Deeper con­nec­tions

Busi­ness schools form a vi­tal link be­tween the in­dus­try lead­ers of today and those of the fu­ture. Their chal­lenge is to de­liver pro­grammes that meet the needs of both groups.

Idealog - - BUSINESS -

THERE’S NO SIN­GLE recipe for busi­ness suc­cess; but con­nect­ing with clients, sup­pli­ers and in­dus­try part­ners to col­lab­o­rate and build re­la­tion­ships is cer­tainly a valu­able in­gre­di­ent. And it’s an ap­proach that busi­ness schools are in­creas­ingly tak­ing, as the ed­u­ca­tors of our fu­ture busi­ness own­ers and lead­ers.

Pro­fes­sor Ge­off Perry, Dean of the AUT Busi­ness School, says busi­ness schools every­where are look­ing at ways to en­hance their rel­e­vance and strengthen their im­pact on both aca­demic and non-aca­demic stake­hold­ers (ie busi­ness and in­dus­try).

“There’s a gen­eral trend across the world to en­sure those con­nec­tions are strong, so that we’re aware of what’s go­ing on, we have an im­pact, and what we’re do­ing is rel­e­vant and use­ful,” he says.

To achieve this goal, the Busi­ness School fos­ters its own con­nec­tions with in­dus­try, and also de­vel­ops pro­grammes and projects that give stu­dents real-world knowl­edge and op­por­tu­ni­ties for hands- on learn­ing. The con­tent for its cour­ses is partly in­formed by the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tees the Busi­ness School reg­u­larly meets with, and its on­go­ing con­sul­ta­tion with in­dus­try.

In the past year alone, the Busi­ness School has run 55 en­gage­ment ac­tiv­i­ties in­volv­ing in­dus­try and staff or se­nior stu­dents.

“We’re look­ing more at co- cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties such as events that give stu­dents op­por­tu­ni­ties to col­lab­o­rate and con­nect with each other, and with in­dus­try out­side of the class­room,” says Perry.

“An im­por­tant as­pect of ed­u­cat­ing stu­dents is con­nect­ing them to ex­ter­nal stake­hold­ers. They don’t come for three years and sim­ply do a the­o­ret­i­cal course – they get grounded in the real is­sues busi­nesses are fac­ing. It’s about real con­nec­tions with real busi­nesses.”

Among the School’s ini­tia­tives, Shadow a Leader pairs a fi­nal-year busi­ness or law stu­dent with a fi­nal-year sec­ondary stu­dent. To­gether they spend the day fol­low­ing a busi­ness leader. “It’s a chance for the leader to in­spire and give some­thing back to po­ten­tial fu­ture lead­ers,” ex­plains Perry. “It gives the stu­dents a con­nec­tion with a leader in the com­mu­nity and an un­der­stand­ing of what they do. It works re­ally well. This year we had 75 lead­ers in­volved – many had come back want­ing to do it again.”

Fuji Xerox In­spire, another pop­u­lar an­nual event, sees 400 school stu­dent lead­ers spend a day at AUT at­tend­ing ses­sions with in­spi­ra­tional achiev­ers and lead­ers in in­dus­try and the com­mu­nity.

As al­ready hap­pens at over­seas busi­ness schools, AUT is also fo­cus­ing on bring­ing to­gether stu­dents across dis­ci­plines, such as de­sign, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, en­gi­neer­ing and busi­ness, to col­lab­o­rate on real projects and ap­ply their knowl­edge to a range of real-life sce­nar­ios.

Nat­u­rally, busi­ness grad­u­ates are much more em­ploy­able if they have an abil­ity to ap­ply and un­der­stand what’s go­ing on in the world and par­tic­u­larly in the New Zealand con­text, says Perry.

“Link­ing busi­ness with other ar­eas ex­poses stu­dents to dif­fer­ent par­a­digms and ways of think­ing and that’s re­ally pow­er­ful.

“For busi­ness schools, adapt­ing our cur­ricu­lum and how we de­liver learn­ing isn’t just about what will at­tract stu­dents in a tight do­mes­tic mar­ket.

“It’s about recog­nis­ing that deep and en­gaged learn­ing hap­pens more ef­fec­tively if stu­dents are ex­cited and in­volved in what they’re learn­ing. By bring­ing in real is­sues that they un­der­stand, we en­hance their learn­ing.”

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