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hat should we be teaching business people in the 21st century? Joelle du Lac, Cambridge Judge Business School’s Director of External Affairs, believes the future has to be about managing greater complexity – whether that complexity comes in the form of access to huge amounts of information, a banking catastrophe or an intricate legal framework. “There has to be a question about the abilities of business schools to face up to the more complex concepts and systems that people in business have to deal with,” she says. “At the same time, business schools are really just incubators for cultivating business talent – it’s not so much what is taught but the learning environment they can provide. Clearly, a multidisciplinary, diverse approach is critical to both these issues.” Nowhere is the inter-disciplinary approach more apparent than in the Cambridge MBA. Students customise their degree with a wide choice of electives, bringing them into contact with a cross-section of Cambridge talent and local and global companies. Colin Lizeri, Grosvenor Professor of Real Estate Finance, explains: “This year, I contributed a case study looking at the dynamics of the City of London office market to the Real Estate Finance elective.” With the ethics of the corporate world under heightened scrutiny, the Philosophy in Business elective has flourished, and is taught by Hallvard Lillehammer and Alex Oliver of the Philosophy Faculty. “I don’t think there could have been a better time for us to start this course,” says Dr Lillehammer. “We cover a range of areas that connect work to traditional philosophy: issues that come up in the business world, which we hope that students will have thought about in their own lives before they started the MBA.” The elective tackles corporate social responsibility and ethics, trust, truthfulness

AN EDUCATION INCOMPLEXITY At Cambridge Judge Business School, scientists and engineers, philosophers and politicians are helping to shape business education. Words William Ham Bevan Photographs Charlie Troman

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Above Joelle du Lac Right Dr Hallvard Lillehammer Far right Professor Colin Lizeri

© Neil Grant, Alamy

and the generation of demand. All are taught using a ‘bottom-up’ approach, beginning with a practical problem pertinent to business, and identifying the philosophical tools that may be used to address it. Dr Lillehammer says: “On truth, for example, we might identify a number of conceptions of truthfulness: what their implications are, and how they would apply in certain business scenarios. The students often bring us wonderful anecdotes from their own experience.” The Services Innovation course, run jointly by faculty from Cambridge and executives from IBM, offers an even more hands-on experience, as vice-president Kevin Bishop (Emmanuel 1981) explains. “As part of the course, we put together a kind of ‘Dragons’ Den’ initiative, where we invite the students to present their ideas for improvements to a service that doesn’t work for them. I understand that with one of the ideas that came out of the course, the students are following it up and setting up a company to take it into practice.” This interdisciplinary ethos is a guiding principle for the school – and, according to du Lac, essential if the School is to compete on the international stage. “The real competition for us is coming from new schools in the East and big, established schools in the West. We rank ourselves among the leading business schools in the world, but it’s very, very tough,” she says. “One of the issues we have is scale – we’re not as large as most of our competitors. And now three of the top business schools in China are starting to aggressively recruit in the US.” Collaboration does not take place just in formal tuition and research: connections can be made via more informal channels. Among the current students on the Executive MBA programme is Michael Salama, Senior Tax Counsel and Vice President, Tax

Could education have a role in preventing the next major financial crisis? At Cambridge Judge Business School, bankers with around four years’ experience compete for places on the Cambridge Master of Finance, a one-year degree programme. The course combines core financial theory with courses such as fixed income analysis, derivatives, mergers and acquisitions, and hedge funds. Students also examine the role of regulation and the broader role of finance outside the City. But perhaps most importantly, the City Speakers seminar series enables students to examine issues as they happen, and in the company of industry insiders. However, for students following the Management Studies Tripos, the introduction to the realities of the business world begins before they finish their undergraduate studies. Open to third and fourth year undergraduates, as well as providing a solid grounding in the fundamentals of management, the course enables students to develop an understanding of the responsibilities of managers in economic, social, and environmental contexts.

Administration, at the Walt Disney Company. “The interdisciplinary benefits I’ve enjoyed while studying at Cambridge arise naturally from the structure of the EMBA programme,” he says. He cites a management science assignment, which his group were asked to tailor to their own industry experiences. “That assignment gave me the opportunity to model a prime-time television network’s show selection as a portfolio. I examined various show line-up combinations, looking at the implications for risk and management. The same weekend Lord Eatwell hosted a dinner for us at Queens’. An impromptu conversation about regional content and trends in funding for foreign film projects tied a lot of the study together and provided practical and local insight.”


he School’s Executive Education programme – short courses for senior managers – draws on the experience of the University’s most prominent figures. On recent programmes, Sir Richard Dearlove, ex-chief of MI6 and Master of Pembroke, has spoken about geopolitics and business; former Cabinet Secretary Lord Wilson of Dinton, Master of Emmanuel, lectured on ‘Coping with the unforeseen: strategies for recovery’. Building upon this, the new Advanced Leadership Programme accepts its first intake this term. The concentrated three-week programme, aimed at board-level senior managers, has enlisted the help of local enterprises, the University boat crew and the Britten Sinfonia. “Nevertheless, these programmes are very focused,” says Joelle du Lac. “We took the angle very early on that these were not luxury executive holidays: we wanted them to be relevant and rigorous.” With competition from institutions in India and East Asia set to intensify over coming years, Joelle du Lac believes that the School’s integration with a world-class research university will increasingly be seen as a factor to differentiate it from its rivals. She says: “A lot of business schools are very separate from their universities and in the past it was even seen as an advantage to be a stand-alone institution. But Cambridge academic excellence, across a range of disciplines, and applied to real business problems, is a very powerful proposition. “I don’t know of any other major university engaged quite so intimately with its business school, to the extent that Cambridge is. It is the way of the future.”

To find out more about the work of Cambridge Judge Business School visit CAM 61 37

An Education in Complexity  

An excerpt from CAM (Cambridge Alumni Magazine) 61 (pages 36-37). What should we be teaching business people for the 21st Century? At Cambri...

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