec­u­tive course will grad­u­ally in­crease the amount of on­line course work of­fered for tech­ni­cally based core sub­jects, while face-to-face in­ter­ac­tive ses­sions, in which stu­dents learn about and prac­tise a suite of lead­er­ship skills, will be max­imised in in­ten­sive blocks of a week or so.

The Univer­sity of Queens­land Busi­ness School sur­prised its heavy­weight com­peti­tors last year by leap­ing to the front of the re­gional pack in one sur­vey, ranked by The Econ­o­mist as the top MBA provider in Aus­tralia and the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, and 27th glob­ally.

An­drew Grif­fiths, pre­vi­ously leader of the school’s “strat­egy clus­ter”, was ap­pointed dean ear­lier this year. He at­tributes the strong per­for­mance to an in­flow of tal­ented pro­fes­sion­als drawn to Queens­land’s min­ing boom and the as­sid­u­ous build­ing of alumni re­la­tion­ships.

“We have some­thing like 35,000 alumni spread across the world and we’ve ac­tively gone to key lo­ca­tions in North Amer­ica, Europe and Asia,” he says. “This has meant we can de­liver a range of ser­vices that at­tracts high-qual­ity stu­dents and in­ter­na­tional fac­ulty to teach and re­search with us. So it’s a vir­tu­ous cir­cle.”

UQBS stu­dent num­bers have dou­bled over the past three years, with Aus­tralians mak­ing up 85 per cent of the stu­dent body. They are of­fered im­mer­sion pro­grams – one group heads off this month to In­dia. That visit will be re­cip­ro­cated when the In­dian School of Busi­ness sends a group of stu­dents to Aus­tralia.

A prime of­fer­ing at UQBS is that se­lected stu­dents are placed into con­sult­ing teams with MBA stu­dents from the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s pres­ti­gious Whar­ton School. They com­plete a US mar­ket en­try or ex­pan­sion pro­ject over a 13-week pe­riod for a pay­ing Aus­tralasian com­pany.

The school’s So­cial Eco­nomic En­gage­ment Pro­gram is vol­un­tary, and does not count to­wards course cred­its, yet stu­dent en­rol­ments have more than dou­bled since it be­gan a few years ago. One group re­cently re­turned fromColom­bia, where it col­lab­o­rated with stu­dents from Jave­ri­ana Univer­sity in

Bo­gota, as­sist­ing peo­ple in the city’s slum ar­eas to es­tab­lish small busi­nesses. As a re­sult, Jave­ri­ana is es­tab­lish­ing its own so­cial en­trepreneur­ship course, and UQBS stu­dents will re­turn next year to mon­i­tor the re­sults.

“[Stu­dents] re­ally en­joy this abil­ity to give back,” Grif­fiths says. “But they also see this ex­pe­ri­ence as a dif­fer­en­tia­tor. And when they go out into the­mar­ket, em­ploy­ers are ask­ing them about th­ese pro bono projects and are more in­ter­ested in them than grades.”

Re­la­tion­ships be­tween Aus­tralian schools and over­seas uni­ver­si­ties are highly sought af­ter by stu­dents. The UTS Busi­ness School in Syd­ney has a long-stand­ing un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree run jointly with Shang­hai Univer­sity. Dean Roy Green, a noted spe­cial­ist in man­age­ment and work­place in­no­va­tion, spoke to the deal from Shang­hai, where UTS is ex­plor­ing joint post­grad­u­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to Green, UTSMBAs are quite dis­tinct from tra­di­tional cour­ses, whose foun­da­tions date from the 1970s. Its MBA pro­gramwas cre­ated in the 1990s and is more geared to the de­mands of global busi­nesses.

“Tra­di­tional MBA pro­grams tend to be about man­age­ment pro­fi­ciency in func­tional ar­eas and spe­cial­i­sa­tions, but UTS em­pha­sises bound­ary-cross­ing skills such as lead­er­ship, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, prob­lem solv­ing and crit­i­cal think­ing.”

Green says this em­pha­sis will be de­vel­oped into de­sign and in­te­gra­tive think­ing. “We are mak­ing use of a ‘liv­ing lab’, the u.lab, which is partly mod­elled on such ini­tia­tives as the in Stan­ford, De­signWorks at the Univer­sity of Toronto’s Rot­man School of Man­age­ment and De­sign Fac­tory at Aalto Univer­sity in Fin­land,” he says, ref­er­enc­ing de­sign schools that foster in­no­va­tion.

“This is also ex­em­pli­fied by our new In­te­gra­tive Busi­ness Con­sult­ing pro­ject, which was in­tro­duced last year in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Fox School of Busi­ness in Philadel­phia. This en­ables stu­dent teams to un­der­take real con­sult­ing ex­er­cises with se­lected com­pa­nies un­der the su­per­vi­sion of in­dus­try men­tors.”

There is a broad recog­ni­tion in theMBA sec­tor that so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is a crit­i­cal part of lead­er­ship prepa­ra­tion in a glob­alised busi­ness world. With the rep­u­ta­tional dam­age



of tragedies such as the re­cent fac­tory col­lapse in Bangladesh still fresh, and the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis be­ing sheeted home to MBA grad­u­ates trig­ger­ing the sub-prime cri­sis, the trend to­wards eth­i­cal lead­er­ship and busi­ness train­ing in Aus­tralian busi­ness schools is em­pha­sis­ing the con­cept of “shared value”.

MBAs are still pass­ports to high salaries and fast-tracked ca­reers, but the em­pha­sis is shift­ing to dif­fer­ent skills – adap­tive think­ing, in­no­va­tion, en­trepreneur­ship, cul­tural un­der­stand­ing and eth­i­cal be­hav­iour.

UTS Busi­ness School dean Roy Green (top); Aus­tralian School of Busi­ness chief Ge­of­frey Gar­rett (above left); and the Univer­sity of Queens­land’s An­drew Grif­fiths.

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