Universities and Business Schools are collective and realistic in their opinion that to succeed in the business world, more than an MBA is required
As competition in the business world becomes increasingly fierce, the need for students to separate themselves from their peers becomes accentuated. However, with the great number of applicants to higher education institutes, standing out from the crowd is tougher today than ever before.
Whether an organisation is looking to fill a graduate vacancy or a leading multi-national has a space on the board, a quality education will always stand candidates in good stead. So what exactly do employers look for in a quality education?
Undoubtedly, an MBA will provide a businessperson with an edge. Learning the theory and underpinnings of business practice is crucial to understanding the business world. Zainab Nawaz from the Lahore University of Management Science explains that,"when faced with a business situation [MBA students] will be able to assess the implications that various decisions might have and be in a better position to make an informed choice." Furthermore, "a quality MBA programme grooms its candidates for real world situations and problem solving methods by studying and analyzing strategies."
A notion confirmed by the St. Gallen MBA, Switzerland; "the benefit of an MBA will be that on average the MBA graduate should have been performing better than the employee without the MBA." Mr Matthews (from the St. Gallen MBA) argues that the practical effectiveness of an MBA depends "on how well the business school has done its job both in choosing the best talent for its programme and in producing the best results for that student", but can a quality education alone teach a businessperson enough to succeed?
Universities and Business Schools are collective and realistic in their opinion that to succeed in the business world, more than an MBA is required. Work experience is essential and as fundamental as classroom hours may be, they cannot compensate for time spent in the office.
The International University of Japan, however, do not believe the two must be mutually exclusive. "We have adopted a curriculum which focuses on integrating real-world challenges into our classroom" Dr Philip Sugai explains. "This combination of company-sponsored projects in our classes with actual 'real-world' experience creates a very powerful environment to obtain and test the skills that will be most relevant to our students after their graduation."
Yet work experience cannot be viewed as solely for the purpose of providing a quality education. McGill MBA Japan warn of the problems that could arise from a lack of experience when taking on a position of leadership. "A person with an MBA and no experience dealing with a wide range of people with a wide range motivations could cause all kinds of trouble for the organization." Unsurprisingly, the school insist that their students "must have already distinguished themselves somehow in a work environment before [the school] will consider them."
Other universities share a similar recognition for the significance of real-world experience. The DCT Hotel Management School also value it to the extent that their "MBA programme requires that a student has work experience either before attending, or immediately upon completing studies on campus." Complimenting this requirement, "all students in the programme have the option to gain relevant paid work experience in Switzerland as a part of their programme" , an opportunity which the School believes to be particularly valuable to its foreign students.
The problems for students and businesspeople arise in the fact that the majority of their peers, their competition, have also obtained valuable work experience to complement their MBA. So what else can separate them?
A global education is gaining recognition as a crucial, perhaps essential tool in the modern businessperson's arsenal. A global education, Br. Armin Luistro FSC - President and Chancellor of De La Salle University - explains, has so many benefits. "It advances students willingness and ability to incorporate new ideas from different societies and to develop new ways of thinking. With curricula strongly engaged with international perspectives, students are equipped to understand issues from multiple viewpoints, engineering solutions that have a wider application given the nature of the highly interconnected world we live in today."
Indeed, a global education is thought to develop skills and practices previously not enhanced by education, therefore moulding a better rounded individual. "It develops the students critical thinking, giving them a wider perspective and understanding. They learn to develop strategies for different situations, and they are also able to think of ways of marketing their ideas to the world" Br. Luistro continues, confirming that a global education can aid a student's integration into the business or working world.
"Yet work experience cannot be viewed as solely for the purpose of providing a quality education"
A global education will teach students to view world issues from a different, more critical perspective than they otherwise would. An education outside of the First World can be particularly beneficial to students over those studying in the - educationally - more recognised developed countries. De La Salle University are eager to impress that such a global education allows students a "unique insight into similar problems and issues confronting other developing nations that in reality, comprise more than half of the world."
The understanding of these important issues becomes all the more credible when a student can experience them first-hand. "Foreign students who choose to study [at De La Salle University] earn this unique in situ perspective, giving them a competitive edge not found in First World Universities."
However, it is not only foreign students that benefit from the multi-cultural learning environment established by a global education philosophy. Local students too are aided by the international and cultural experience an overseas student can bring to an institution; a benefactor that Universities can employ to their students advantage. IUJ, for example, places heavy emphasis on integration and, particularly, team-based learning which "provides all of [their] students with a truly global perspective throughout their education, forging the type of graduates that [IUJ] believes will become the true leaders of the next generation of business."
Combining these global education values with top-level teaching is undeniably a recipe for success. Ranked as one of Asia Top 3 MBAs, the NUS Business School would certainly suggest so. "Typically 25 to 30 nationalities are represented in our MBA cohort [..] The wide diversity of students, together with top-rate teaching faculty from leading Universities, enable our MBA students to benefit from the opportunity to understand and appreciate the rich tapestry and practices from fellow students and faculty."
It is therefore important that a global education involves not only diversity in the student body but also in the teaching staff. This encourages a broader curriculum and students will benefit from the international experience of the faculty. This approach allows the world best management knowledge [to be] combined with Asia unique and diverse context" at the NUS Business School.
The benefits of an international professor base are also recognised by McGill MBA Japan. "We use our own curriculum, taught by our own professors who fly in from the home campus in Montreal to offer weekend classes."
"It is important that a global education involves not only diversity in the student body but also in the teaching staff"
So the advantages of a global education are clear. Greater cultural experience will lead to better informed decisions, improved global awareness will lead to more astute business judgements and an international perspective will lead students to an enhanced understanding of multiple viewpoints. Perhaps though, a global education can no longer be considered so exclusive. Perhaps it has become crucial to the extent that it should be taken as read that a prospective successful businessperson holds such a global perception.
Certainly any specialities offered by a University or Business School over and above the global education will aid such businesspeople to stand apart from the rest. The University of St. Gallen, for example, assert that keeping class sizes low - 30-50 students - allows the programme to "dedicate the time and resources to each individual" . Indeed, keeping the course numbers low itself can be a difficult process but Mr. Matthews explains that as the "application base increases, the quality of the class improves". A bigger pool of applicants allows the filtration of the best candidates and thus, those who eventually obtain the MBA are highlighting to potential employers, a determination and dedication to succeed.
Alternatively, Universities can offer specialised courses for students wishing to study refined subject areas.Institutions such as the DCT Hotel Management School are based on this principle whereas NUS also offer a number of specializations within their MBA programme. "Real Estate, Healthcare Management, Finance, Marketing and Strategy and Organisation" are all catered for. The NUS Business School are keen to promote the advantages of such a scheme. With the specialization, our students will have an edge over those with a general MBA degree".
NUS also utilise their strong industry relationships with local and international organisations to aid their MBA students. The business connections are considered "crucial and essential for a business school and MBA programme to stay current and up-to-date". An opinion echoed by IUJ and the businesses that their programmes feed into. Ms. Erina Tashiro, a recruitment specialist at Capital Servicing Co. Ltd. views the close bond between University and company as highly beneficial to both parties. "In many cases, we look forward to offering [IUJ] interns full time staffing positions upon their graduation. We can then benefit from their IUJ education, internship experience with us, and get a valued employee".
Evidently, to stand out from the swelling crowd today, a businessperson must possess a number of attributes and qualifications that result from a quality and well-rounded education. However, to complement the highlighted necessities of a global education and relevant work experience, individuals must also demonstrate a passion, drive and determination for success. Only with this will a businessperson fulfil their highest potential.