REAL- WORLD FOCUS STRESSED
SARAH Kelly, program director of the MBA course at University of Queensland Business School, doesn’t hold back in discussing UQ’s reputation. Ranked as the top business school in Australia and Asia-Pacific by The
Economist, UQ is a leader in the competition for MBA students. “We’re even prouder to be ranked in the Top 30 MBA courses globally”, she says.
Kelly exemplifies a passion for teaching that’s a long way from dry academia, perhaps a reflection of the University’s close link with the Wharton School in the US. It's more than just a nominal tie-up between the two institutions. Kelly says: “Every year, five of our MBA students join five from Wharton to tackle a real-world consulting project known as the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum. They develop a US market entry or expansion strategy for an Australasian company or not-for-profit organisation … past examples include Lorna Jane, One Steel and the West Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators’ Council. It is an amazing opportunity for our students to collaborate with a world-class peer group and present their recommendations at a week-long practicum in Philadelphia.”
She is equally enthusiastic about another program that exposes students to a different kind of situation. In the Social Economic Engagement Program, students volunteer to apply their learning to help community organisations. They receive no credits but are encouraged to sign up and gain real-life experience. For example, the Endeavour Foundation benefited from a business plan for its recycling business that employs and supports disabled people. OzHarvest, Second Chance and Synapse have also received similar assistance; another ongoing project is the annual Yalari Horizons Leadership camp designed to inspire and motivate indigenous high school students.
Offshore, East Timorese coffee growers were advised how to develop a marketing and operations plan; another example was an immersion trip to India with Opportunity International to raise funds for its micro-finance program helping women living in Delhi’s slums.
The program is face-to-face, with full-time and part-time options but no online course. This may be regarded as old fashioned but UQ has stuck fast to this principle in the belief that it’s more effective owing to deeper interaction between faculty and students ... and between students themselves.
UQBS engages with business and industry at every stage; industry leaders and entrepreneurs are inducted as lecturers and provide case histories for a wide range of businesses, as well as giving students valuable contacts.
Who are typical MBA students at UQBS? Kelly quotes an average age of 34, with one third sponsored by their employers and studying part time in a two-year program. The total cohort is 450 and is not capped. The 2014 intake was 160 double that of 2013. Applicants should have at least five years’ business experience although alternative entry paths are available. Fees amount to about $48,000.
Just before graduation, students undertake a week-long residential course that tests their knowledge, analytical ability, leadership and presentation skills in a live case study … for example, this year it was for Domino’s Pizza. Teams compete to make strategic business recommendations to a high level panel.