Articles from The Globe and Mail

It’s time to reinvent the MBA

Are MBA programs still viable? Are their graduates still valued by employers? Despite these questions, demand for MBA programs is growing: 84 per cent of companies worldwide plan to add new MBAs to their work force in 2015 – up from 74 per cent in 2014 and 62 per cent five years ago, according to a global survey of employers published by the U.S.-based Graduate Management Admission Council. The MBA is hardly dying, and certainly far from dead. But it needs an overhaul. When MBA programs originated in the United States in the early 20th century, the country had industrialized and companies wanted more scientific approaches to management. Today, most MBA programs – about 10,000 and growing – still use pedagogical approaches designed to legitimize management as a science, lecturing in classrooms and teaching cases on topics derived from disciplinary silos. This is true of even the most established and prestigious MBA programs. The boom of new programs around the world, and increasing competition for the brightest students, ought to spur innovation in curricula. The complex challenges confronting contemporary society, such as addressing climate change, reducing inequality and ensuring the sustainability of health systems, demand it. As leaders of organizations who today employ MBAs around the world, and MBA graduates ourselves, we have insights into what this innovation should look like to ensure MBA programs fulfill their responsibility to prepare leaders able to meet these challenges and have positive impacts on their organizations, communities and society more broadly. At a recent conference celebrating 50 years of the MBA at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal, we listened to and learned from more than 200 successful MBA alumni, professors and students from around the world in order to...

Why the interview is the most important part of an MBA application...

Sitting across from one or two people knowing your future is on the line can be a nerve-racking experience. For those interested in earning an MBA at nearly all the business schools across Canada, an interview is a vital part of the selection process. “It terrifies people. The tone of the interview makes them feel pressure,” explains Shai Dubey, director of the MBA program at Queen’s University in Kingston. But it’s not meant to be that way. It’s supposed to be a part of the grander selection process to determine whether a prospect makes a good candidate for an MBA program. “It’s not an interview, really,” Prof. Dubey says. “It’s a conversation. If it is a conversation, then we’ve done a good job.” For many schools, the interview completes a prospect’s application – along with his or her transcript, graduate management admission test (GMAT) scores and usually a personal essay or résumé, and Prof. Dubey says it’s a crucial process. “When you think about getting a résumé from someone, it’s a high-level sketch that they want to tell you. Résumés are usually polished, while an interview is raw,” he says. “There’s no voice for them [résumés] – it’s black ink on white paper. We still don’t know the personality of that person. So the interview answers questions that you can’t find out about by looking at numbers.” The MBA interview isn’t meant to trick anyone, contrary to popular belief. A story from Business Insider reports that people who interviewed with Google were once asked, “Why are manhole covers round?” MBA hopefuls might think these are the kind of questions they’ll be greeted with, but it isn’t true. “There are a lot of behavioural questions that are asked – ‘Talk...

Building a network just as valuable as the MBA degree itself...

If I had to choose one takeaway to share as I make the transition from my MBA into the corporate world, it would be that relationships matter. Period. Looking back on my journey submerged in textbooks, case competitions, formulas and all-nighters puts a smile on my face. I acquired a top-calibre education, instilled the proper work habits, refined my teamwork aptitude and, most importantly, expanded my network in all the right ways. Mission accomplished, right? Absolutely. To me, my network is everything. But let’s rewind and unravel this topic further. It’s fascinating how what’s important changes based on immediacy and circumstances – and both graduate school and life thereafter can certainly attest to this. Let me give you an example. As a sales and marketing professional now, my to-do list is far from building pro formas, balancing income statements or calculating the EBITA of a potential investment. But a few months ago this stuff was important and consumed me. It’s incredible how fast-paced and volatile life and business are these days. Having a quality, diverse and expanded network with meaningful relationships can act as your foundation no matter the flavour of the week. A constant and stabilizer, if you will. The old saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is fundamentally changing the way we conduct business. I make sure to invest, cultivate and nurture my network every chance I get by keeping up-to-date. There’s really no point in having a network if you only reach out to it when you need something. Relationships take work and attention, and your circle of colleagues and acquaintances is no exception. I jumped into an MBA to gain business acumen and came out with the network, tool set and...

Two-year MBAs still the gold standard

Full-time, two-year MBA programs worldwide edged out their one-year counterparts in terms of growth, according to new application trends for 2014 analyzed by the Graduate Management Admission Council. For the second year in a row, 65 per cent of two-year MBA programs reported increased or stable application volumes compared to flat or declining demand for one-year and specialized graduate offerings. Among one-year programs, 60 per cent reported a decrease in application volumes from last year, according to the council that administers the widely-used entrance exam for graduate business programs. For some students, a two-year MBA has an advantage over shorter-duration programs despite a higher price, says Michelle Sparkman Renz, director of research communication for GMAC. “It might offer additional time with classmates for networking, internships, activities for case competitions or even exchange or study abroad.” According to the survey, students in a majority of programs still expect employer reimbursement of degrees. Based on a record response from 748 programs at 314 universities, the survey highlights the diversification of offerings globally and the growing presence of foreign candidates. International students accounted for 52 per cent of applicants to 135 full-time, two-year MBA programs worldwide in 2014, up from 48 per cent to 115 programs 2009. In 2009, foreign students accounted for 60 per cent of 25 master of finance programs offered in 2009. But by 2014, among 38 programs reporting to GMAC, they represented 82 per cent of applicants worldwide. “It speaks to the internationalization and the international curriculum that an MBA or specialized business master can grant someone,” Ms. Sparkman Renz says. One Canada-specific finding is its 10th spot placement among top destinations for recruiters, according to the survey. China, India and the United States top the list, but...