CEO Magazine - Volume 32

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I am


Connected Innovative Entrepreneurial

Joseba Díez Nogues MBA with a major in Entrepreneurship

Business Education for a New Generation Join our English-taught master’s and MBA programs and become a game changer.

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8 10



GMBA STUDENT PERSPECTIVES Anton Brown, Hana Vo, and Tracy MacDonald




16 / Winter 2020





27 2

SPREADING THEIR WINGS Femi Agbato, Mary Hames, and Keith Schroeder


33 / Winter 2020

ONLINE MBA BUILT BY Transform your career with the industry’s premier online MBA. Macquarie Business School’s Global MBA is a first-of-its-kind online MBA. The degree is modelled on a stackable concept, giving you the choice to determine what, how much, when and where you learn. Designed to meet the changing needs of the labour market, the Global MBA is built around six future-focused capabilities: leading, strategising, analysing, influencing, adapting and problem solving. The degree offers affordable pricing, meaning transformational learning is now highly accessible to those who wish to grow and seek new opportunities. / Spring/Summer 2019 / Winter 2020

MQBS80892 CRICOS Provider 00002J 3






HOW NOT TO DEFINE PURPOSE Thomas D. Malnight and Ivy Buche



46 / Winter 2020

Executive MBA #1 EMBA in Georgia CEO Magazine, 2019 | #7 EMBA in the World CEO Magazine, 2019

Become the LEADER You’re MEANT TO BE At Kennesaw State, we believe in fueling aspirations and delivering pathways to enable our students to achieve their goals. Our Executive MBA faculty will guide you and deliver an immersive experience unmatched in Georgia.




As a member of a program-

You’ll receive one-on-

Experience on-site, global

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one coaching from career

projects where you’ll learn

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you’ll learn, share, and grow

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business leaders in a global

with other leaders like you.

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environment. / Winter 2020













56 / Winter 2020

CEO Victor J. Callender Group Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Skinner Design & Illustration Financial Controller Anthony Gordon

Head Office: 4 Old Park Lane London W1K 1QW Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3744 2422 Fax: +44 (0) 20 3744 2423 Email: Web:

Head of Production Steven Whitaker Features Writer Amber Callender



Published by CEO Magazine. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the expressed approval of the copyright owner. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, the Publisher accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions. The Publisher disclaims responsibility for the views and opinions expressed herein by the contributors. Furthermore, the Publisher does not give any warranty regarding the accuracy thereof. For further information on annual subscription rates visit: / Winter 2020



“We want to remove the traditional barriers to entry and make attaining a leading MBA from a premium business school like Macquarie Business School more accessible and inclusive than ever.”


Q. What prompted Macquarie Business School to roll out an online Global MBA? I think the keyword here is ‘accessibility’. We wanted to create a world-class MBA that would remove the traditional barriers of price and geography. It was also an opportunity for us to tear up the rule book and do something radically different. Q. In what is already a highly crowded market, how does the Global MBA stand out from other online, and on-campus, programmes? In reimagining the MBA for the 2020 s, the curriculum was co-created with industry and predicated on the transformation taking place in both the labour market, and the way in which companies operate. Consequently, the programme has been structured around six key capabilities: Leading, Strategising, Analysing, Adapting, Influencing, and Problem Solving. These areas tap into and cultivate soft skills, like emotional

intelligence and critical thinking, which are not only highly transferable but very much in demand. Q. You elected to partner with Coursera, an online learning platform. Why Coursera? In addition to having an excellent track record, Coursera believes, as do we, in the democratisation of education. We want to help as many people as we can achieve their learning goals, whether that’s taking a short open course or enrolling in our Global MBA. Coursera is one of the leading global online education platforms with over 200 partnerships with first-class universities such as Caltech, Columbia University, Imperial College London, National University of Singapore, Stanford, INSEAD, and Yale – which places us in good company. The concept of lifelong learning is very much at the heart of our thinking, so it must be / Winter 2020

learner-driven. I refer to it as the EdFlix model of learning, or on-demand education, where learners choose what they want to learn, how much they want to learn, and when they want to learn.

criteria, such as academic credentials and work experience for direct admission, we also recognise that many professionals may not meet one of these criteria and offer an alterantive pathway into the degree. We call this the Performance Track, where candidates must achieve a certain academic average grade across eight units before being admitted into the degree.

Q. In concentrating on ‘future-focused capabilities’, how much emphasis is placed upon core business administration skills, e.g., accounting, finance, operations, etc.? Q. Given that your Global MBA is an online Whilst fundamentals like finance and programme, how do you address the issue of marketing are still important and very much networking? a part of our online Global MBA, we have I’m a great believer in connection and shifted the focus away from traditional siloed community, which is why we place such functional areas of organisations towards a strong focus on collaboration. We use graduate outcomes reflecting future-focussed tools such as Zoom and Slack and create a capabilities. communication infrastructure The ability to adapt, strategise, that optimises team learning, lead, influence… these are skills resource sharing, networking, and that will take our students far community-building opportunities. beyond graduation. These are the We use both synchronous and capabilities that map to the hiring “Our focus on asynchronous techniques to ensure expectations of a competitive and the best learning experience for our tech-driven labour market. Our co-creating students. The weekly live webinars students can apply their learning in facilitated by faculty, discussion the workplace – the realisation in the curriculum forums, and Slack student channels terms of performance impact is very with industry is all create a community that really real and immediate. Ultimately, we does augment the touchpoints want to create lasting value and, by evident in our available for students to create their doing so, maximise our students’ partnerships own networking opportunities. We return on education. see students driving connections – with leading for example, many of our students Q. Can you tell me more about the travel for work and reach out to stackable approach you’ve adopted organisations other GMBA students to meet up and the ability for students to ‘earn such as SAS, across different countries. It’s a as they learn’ via the accrual of wonderful reflection of the truly certificates? Cochlear, and global nature of the programme and Stackability means you can elect Deloitte.” networking in action. to do a free course (try before you buy), single course (for credit), or Q. To what extent is the programme enrol in the entire MBA. It’s about informed by industry? putting the power of choice in the Given that the half-life of hands of the student so that they can professional skills currently tailor the programme to their needs; sits at around five years, we listen to what they can do as much or as little as they want. industry has to say. We consider industry as Sometimes a short open course or single our end buyers – our students consume the (for credit) course is enough. It may be that learning, whereas industry ‘buy’ (hire) our someone just needs to strengthen their students. This is why our industry advisory knowledge in a particular area, and this is board is so essential, and one of the reasons where the stackable model really embraces why we placed such significant emphasis the concept of lifelong learning. on diversity: ages, industries, experience, expertise, and cultural backgrounds. Our Q. Tier-one schools, in the main, tend not to board, like our students, reflect the rich consider applicants from a non-traditional diversity of skills, experience, sector, and academic background, but Macquarie is industry that is essential in producing bucking that trend. Why is this? innovation. It was important to reflect the We want to remove the traditional barriers world around us and, crucially, the world to entry and make attaining a leading in which our graduates will be making MBA from a premium business school like their mark. Our focus on co-creating the Macquarie Business School more accessible curriculum with industry is evident in our and inclusive than ever. This means using a partnerships with leading organisations such different lens when it comes to admissions. as SAS, Cochlear, and Deloitte. Whilst we still pay attention to the usual / Winter 2020

“We want to help as many people as we can achieve their learning goals, whether that’s taking a short open course or enrolling in our Global MBA.”


Associate Professor Lan Snell is the Academic Programme Director for the Global MBA at Macquarie Business School. 9

GMBA STUDENT PERSPECTIVES catch-ups. You can do a couple of hours on one day or 20 minutes on another, it’s completely flexible and on-demand, but with the right amount of live and interactive sessions to keep you engaged. Importantly, you can do as little as one subject or as many as four in each six-week block, giving you the ability to finish quickly or at your own pace depending on your circumstances. Lastly, the ability to study at home and while on the road gives you the opportunity to swap out your online entertainment for learning. T.M.: The ability to choose how many courses you take and which ones is very appealing, and helpful. The flexibility of a fully online programme allows me to plan my study hours around my schedule, which is very important since I have a full-time job and three children.

Q. Given the plethora of online MBA programmes currently available, what drew you to Macquarie Business School and, in particular, the Global MBA? Anton Brown (A.B.): I’ve been looking to do an MBA for some time, so I have been exposed to the various providers as well as friends, colleagues, and job applicants that have already completed MBAs. Credibility, flexibility, and price were the three main criteria I was guided by when I chose the Macquarie Global MBA. The fresh approach, relevant content, and global exposure were additional positives for me. Hana Vo (H.V.): I came to know the Global MBA programme before Macquarie Business School itself. As a corporate trainer, I was impressed by how practical and innovative the programme offering was. The course developer clearly understood industry’s need for qualified talents with future-focused skills, as well as the expectations of learners around flexibility, autonomy, and mastery. Tracy MacDonald (T.M.): I had already completed two online specialisations through Coursera, so when the advertisements for the Global MBA popped up, I started looking at them. I was already comfortable with the Coursera platform, and the programme was enticing as it focused on building for the future of work. Q. What does the programme offer, in terms of flexibility? A.B.: With six-week blocks per subject, you can manage your life around the assignments, live online events, and team 10

Q. Can you expand upon the make-up (industries, geography, etc.) and calibre of your fellow MBA participants and what they bring to the programme and your learning experience? A.B.: I’ve teamed up with people in Canada, South Africa, and Australia. We often have people from the USA, UK, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Dubai on the live events. The people I’ve chatted to so far seem to be in middle- to senior-management roles, and from industries like education, consulting, finance, medicine, banking, and aviation; we also have entrepreneurs. Q. In regards to the faculty and your classmates, how connected do you feel? A.B.: The weekly live online events feel like an authentic connection where you get to engage with classmates and the lecturer. Via the discussion forums in Coursera, Zoom’s video conferencing, Slack’s instant messaging facility, and normal e-mail channels, you’re connected in whatever way you feel most comfortable. I’ve also used local meet-ups to catch up with faculty and classmates. H.V.: While it’s rare for us to have a live session with full attendance, due to timezone differences, the forum exchanges and group projects provide an excellent opportunity for us to get to know each other. I have become quite well versed in timezones and the work habits of my international classmates. T.M.: Generally, I feel very connected. Slack helps tremendously, as do the live video calls each week. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to make some of them based on timing, but when I’m able to participate the rapport we’ve developed really makes it feel like a community of learners. / Winter 2020

Q. In terms of the admissions process, what advice would you give to potential applicants? H.V.: I think that the admissions process at Macquarie is quite simple and almost paperless. It is more important for potential applicants to seriously consider the selflearning portion of the programme, or any higher-study programme for that matter, and set up appropriate support systems to enable them to follow-through on the GMBA journey. T.M.: The admissions process is quite simple; the online steps are well explained and easy to follow, especially for those of us who last applied to university with a typewriter! Q. What do you consider to be the highlight of the programme thus far? A.B.: I’ve loved all the subjects; they are all relevant and useable in my everyday work. I’ve probably enjoyed the self-reflection components and resulting personal growth the most. H.V.: Each term is only six weeks long, hence things can fly by before you notice it. After completing four terms and 16 subjects, I would say the highlight was resolving some professional challenges in which I had been stuck in for quite some time. The entire curriculum is designed to help learners acquire practical and futureoriented skills, such as managing the board, creating meaning for others, and so on. The knowledge, skills, and perspectives I’ve acquired have changed how I view work, and that is quite provoking for a human resources professional like me who is ambitious in shaping the future of work. T.M.: The focus on contemporary business stories, challenges, and processes. I’ve learned about financial modelling in a contemporary setting, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, as well as reflecting on my career and how it fits with my personality so I can build my future career. Q. What is the hardest thing about the programme? A.B.: It’s about getting into the learning mindset and opening yourself up to a new way of thinking. Once you embrace the process it becomes enjoyable. T.M.: For me, there were two things: learning how to write academic papers after 30 years, and Excel formulas on the finance courses. I don’t use Excel in this way, so it was a case of learning two things: how to use/ create formulas and grappling with the course content. That being said, I love what I’ve learnt and have already been able to apply it to my daily workflow. / Winter 2020

Q. What has been the most challenging thing about returning to education, and what mechanisms (support from family, time management, etc.) have you put in place in order to manage the increased workload? A.B.: My family is incredibly supportive, and the flexibility of the programme has allowed me to balance my time between studies, family, work, and my hobbies. Getting a process in place and blocking off time to study has allowed me to achieve this. H.V.: I would encourage potential applicants to inform their employer of their intentions and possible commitment, and to discuss mechanisms to help them succeed both professionally and academically. T.M.: The most challenging thing about returning to education is the time it demands, but organising my “free” time has helped. My kids think it’s very cool that their mom is getting her MBA and have admired the 5 a.m. starts for live video calls. Q. Are there unique elements of the programme that you feel will enhance your career objectives? A.B.: I think the global nature of the programme and the relevancy of the topics we discuss as part of each subject are unique and immediately add value to my everyday work. Q. Has the programme met/exceeded your expectations? H.V.: Without a doubt! It really has exceeded my expectations of an MBA degree programme. T.M.: The programme has already exceeded my expectations. I love what I am learning. The content is engaging and enlightening; the flexibility is incredibly helpful; the staff supporting the programme is responsive, and the faculty members have been very open and available to help and engage with the students. When we have questions or challenges, I feel that we, as a cohort, are heard and very well supported. Q. How would you summarise your MBA experience at Macquarie Business School to date? A.B.: Macquarie Business School faculty members are incredibly knowledgeable and personable and I’m thoroughly enjoying my time doing the Global MBA. H.V.: Three words: intense (due to six-week sprints), flexible, and thoughtprovoking. T.M.: This has been an excellent experience that has been both challenging and rewarding. The content is interesting, current, and useful!

“Credibility, flexibility, and price were the three main criteria I was guided by when I chose the Macquarie Global MBA.” “The fresh approach, relevant content, and global exposure were additional positives for me.” “I think that the admissions process at Macquarie is quite simple and almost paperless.” “I love what I’ve learnt and have already been able to apply it to my daily workflow.”




he benefits attached to an MBA are well documented: career progression, networking opportunities, personal development, salary... and the list goes on. However, in an increasingly congested market, selecting the right business school can be difficult, which is far from ideal given the time and investment involved. Using a ranking system entirely geared and weighted to fact-based criteria, CEO Magazine aims to cut through the noise and provide potential students with a performance benchmark for those schools under review.

Weighting of Data Points (full-time and part-time MBA)

Quality of Faculty:

34.95 %

International Diversity:


Class Size:




Faculty to Student Ratio: Price:

7.76% 5.83%

International Exposure:


Work Experience:


Professional Development:


Gender Parity:


Delivery methods:

*EMBA Weighting: Work experience and international diversity are adjusted accordingly.

3.8% 0%


10 %

GLOBAL MBA RANKINGS Business School Country AIX Marseille Graduate School of Management Monaco American University: Kogod North America Appalachian State University* North America Ashland University North America Aston Business School UK Auburn University: Harbert North America Auckland Institute of Studies New Zealand Audencia Business school France Bentley University: McCallum North America Boston University: Questrom North America Brunel Business School UK Business School Netherlands The Netherlands California State University-Chico North America California State University-​Long Beach North America California State University-East Bay North America California State University-San Bernardino North America City University: Cass UK College of William and Mary: Mason North America Colorado Technical University North America Concordia University Canada Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins North America Darmstadt Business School Germany Durham University Business School UK EBS Business School Germany 12

15 %

20 %

25 %

30 %

35 %

**Online MBA Weighting: Delivery mode and class size are removed.


Business School Emlyon Business School ESADE Business School EU Business School

Country France Spain Germany, Spain and Switzerland Florida International University North America Fordham University North America GBSB Global Business School Spain George Washington University North America Georgia State University: Robinson North America Grenoble Graduate School of Business France Griffith University Australia HEC Montréal Canada HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management Germany Hofstra University: Zarb North America Hult Internatonal Business School North America IAE Business School Argentina IFM University Switzerland Indiana University: Kelley North America ISEG – University of Lisbon Portugal Kennesaw State University North America Kent State University North America La Trobe University Australia Lagos Business School Nigeria Lancaster Management School UK Leeds University Business School UK

*Some data unavailable / Winter 2020

GLOBAL MBA RANKINGS Business School Country Loyola Marymount University North America Maastricht School of Management The Netherlands Macquarie Business School Australia McMaster University: DeGroote Canada MIP Politecnico di Milano Italy Nebrija Business School Spain Newcastle University Business School UK Nyenrode Business University The Netherlands Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America Queens University of Charlotte North America RMIT University Australia Saint Joseph's University: Haub North America SBS Swiss Business School Switzerland Simon Fraser University: Beedie Canada Swinburne University of Technology Australia Texas A&M University-​College Station: Mays North America Texas Christian University: Neeley North America The American University in Cairo Egypt The Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) Mexico The Lisbon MBA Catolica|Nova* Portugal The Univerisity of Newcastle Australia Australia The University of Adelaide Australia Torrens University Australia Australia Toulouse Business School France Toulouse Business School (with IMM Bangalore) France and India Trinity College Dublin School of Business Republic of Ireland University of Business and International Studies Switzerland United International Belgium, Italy Japan, Business Schools the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland University of Akron North America University of Alabama: Manderson North America University of Alberta Canada University of Baltimore North America University of California at Davis North America University of California-San Diego: Rady North America


Business School University of Canterbury University of Chile FEN-CHILE University of Delaware: Lerner University of Denver: Daniels University of Exeter University of Kentucky: Gatton University of Liverpool Management School University of Maine University of Massachusetts-​Boston University of Massachusetts-​Lowell University of Nebraska-Omaha University of North Carolina-Charlotte: Belk University of North Carolina-Wilmington: Cameron University of Oklahoma: Price University of Oregon: Lundquist University of Otago Business School University of Pittsburgh: Katz University of Portland: Pamplin University of Pretoria Gordon Institute of Business Science University of Richmond: Robins University of Sheffield Management School University of South Australia University of South Florida: Muma University of Tampa: Sykes University of Texas at Arlington University of Texas-​Dallas : Jindal University of Texas-San Antonio University of the Sciences University of West Georgia University of Wollongong Sydney Business School Victoria Graduate School of Business Virginia Tech: Pamplin Walsh College Willamette University: Atkinson Xavier University

Country New Zealand Chile North America North America UK North America UK North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America New Zealand North America North America South Africa North America UK Australia North America North America North America North America North America North America North America Australia Australia North America North America North America North America

TIER TWO Business School Baylor University: Hankamer Bryant University* Butler University Drake University Fairfield University* Gonzaga University* Jacksonville University* Marquette University Northwest Missouri State University Oakland University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Lally Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders Seattle University: Albers Suffolk University / Winter 2020

Country North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America

Business School Texas State University: McCoy* University of Cincinnati: Lindner* University of Louisiana at Lafayette University of Louisville* University of Massachusetts-Amherst: Isenberg University of Michigan-Flint* University of New Mexico: Anderson* University of North Alabama University of North Texas University of Southern Queensland University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Lubar Virginia Commonwealth University

*Some data unavailable

Country North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America Australia North America North America




1 City University: Cass 2 Maastricht School of Management

UK The Netherlands

3 Audencia Business school


5 Swinburne University of Technology

38 University of Wollongong Sydney Business School

9 Hult Internatonal Business School

40 University of Alberta


42 Washington State University: Carson

North America


43 California State University-East Bay

11 Business School Netherlands

North America


46 Boston University: Questrom

North America

47 MIP Politecnico di Milano

France The Netherlands

13 Kennesaw State University

North America

North America Italy

49 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile =50 University of Chile FEN-CHILE

South Africa


48 Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders =50 Lagos Business School 51



45 IfM Institut für Management

12 University of Pretoria Gordon Institute of Business Science


44 ESADE Business School

North America

10 Grenoble Graduate School of Business




7 University of Ottawa: Telfer 8 University of Texas-San Antonio

North America

41 United International Business Schools

Autónomo de México (ITAM) 6 IFM University Switzerland


38 Baylor University: Hankamer

4 The Instituto Tecnológico


North America Chile Nigeria Chile

Kent State University

North America

14 Global OneMBA

52 Fordham University

North America

53 Loyola Marymount University

North America

(Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV-EAESP); Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM); Tecnológico de Monterrey (EGADE); University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC); and Xiamen University, School of Management (SMXMU))

15 Maastricht University

54 McMaster University: DeGroote Brazil, China, Mexico, the Netherlands and North America The Netherlands


55 University of Pittsburgh: Katz

North America

56 The University of Alabama: Manderson

North America

57 University of Texas at Arlington

North America

58 Texas A&M University-​College Station: Mays

North America

59 Virginia Tech: Pamplin

North America

60 University of Exeter


16 Rutgers Business School

North America

17 University of Denver: Daniels

North America

61 University of Oklahoma: Price

North America


=62 University of Kentucky: Gatton

North America

=62 University of Oregon

North America

18 SBS Swiss Business School 19 Villanova University

North America

20 Georgia State University: Robinson

North America

=21 Emlyon Business School


64 University of Tampa: Sykes

North America

65 University of North Carolina-Wilmington:

North America

North America

66 Auburn University: Harbert

North America

23 Trinity College Dublin School of Business Republic of Ireland

67 University of South Florida: Muma

North America

24 IMM Global Executive EMBA

68 University of Bradford School of Management UK and Dubai

69 University of California-San Diego: Rady

North America

70 Texas Christian University: Neeley

North America


=21 University of Texas-​Dallas : Jindal 22 Florida International University

(Purdue University-West Lafayette: Krannert, TIAS School for Business and Society Tilburg, North America, Tianjin University, the Netherlands, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV- EBAPE), China, Brazil, MIP Politecnico di Milano Italy and ISM University of Management and Economics) and Lithuania

25 INCAE Business School

Costa Rica

26 The American University in Cairo 27 Purdue University-West Lafayette: Krannert


30 University of Nebraska-Omaha 31

Massey University

32 Concordia University 33 Pepperdine University: Graziadio 34 IAE Business School

Saint Joseph's University: Haub

North America

72 College of William and Mary: Mason

North America

73 California State University-​Long Beach

North America

74 University of New Mexico: Anderson*

North America

75 Marquette University

North America North America

77 Xavier University

North America

78 Seattle University: Albers

North America

North America

79 Jacksonville University*

North America

New Zealand

80 Aston Business School*


Canada Australia

Canada North America Argentina

81 Hofstra University: Zarb*

North America

82 University of North Alabama

North America

83 The Lisbon MBA Catolica|Nova*

35 Virginia Commonwealth University

North America

84 Crummer Graduate School

36 Oakland University

North America

37 Durham-EBS Executive MBA


North America

76 Suffolk University

North America

28 Simon Fraser University: Beedie EMBA & EMBA-IBL 29 RMIT University


Germany and UK

of Business at Rollins

85 University of Lousiville*

*Some data unavailable

Portugal North America North America / Winter 2020

GLOBAL ONLINE MBA RANKINGS Rank 1 EU Business School 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 =9 =9 =10 =10 11 =12 =12 =13 =13 14 15 =16 =16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Country Germany, Spain and Switzerland Switzerland Spain Switzerland New Zealand Australia

SBS Swiss Business School Nebrija Business School United International Business Schools University of Otago Business School Macquarie Business School University of Business and International Studies Switzerland University of South Australia Australia Massey University New Zealand University of Denver: Daniels North America Durham University Business School* UK MIP Politecnico di Milano: International Flex EMBA Italy Jack Welch Management Institute North America La Trobe University Australia University of Bradford School of Management UK Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America The EuroMBA (Aix-Marseille, Audencia Nantes, EADA, France, Germany, HHL Leipzig, Kozminski University the Netherlands, Poland and Spain and Maastrict University) Maastricht School of Management The Netherlands MIP Politecnico di Milano: Flex EMBA Italy Georgia WebMBA (Columbus State University, Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, University of West Georgia, Valdosta State University) North America Griffith University Australia American University: Kogod* North America Queens University of Charlotte North America University of the Sciences North America Torrens University Australia Australia RMIT University EMBA Australia Colorado Technical University North America University of Massachusetts-​Lowell North America Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders North America Walsh College* North America University of Maine North America University of Massachusetts-Amherst: Isenberg North America Washington State University: Carson North America Virginia Commonwealth University North America GBSB Global Business School Spain University of Texas-Dallas: Jindal North America

GLOBAL DBA LISTING Business School Aston Business School Baruch College, City University of New York: Zicklin Case Western Reserve: Weatherhead Cranfield School of Management DePaul University: Kellstadt Drexel University: LeBow Durham University Business School École des Ponts Business School EU Business School Florida International University GBSB Global Business School Georgia State University: Robinson Grenoble Graduate School of Business Harvard Business School IE Business School Jacksonville University Kennesaw State University: Coles Leeds University Business School / Winter 2020


Rank 32 University of Kentucky: Gatton =33 Saint Joseph's University: Haub =33 George Washington University 34 Baylor University: Hankamer 35 Ashland University 36 Swinburne University of Technology 37 Saint Joseph's University: Haub EMBA 38 University of Texas at Arlington 39 College of William and Mary: Mason 40 University of North Carolina-Wilmington: Cameron (MBA & EMBA) =41 University of Pittsburgh: Katz =41 Victoria Graduate School of Business 42 Aston Business School* 43 University of Baltimore 44 University of Delaware: Lerner 45 Bentley University: McCallum 46 California State University-San Bernardino 47 Drake University 48 University of Cincinnati: Lindner* 49 The Open University* 50 Xavier University 51 California State University-Long Beach 52 University of Southern Queensland 53 The Univerisity of Newcastle Australia 54 Kent State University 55 University of Exeter 56 Kennesaw State University =57 University of Louisiana at Lafayette =57 Seattle University: Albers 58 Florida International University 59 Indiana University: Kelley* 60 Auburn University: Harbert 61 University of South Florida: Muma 62 Hofstra University: Zarb* 63 University of North Alabama 64 University of Louisville* 65 University of North Texas 66 Bryant University* 67 The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 68 Jacksonville University* 69 Suffolk University 70 Northwest Missouri State University

Country North America North America North America North America North America Australia North America North America North America North America North America Australia UK North America North America North America North America North America North America UK North America North America Australia Australia North America UK North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America

Based upon accreditation, quality of faculty, geography, and international standing, this year’s Global DBA Listing is designed to showcase the market’s premier DBA providers.

Country UK North America North America UK North America North America UK France Pan-European North America Spain North America France North America Spain North America North America UK

Business School Maastricht School of Management Newcastle University Business School Nyenrode Business University Pepperdine University: Graziadio Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Rollins College: Crummer SBS Swiss Business School Temple University: Fox The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater United International Business Schools University of Bradford School of Management University of Dallas: Gupta University of Liverpool Management School University of Manchester: Alliance University of Missouri-St. Louis University of Pretoria-Gordon Institute of Business Science Washington University in St. Louis: Olin

*Some data unavailable

Country The Netherlands UK The Netherlands North America Chile North America Switzerland North America North America Pan- European UK North America UK UK North America South Africa North America 15




he MBA is evolving. Today’s MBA applicants are increasingly choosing to study online instead of on-campus. Although the trend is in its early stages, some schools have already decided to place greater emphasis on their distance fulltime and part-time MBA programmes. Business education website Poets&Quants reports that almost 32,000 students are studying for online MBAs at the 25 largest programmes in the US alone, and according to the most recent QS MBA Applications and Aspirations Report, 15 per cent of people


aspiring to do an MBA are choosing online courses. A New Demographic of MBA Candidates Driving this change is a new and more diverse cohort of MBA students. Typically older, more experienced, and with existing family and professional commitments, they see the MBA as a way to expand or upgrade their skill sets without disrupting their busy – and successful – lives. They have taken to heart futurist Alvien Toffler’s aphorism: ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’ This growing commitment to lifelong learning and relearning is deepening the pool of MBA candidates. Sonia González is Online Campus Director at EU Business School (EU), whose online MBA has been ranked number 1 globally by CEO Magazine for five years running. “Most of our students are older (26 to 50), highly qualified working professionals with / Winter 2020

a family, who don’t want to – or can’t – take a sabbatical,” she says. “They want an MBA to get promoted or change career.” Ramesh Venkataraman, Chair of Indiana University’s Kelley Direct MBA and MSc programmes, agrees. “More people are doing online programmes because they don’t want to stop their careers and quit their jobs,” he said in an interview with Poets&Quants. “They are doing perfectly fine and like their companies. So, the quality of students in these programmes is high.” In many cases, students are highly qualified professionals. A survey of online MBA students in 2019 revealed top military commanders, entrepreneurs, engineers and sales directors enrolled in programmes. Ranging in age from 28 to 65, they included key talents from companies such as Google, Citigroup, Apple, Nike, Disney, Cisco and General Motors. This trend is also noted at EU Business School with a significant increase in applications for its online MBA programme by more scientific and technical professionals, such as engineers, biochemists and psychologists. These techies are looking to gain managerial experience. Online MBAs are also attracting more / Winter 2020

women, with many programmes reaching or exceeding gender parity. The lack of travel removes the barrier to entry for candidates who are raising or planning families. “We are noticing a growth in the number of pregnant women who enrol,” says Sonia González. A World of Choice People who are running businesses, working full-time in responsible roles, travelling frequently, or taking care of their families – often all at the same time – understand the value of time. They need to know that the effort they invest in an online MBA will be rewarded. As a result, they are much more likely than full-time, on-campus MBA candidates to look beyond their local options and seek out international schools with a high reputation. Distance education offers them the perfect solution. Sangeet Chowfla, CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, explained in an interview that the global appeal of schools in Europe is expanding and now includes more than just the well-known names. “Europe is becoming a more attractive destination beyond the obvious big brand schools,” she said. “This is a significant

“Completing a challenging MBA programme alone, after work, without the in-person support of classmates or professors can be a tough experience that demands discipline and high degrees of motivation. This is recognised and valued by employers.”


“In Europe and North America, employers recognise that the academic demands of online programmes from respected business schools are every bit as rigorous as those of their on-campus counterparts.”


change that is going to affect the contours of the industry over time.” With the increase in the number of programmes offered online, students are now able to find MBA programmes that match their exact requirements. They are no longer solely focused on managerial and business disciplines and thus include STEM elements, such as blockchain management. In many ways, the dispersed nature of online MBAs reflects the modern workplace. Students form part of multicultural environments and carry out projects with team members across different countries and time zones. This adds value by providing a multicultural perspective and understanding of group work. “Alumni tell us that by working in multicultural teams during their online MBA, they get direct experience of a global business environment,” says Sonia González. “They also sharpen their tech skills and build their familiarity with coordinating and leading projects that require multiple platforms, often

at the cutting edge of technology.” Motivation 101 The myth that online MBAs are inferior to full-time qualifications is debunked by even the most cursory look at the evidence. In Europe and North America, employers recognise that the academic demands of online programmes from respected business schools are every bit as rigorous as those of their on-campus counterparts. González states that online learning is increasingly accepted as equally valid in most other parts of the world, although she concedes there is still some way to go in Asia. “But that is changing, and will continue to change over the coming years,” she says. Online MBA graduates may even be at an advantage. Recruiters recognise – and value – the increased motivation that online students must demonstrate. They also develop outstanding time-management skills and learn to prioritise effectively and work efficiently. Completing a challenging MBA / Winter 2020

programme alone, after work, without the in-person support of classmates or professors can be a tough experience that demands discipline and high degrees of motivation. This is recognised and valued by employers. The Online Road to ROI While online programmes present specific challenges, they also offer specific benefits, including cost-effectiveness. For example, the lack of accommodation, commuting, or relocation costs increases the potential return on investment for students and compensates for the extra effort involved. Studying at home when tired from work or family activities may not sound like much fun, but student feedback suggests that satisfaction levels with online programmes are high. A Poets&Quants survey revealed that online students would recommend their programme to friends with a 9.22 level of enthusiasm, on a scale of 1 to 10. This is supported by the feedback that schools receive from graduates. “Students love it. Most say it was more challenging than expected, but they learned a lot,” says Sonia González. “They enjoy being part of an international programme, / Winter 2020

broadening their perspectives, and building a global network of contacts and friends from home.” EU’s online MBA programmes strengthen this network by including an oncampus week, which allows students to meet their fellow students and lecturers face-toface for peer support and networking. The user experience for online MBA students is improving in step with technological advances. Broadband and mobile internet connectivity are still limited in parts of many countries, but 5G wireless promises to be a game-changer. It has the potential to unlock dependable access to online classes, webinars, videoconferences, and libraries of study material for talented students in new markets around the world. The evolution of the MBA is still ongoing. The online MBA programme at EU Business School is at the forefront of this evolution, adapting to the demands of a globalised business world and the needs and requirements of students. Our online MBA programme offers a choice of eight majors in highly sought-after sectors, including blockchain management, global banking and finance, and digital business.


Established in 1973, EU Business School (EU) is an international, professionally accredited, highranking business school with campuses in Barcelona, Geneva, Montreux, Munich, and online. We offer English taught foundation, bachelor’s, master’s and MBA programmes. 19



ark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates founded their pathbreaking companies when they were still in their teens. Steve Jobs founded Apple at 21. Their stories, which get a lot of media attention, have many believing


that younger entrepreneurs are the most successful. However, research from Wharton management professor Daniel Kim shows they are exceptions to the rule, and that the average age of successful entrepreneurs is actually a lot older. The study, “Age and / Winter 2020

“Younger people might be more capable of disruptive ideas because they’re less beholden to existing paradigms or ways of doing things.”

growth Entrepreneurship,” determined the most successful founders in the United States are in their 40s. Javier Miranda, principal economist at the U.S. Census Bureau; Benjamin Jones, professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; and Pierre Azoulay, professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, co-authored the study. Kim sat down with Knowledge@Wharton to talk about why middle-aged entrepreneurs bring the benefit of experience to the founder’s table. An edited transcript of the conversation follows. / Winter 2020

Knowledge@Wharton: If “age ain’t nothing but a number,” as the Aaliyah song goes, why was it important to ask this research question about the average age of successful entrepreneurs? Daniel Kim: There’s this prevailing view that entrepreneurs, especially the most successful ones, tend to be young. Paul Graham, a prominent venture investor, once quipped that when evaluating entrepreneurs, the cut-off is 32. After that age, they start to become a little skeptical. If that perspective is true, it raises a lot of questions on why experience doesn’t seem to matter for entrepreneurship like it does for other types of careers. 21

“Among all the entrepreneurs in the U.S. between 2007 and 2014, at the time of founding, the average age was 42.”

Knowledge@Wharton: What are some of the advantages that younger people might have when trying to found a successful company? Kim: There are some theories on why young people may be better entrepreneurs. Two ideas come to mind. One is that younger people might be more capable of disruptive ideas because they’re less beholden to existing paradigms or ways of doing things. As a result, they might be better positioned to come up with new, groundbreaking ideas. The second idea is that young people just have more time and energy. Because starting a venture is a really taxing journey, that might put them at an advantage. Knowledge@Wharton: To study this, how did you pinpoint age and separate high-growth start-ups from just any business? Kim: To provide a systematic answer to this question, what my co-authors and I have done is leverage confidential administrative data sets from the U.S. government that allowed us to study the population of entrepreneurs in the U.S. to have real findings on this question. Knowledge@Wharton: What were some of the most surprising findings? What was the magic number? Kim: Among all the entrepreneurs in the U.S. between 2007 and 2014, at the time of founding, the average age was 42. The vast majority of these companies are small businesses like laundromats and restaurants that have little to no intention of growing to become a large organization. To reshift our focus on high-tech startups, which are probably the more prototypical startups we have in our minds, we looked at the high-tech industries as well as venture capital-backed and patent-owning firms. And there, the average age was slightly higher, 43. Then, when we zoomed in on these entrepreneurial regions like Silicon Valley or even Boston, we found that the average age was still in the early 40s. Knowledge@Wharton: In the paper, you gave a batting average for creating successful firms. Can you share that? Kim: The real question here is, what about the most successful entrepreneurs? It’s possible that the extreme upper tail is where maybe perhaps the younger entrepreneurs really shine. We looked at the fastest-growing startups in the U.S., which would be the top 0.1% in terms of their employment growth over five


years. In that region, the average age was actually higher at 45. When we took a different definition of success, which would be exits through an IPO or an acquisition, the average age was still in the mid-40s. So, there seemed to be this very consistent finding that the likelihood of entrepreneurial success rises with age. Knowledge@Wharton: Your study also found other peaks and valleys with age and entrepreneurs. Tell us about that. Kim: I think an underlying question here is, what is driving the age effect? Because age reflects many, many things in life. We know that with age, many benefits accumulate, including your social ties — your relationship with suppliers and potential hires and cofounders — as well as financial wealth and human capital that you gain from working in different companies. What we’ve found to be the most supportive in really explaining this link between age and entrepreneurial success was prior experience. The number of years that one spends in the same industry as the startup was predictive of that company’s future performance. Knowledge@Wharton: Startups are often founded by teams rather than one person. Did you find trends among founding teams? Kim: That is a ripe area for research. What we’ve done is take the average age within a founding team. Just for robustness checks, we’ve taken the oldest founder and the youngest founder. But there could be some areas that we could explore in terms of age diversity on a team. You could have the Zuckerbergs and Sheryl Sandbergs on a team, where you have a very young entrepreneur and perhaps an older manager to balance out those views. But we haven’t really directly tested for those stories yet. Knowledge@Wharton: Zuckerberg and Gates may be the exception to the rule, but your paper looks a little closer at that. You argue that it’s not necessarily that they are outliers, but that we might be looking at the question incorrectly in terms of looking at their whole career. Kim: Right. The first point would be that when you look at just the Zuckerbergs and Gateses of the world, you’re really cherrypicking the examples that the media likes to show. When we look at those individuals and their career histories, there is some evidence that over time they get better as operators and entrepreneurs of real companies. Even in that example, we have reasons to think that age is still an advantage in terms of being an entrepreneur. / Winter 2020

Knowledge@Wharton: How do you hope that founders and also funders engage with this research? You pointed out that venture capital often favors the young, and this research shows that might not be the best approach. Kim: What we did in the first place was just look at venture investors and their portfolio of companies, and then their founders, just to see whether this age bias appeared in the companies that they invest in. And we found that to be true. Among the three venture capital firms that we looked at, they really invested in younger entrepreneurs. There are two things that could be happening here. One, they could just be Knowledge@Wharton: It’s not unusual at misinformed. Perhaps they just didn’t Wharton to meet undergrads who have know that there is an age advantage to startups or even high school students entrepreneurship. And now, they’re more who are startup veterans. How should informed. The second one is more nuanced. this research inform what we teach about They may know what’s happening, entrepreneurship to younger but they also know that there’s people? We shouldn’t discourage greater bargaining power against them, but does this change the young entrepreneurs. This is more message? of a rational bias, if you will. Kim: There are a lot of It’s really unclear why and implications for educators, like how the investors are taking those of us here at Wharton, as “The number of into account the age effect in well as policymakers. How do entrepreneurship, but there we promote entrepreneurship? years that one seems to be this bias among the In teaching entrepreneurship, spends in the venture investors towards younger universities tend to focus on encouraging students to start same industry as entrepreneurs. new companies while they’re in the startup was Knowledge@Wharton: What school or shortly after graduation. you hope that mid-career or Perhaps that’s the wrong model predictive of that do late-career professionals who because what these results are showing us is that this might lead to company’s future are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs take from this? suboptimal entry of young workers performance.” Kim: That’s a great point. I’ve into entrepreneurship. This might spoken to many executive MBA be a very premature career move students who are in their early 40s because their chances might have and late 30s, and I’ve heard many been better if they had gained perspectives that it might be too late more industry experience prior to for them to become entrepreneurs. starting their own company. We What we want to do is discourage might want to think about how do and dispel that myth because what we’re we promote better entrepreneurship? Which finding is they actually might be in the best is by encouraging students to gain relevant position to start new companies. experience before diving into their own ventures. Knowledge@Wharton: What are some future lines for this research? Knowledge@Wharton: It also seems to Kim: One paper that we’re trying to suggest that if you fail at one startup when do right now is on immigration. We’ve you’re younger, that doesn’t mean it’s the been really fascinated by both the role that end of the story for you. Your peak might not entrepreneurs play in the U.S. in terms of yet have come. creating new jobs through new ventures, and Kim: Exactly. There’s the whole mantra by how population-level data sets allow us of fail fast, so we also need to look at serial to study this in a comprehensive way. We’re entrepreneurs, whether it really makes sense looking at immigrant entrepreneurs and the to try and then fail, and if that actually helps role that they play in creating jobs in the U.S. you become a better entrepreneur. I think the economy versus the jobs that are perhaps jury’s still out on that question. We hope to being “taken” by new immigrants in the U.S., study that as well. and really comparing those two streams. Knowledge@Wharton: It’s not that Mark Zuckerberg reached his peak at 19, or that Steve Jobs reached his peak at 21. Jobs did all sorts of things after 21. Elon Musk has done all sorts of things since founding Tesla. Kim: Exactly. And we want to caveat this: Some ideas just can’t wait. Zuckerberg founding a company at age 19 was the right time to do that. We’re not saying you should only be an entrepreneur when you’re 45. There are some caveats and outliers here. But we’re trying to make this general point that this link between entrepreneurship and age is a really strong one. / Winter 2020

“There seemed to be this very consistent finding that the likelihood of entrepreneurial success rises with age.”


Republished with permission from Knowledge@Wharton (http://knowledge. wharton.upenn. edu), the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 23


24 / Winter 2020

The 36-credit hour online MBA (OMBA) and the 42-credit hour executive MBA (EMBA) are taught entirely online. Both programmes require 12, three-credit courses that can be completed over one or two years, depending on the student’s availability. The EMBA offers added experiences in the form of three residencies, two of which are in beautiful, coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, and one which is in another country. This year, we will be travelling to Cape Town, South Africa. Prior groups have visited the Czech Republic and China. Q. There is much talk of disruptive innovation shaping both the MBA marketplace, and industry in the wider sense. To what extent has this influenced your curriculum and programme provision? Our faculty keep their course content up-to-date by constantly refreshing the curriculum to keep pace with developments in the marketplace. We incorporate interviews, current events, and market developments in both the lectures and case materials.

“Students are given the opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills, and abilities gained in their MBA courses to solving a real problem for a real company.”

Q. Your faculty bring terminal degrees and real-world experience to the table. Whilst the former is expected, the latter is not always a given. In terms of relevancy, how important is this? Business is an applied field, and having faculty with applied experience is of great benefit to our students. Consequently, theory is not just learnt, it is also experienced via the examples professors are able to give from their own careers.

Q. Can you tell me more about your on-campus and online MBA options? At the Cameron School of Business, our MBA programmes—both online and oncampus—are designed with the working professional in mind. The Professional MBA (PMBA) is a hybrid, online/face-to-face 42-credit programme that meets one night per week on campus with the remaining coursework completed online. We offer several degree specialisations, including international business, finance, business analytics, and health care management. The programme also includes three “Learning Alliance” credits, a hands-on applied learning consultancy project, as well as professional education delivered over two long weekend residencies. / Winter 2020

Q. Your professional MBA offers an exciting experiential dimension, via the Learning Alliance element. What does this entail, and how hands-on do your students get? In the spring, student teams are partnered with local businesses that have contacted the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) for guidance on business issues they’re facing. After meeting with their client, the MBA teams complete an environmental analysis, which provides important context for the subsequent growth and profit project. It also provides valued information when addressing the objectives the client wishes to purse within the consultation process. Teams present the results of their analysis and recommendations in a formal setting during the summer. Q. The cost attached to an MBA can be daunting for some applicants. To what extent does your ‘pay-as-you-learn’ option obviate this? Students have the option to complete the programme in one year, or they can work 25

“Business is an applied field, and having faculty with applied experience is of great benefit to our students.”


Nivine Richie is the Associate Dean of Graduate Programmes for the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Robert Burrus is the Dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 26

around their personal schedules and take two years or more to complete the programme. Because they pay for the classes in which they are currently enroled, the cost is spread over the duration of the programme, rather than being required in a single lump sum at the beginning. Q. You cater for both the generalist (traditional MBA) and the specialist, via four specialisations: healthcare, finance, business analytics and international business. Of the aforementioned options, which is the most popular and why? All four specialisations are popular, particularly Business Analytics and Healthcare Management. I think their popularity reflects the importance of big data analytics to the business community, as well as the evolving trends in healthcare. Q. With the pace at which the global business landscape is changing, is there a danger that certain specialisations are too specialist? Business is constantly changing and evolving, so the tools of a discipline like business analytics may not be the same in a few years from now. However, our programme teaches problem-solving skills and strategies that benefit a manager regardless of the tools used to solve a problem. The MBA is a generalist degree with specialisations that are simply opportunities for candidates to apply a theme to their elective courses. However, we do offer more specialised masters for those who want to dive deeper into a particular field: ● Master of Science in Finance & Investment Management is a fully online master’s degree that is aligned with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) curriculum. Students complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) in each of the topic areas covered in the CFA Institute Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK). Applicants who have successfully completed the CFA Level I exam can have their GMAT exam requirement for admission waived. The programme is not a CFA Exam prep course but rather a rigorous master of science in finance degree where the curriculum is consistent with the CFA curriculum. ● Master of Science in Business Analytics is also a fully online master’s degree where students complete 10 courses (30 credit hours) focused on developing analytical skills. This technical degree concentrates on the techniques, models, and analytical methods needed to create data-driven solutions. Your online EMBA options offer on-campus and international residencies.

Q (a). From a networking standpoint, how important are these residencies? Absolutely invaluable. The residencies allow the students to interact face-to-face. They may get acquainted in an online class but they really get to know one another and build meaningful relationships in the intensive residency experiences. Q (b). How much emphasis do you place upon the development of soft skills whilst students are on campus? The majority of the focus of the Wilmington residencies is on soft-skill development. Critical management skills such as personal communication, negotiation, leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution (which are difficult to learn online) are the focus of these residencies. Q (c). What can students expect to gain from the international study trip? The international residency is designed to provide students with insight into how business works outside of the borders of the United States. With destinations like Shanghai, Prague and Cape Town, the residencies challenge students. They also include an in-depth business consultancy project where students complete a market analysis and offer recommendations to a local business. Students are given the opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills, and abilities gained in their MBA courses to solving a real problem for a real company. Q. In terms of admission, what advice would you give potential applicants? We pay careful attention to applicants’ work experience, in addition to undergraduate academic performance. A candidate can strengthen his or her application by writing a compeling cover letter describing their growing professional responsibility and experience. Q. You have enjoyed great success over the years in preparing students to manage and lead teams and businesses. What’s next for the Cameron School of Business? As the Cameron School celebrates our 40th anniversary, we desire to continue to serve the needs of our community, state, nation, and world. This has translated significantly to the online education of adult learners who cannot move to our area. In the future, we plan to build on these successes by expanding our offerings of niche graduate programmes that tie directly to our MBA programmes. We also plan to expand certificate offerings for students who do not desire a full degree, and we plan to offer executive programmes that leverage our beautiful, coastal location. / Winter 2020


he Kennesaw State University Executive MBA programme combines business acumen, strategic planning, leadership, and teaming, and is designed to help students advance in their careers. Their motto is ‘what you learn on the weekends you apply on Monday’ as their applied, integrated curriculum is designed to be instantly applicable in the workplace. This is one of the many reasons why their students and alumni are frequently promoted during and after the programme. The 19-month EMBA culminates with teams participating in a global business consulting project, and a business plan, which is presented to a panel of faculty and potential investors. While the class is made up of primarily full-time ‘employees’, it is not unusual for many of the students to enter the EMBA with dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Thus, the business plan preparation and presentation portion of the programme not only provides an opportunity for applied learning but also allows students to test their ideas in a safe environment. For most students, the end goal is to earn a good grade on the business plan and presentation. However, for those would-be entrepreneurs, it could be the beginning of an exciting journey. Here’s a look at three alumni who have spread their wings and taken flight on their entrepreneurial adventure. / Winter 2020


Spotlight: EMBA alumni who have started businesses from their KSU EMBA business plans.


Femi Agbato

“The venture has taken me across the world in every sense and has given me an abundance of knowledge and experience, both from the successes and failures alike.”

Class of 2016

also benefited from the teaming exercises. By effectively delegating tasks to team members or, in my case, partnering with service providers with stronger expertise in certain areas, I was able to bring about more effective results. As a business, tasks such as web development, media and marketing, lead generation, and fund raising were all assigned to external service providers.

Company: Dam Coolers, LLC. Stage: Seed and Development Tell me a little bit about your business. DAM Coolers LLC is an outdoor company with innovative ideas around outdoor products. Our products are more efficient in design and performance, and they are greener to produce with a lower environmental footprint. When you entered the KSU Executive MBA programme, were you already an entrepreneur or considering entrepreneurship? Did you already have an idea in mind? I was not an entrepreneur, but I did have several business ideas in mind. I understand that in the EMBA programme, teams must decide on a business plan as part of a capstone project. Tell me a little bit about this process. How receptive were your teammates to your idea? Were there other ideas being vetted? To be honest, DAM Coolers was not my idea. Our team bounced around different concepts for days until we heard this one, but we all accepted it. I was instantly in love with the idea because it gave me the opportunity to practice a lot of what I’d learned in school and at work regarding engineering and product development. Although other ideas were vetted, the team agreed on this one almost unanimously. Over the last three years since graduation, I have continued to develop and own the project.

How receptive were the other students and faculty when you presented your plan? Were there any students or members of your team that wanted to invest if you decided to move forward? The cohort was very receptive to our plan, during and after the presentation, and our team won the ‘Most Likely to Start A Business’ award. After the programme, myself and another member of the team decided to move forward with the plan. Both of us have since invested our time and money in the business. How soon after graduation did you move forward with your business? Did you maintain your current career or take the full leap into entrepreneurship? Although the LLC was formed a month before graduation, we maintained our careers throughout the majority of the process as there was a lot of additional product development to be done. We were about three years in when I decided to pursue DAM Coolers LLC full-time as it required more of my attention to get it off the ground.

What were some of the things you learned in the EMBA programme that were beneficial in the creation of the business plan? How did the team work together to create the final product? Market research was one of the biggest things I learned, and it really helped me stick with the DAM Coolers idea. There were also simulation tools and ideas that we practiced during the EMBA programme, which helped us dive into markets and the spaces occupied by our competition. I was later able to replicate these concepts with DAM Coolers and saw opportunities to be different, add value, and do something generally better. I 28 / Winter 2020

Where do you see your business in the next three to five years? Do you have aspirations of starting any other companies? In the next three to five years I hope to have a full line of complementary products developed alongside our coolers. I see the business being profitable with bigger strategic partnerships to help create more value. I also have aspirations to start other companies. The more exposure I get working with DAM Coolers, the more opportunities I see in the world to create value and profit from it. Anything else you would like to share with our readers? DAM Coolers has been a fun adventure, to say the very least. The venture has taken me across the world in every sense and has given me an abundance of knowledge and experience, both from the successes and failures alike. Both should be meditated on and valued. DAM Coolers’ products will be available for sale this summer:

Mary Hames

Class of 2018 Company: GenetAssistant Stage: Startup Tell me a little bit about your business. GenetAssistant is a full-service genetics consulting firm, offering help to patients and physicians looking for answers in their genetic code. We can help to determine the risk of familial diseases, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s, help look for etiology of a known condition (why do I have epilepsy?), or the best medications or diet based on one’s genetic/pharmacogenomic profile (should I take Nexium or Prilosec? Is Atkins really the best diet for me?). When you entered the KSU Executive MBA programme, were you already an entrepreneur or considering entrepreneurship? Did you already have an idea in mind? I’d like to think I’ve always been entrepreneurial, but I wasn’t ready to start my own company until I fleshed out an idea in the EMBA programme. The EMBA gave me the skills and confidence to venture out on my own. / Winter 2020


“I did have other students in the class, and members of the team, say they would be interested in investing time and/or money in this idea, which was really humbling.”

I understand that in the EMBA programme, teams must decide on a business plan as part of a capstone project. Tell me a little bit about this process. How receptive were your teammates to your idea? Were there other ideas being vetted? When we got to this stage in the programme, I had an idea and pitched it to my team. I told them that this was something I wanted to pursue whether or not we used it as our project, but I knew it would be a lot stronger with their help. My team was awesome – they were eager to help and have continued to encourage me to pursue this dream. We did discuss other ideas, but ultimately (thankfully!) the team went with mine. What were some of the things you learned in the EMBA programme that were beneficial in the creation of the business plan? How did the team work together to create the final product? Working with a team helped me to strengthen my plan in the areas in which I’m weakest. We all tackled different sections, and it was so helpful to have people question ideas and help brainstorm ways to improve the business. I’m so lucky to have my team.

“I can envision High Road as a billion dollar+ good-food company in five years.”

How receptive were the other students and faculty when you presented your plan? Were there any students or members of your team that wanted to invest if you decided to move forward? I was so nervous when we pitched the idea to faculty and investors, but when everyone was encouraging and told us it was a good idea, it was so validating! They told me that I would be so much happier once I jumped off the cliff and started this company, and they were right! I did have other students in the class, and members of the team, say they would be interested in investing time and/or money in the idea, which was really humbling. How soon after graduation did you move forward with your business? Did you maintain your current career or take the full leap into entrepreneurship? I worked on the idea a bit here and there while still working, but jumping in completely is so exciting (and scary!). It took me a year and a half after graduation to quit my full-time job and dedicate fully to my business.

30 / Winter 2020

Where do you see your business in the next three to five years? Do you have aspirations of starting any other companies? In three to five years, I really think GenetAssistant could be a household name. If I do this right, it will change the way people get genetic testing. For now, this company is my only baby, but if the right offer came along, I’d be happy to start something else!

“The final product was actionable to the point we were able to start the business. That’s a testament to the utility of the programme.”

Anything else you would like to share with our readers? I’d say be brave. Ultimately, I think failure is better than regret. Also, please follow my company on social media! I’d love to hear your questions and feedback: www.genetassistant. com

Keith Schroeder

Class of 2014 Company: High Road Craft Ice Cream Stage: Expansion Tell me a little bit about your business. What started as a boutique ice cream manufacturing business for the foodservice sector is now a multi-brand ice cream company that’s expanding globally, with products sold to numerous channels. We’re also doing a lot of work to extend the brand into other sweet indulgences, for example, the High Road Craft Bakery, which will offer bake-at-home products. As with any business, you have to innovate in order to stay current. How does this fit into your operating model? Aside from being quite playful with the brand, we try to pay attention to the market we’re serving, which is highly diverse. To this end, we try to be first-to-market in satisfying consumer preferences. / Winter 2020



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the United States. KSU offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state.

When you entered the KSU Executive MBA programme, were you already an entrepreneur or considering entrepreneurship? Did you already have an idea in mind? I was working in the hospitality industry while in the MBA programme, but ultimately wanted to become an all-in entrepreneur. I did have an initial idea around the ice cream industry. I understand that in the EMBA programme, teams must decide on a business plan as part of a capstone project. Tell me a little bit about this process. How receptive were your teammates to your idea? Were there other ideas being vetted? At the time we were vetting business ideas, my team was looking for a dose of fun. The ice cream concept proved to be refreshing to them. However, we quickly realised that business is business, and the evaluation of the industry was a very rigorous exercise. What were some of the things you learned in the EMBA programme that were beneficial in the creation of the business plan? How did the team work together to create the final product? The KSU EMBA leadership appeared to be very intentional about forming teams – with an eye for diversity in thought and background. We acted like a fully-formed, real-deal executive leadership team, emphasising balanced input from all team members, and demanding high performance from one another. The final product was actionable to the point we were able to start the business. That’s a testament to the utility of the programme. How receptive were the other students and faculty when you presented your plan? Were there any students or members of your team that wanted to invest if you decided to move forward? Very. I think I brought a certain diversity of thought to the programme, which students and faculty welcomed. Interestingly, I was fortunate enough to benefit from significant investment in our initial seed round (250K), despite not asking for it. I think that through the relationships I formed with my peers, they realised that I had both the business acumen and moxie to pull off what I was proposing.


I think the timing was right. I was fatigued from working in anything that felt like a garden-variety corporation and needed to break free, which meant venturing out on my own. How soon after graduation did you move forward with your business? Did you maintain your current career or take the full leap into entrepreneurship? We incorporated two months prior to graduation, and went all-in. What’s made your business successful and where do you see it in the next three to five years? Do you have aspirations of starting any other companies? While the food-manufacturing industry has typically focused on cost optimisation and margin-driving, I really wanted to focus on the consumer, which meant offering up the same food we would serve in fine kitchens. I also felt that we had the ability to create opportunity for people. Having been a labourer in the trenches, I recognised the disparity in payrolls across America, so I wanted to create something that would allow folks to earn a handsome wage, buy a good home, and send their kids to a decent school. It was about addressing economic disparity, being good to our people, and creating a high-performance environment. In doing so, we’ve been able to develop highly skilled and passionate employees that, regardless of whether they stay with High Road or take on new challenges, bring significant value to the table. With our fantastic people, I can envision High Road as a billion dollar+ good-food company in five years. Elsewhere, I’m now a part of three emerging companies (various advisory and founding roles), in addition to my role as CEO at High Road. Anything else you would like to share with our readers? Leadership. For me, it was a learning process. When I started to prioritise the idea that I could be a very good CEO by building my executive skillset, things started to fall into place, but I had to work at it. Other advice… form a serious board early. Prioritise good governance. It will serve the stakeholders and the company well. / Winter 2020



Q. Why do MBA students choose RMIT? When prospective students apply to RMIT, they know they’re getting an industryconnected degree centred around design thinking, run by one of the largest business schools in the Asia Pacific region. Q. Can you talk about the MBA options available to potential students? We offer a number of MBA pathways. Aspiring professionals can elect to study fulltime, part-time, or online, as can those with more experience, via our Executive MBA.

“For us, success is being able to equip our students with the knowledge, skills, and network necessary to be able to develop and lead businesses, teams, and projects anywhere in the world.”


Q. How do the two pathways differ? Our traditional MBA, for those with less experience, is designed to provide business skills, problem-solving techniques, and network connections: the tools necessary to make an immediate impact, post-MBA. For our students on the Executive MBA programme, it’s about broadening their perspectives, teaching problem-solving strategies, and helping them to turn challenges into opportunities. / Winter 2020

Q. In a fairly saturated market, how do you stand out from the crowd? We pay attention to industry, which means creating an environment where disruptive thinking, innovation, and experimentation are fostered and encouraged, rather than being an afterthought. We also believe in looking beyond the classroom, which means providing students with real-world business exposure via our industry partners. Executive MBA students benefit from our professional development series, which allows them to connect and engage with prominent industry leaders on issues that matter. Q. Can you tell us a little about the faculty guiding your MBA offering? Our world-class faculty reflect the world around us: they’re international and bring industry experience to the table. However, as mentioned, in looking beyond the walls of the university, students also have the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s largest organisations. Q. To what extent are your programmes tailored to the needs of the individual? In order to create a tailored pathway, our students work with executive mentors to develop their leadership skills. They also have the opportunity to work one-on-one, via tutorials, with an academic from the MBA faculty. Q. In terms of ROI, what can graduates expect, or hope, to take away from their MBA experience? It depends how you measure ROI. Some of our graduates will benefit from salary increases, promotions, and relocation opportunities, while others will switch fields and, in some cases, start their own ventures; it’s about how you define success. For us, success is being able to equip our students with the knowledge, skills, and network necessary to be able to develop and lead businesses, teams, and projects anywhere in the world.


The focus on innovation at RMIT really made the programme unique – it's quite different to what other universities focus on. This was beneficial for us because it allowed us to learn a new mindset.” K ATI E R O O K E , EXECUTIVE MBA

“Some of our graduates will benefit from salary increases, promotions, and relocation opportunities, while others will switch fields and, in some cases, start their own ventures.”

I saw the MBA as a chance to gain a greater understanding of business capabilities, and also to pivot my career to enable new opportunities and drive change as I continued to develop.” CHARLIE ROBINSON R M I T M B A G R A D U AT E


RMIT University enjoys an international reputation in professional and vocational education, applied research, and engagement with the needs of industry and the community.

Q. In terms of scheduling and flexibility, how do you cater to the time-poor working professional? MBA students can study full-time, parttime - with classes typically held in the evenings - or elect to take some, or all, of their subjects online. Our EMBA students also benefit from these varied modalities, but parttime study tends to involve weekend blocks with the occasional mid-week (evening) session and long weekend. / Winter 2020





poiler alert: the answer is yes! Now let me explain why I think this is so. In the 1980 s , the primary motivation for doing an MBA was probably a desire to master marketing as that was seen as the shortest career path to the C-suite. In the 1990 s , it was a desire for the well-paying jobs in finance that drove many to pursue an MBA (with the exception of marketers who were being promoted and realized that (oops!) they knew nothing about marketing). With the rise of the MBA as a foundational rite of passage for the “serious” (read ambitious) manager, the 2000 s blurred the lines as finance and


marketing, but increasingly entrepreneurship, equally became the prime motivators for pursuing a business degree. After the global financial crisis, finance as a career lost much of its luster, however a deeper understanding of, and fluency in, corporate and project finance became even more important for anyone looking for a strategic role in any business. Entering the age of complexity Fast forward to today’s business reality in which we have fully-entered the age of complexity. A new reality in which we don’t / Winter 2020

(and can’t) even understand the tech we use on a daily basis. A case in point, there is not one person on the planet that understands just the hardware in an iPhone, let alone the software, the interconnections (between hardware, software, apps and services) and the many layers of interoperability. Not even Apple can fathom it all – which is why no matter how much they test a new version of iOS there are always bugs that need to be squashed (the reality is similar for Android users). This is the new normal, and we need to come to terms with it. If the 737 Max is grounded (without regards to Boeing’s communication and crisis management), it is largely due to the fact that today, for the first time, the complexity of a plane is such that no amount of computer simulation and controlled flight testing can recreate all reallife circumstances a pilot can encounter. And despite this truth, Boeing or Apple cannot admit that complexity has gotten ahead of us, because it would freak us all out. We still want to believe, and pardon the metaphor, that there is a pilot flying the plane. Overcomplicated?! This “overcomplicated” world, as described by Samuel Arbesman, in his book of the same name, tries to reassure us. His main message is that technology is now at the limits of our comprehension such that we need 1) to understand this, and 2) to take a new approach in our approach to this complexity. We should not fear technology, yet we should not revere it blindly either. Rather Arbesman suggests we should take a double approach - that of the physicist (who looks for universal theories, rules, and frameworks) as well as that of the biologist (who explores nature to understand and clarify the nature of phenomena). He also suggests that this overcomplicated world requires tech-aware leaders and managers who can effectively navigate, communicate, and innovate as physicists (top-down) and biologists (bottom-up).

“Welcome to the 2020s of business education where tech-aware leadership, rather than finance-adept management, is the primary takeaway of the new MBA graduate.” “Whereas lifelong learning was a ‘nice to have’ business schools offered alumni, it is now imperative to survive and thrive in the new VUCAT business arena.”

A new mindset for a new era This new era and approach require a new mindset. This mindset is similar to what Leonard Mlodinow refers to as an “elastic mindset”. In what he terms our “whirlwind era” – typified by a rapid pace of change, accelerating technological progress, and a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment – flexible thinking is now required to survive. If, as educators, notably in business schools, we want to prepare a new generation of MBAs to manage and lead in the workplace of today and tomorrow, it is clear that we need to rethink the MBA curriculum. While fundamental financial (and marketing) / Winter 2020


“The CEO, the Board, and the entire C-suite must become tech-aware or suffer the fate of being excluded from the key decisions facing companies today.” “While fundamental financial (and marketing) skills are still necessary arrows in a business graduate’s quiver, they will no longer suffice to gain entrance into a C-suite increasingly populated by engineers who are at ease with advanced technologies.”

skills are still necessary arrows in a business graduate’s quiver, they will no longer suffice to gain entrance into a C-suite increasingly populated by engineers who are at ease with advanced technologies. Tech-aware is the new requisite for entry into the C-suite On the one hand, understanding technology and making technology-based decisions can no longer be delegated to the CTO or CIO. The CEO, the Board, and the entire C-suite must become tech-aware or suffer the fate of being excluded from the key decisions facing companies today. On the other hand, you would be hard-pressed to present me with any startup founder who does not spend the majority of their time on technology. That is just their reality, whether they like it or not, whether intended or not. Cloud-based and on-premise technologies, e-marketplaces, e-commerce, e-payments, dematerialization, digital transformation, coding languages, websites, search engine marketing, database technology, AI and machine learning, chatbots, opensource and proprietary software, applications, apps and APIs – these are just some of the issues and questions facing almost any founder today. And since no one can master all that sits within this highly technical spectrum of technologies, leaders with elastic thinking are required. As we enter evermore firmly and durably into this new whirlwind and overcomplicated era, it is clear that we need to prepare our managers and leaders differently. Closer to home, as we thought about how to redesign our Global Executive MBA for this new era we realized 1) that technology management and tech-awareness need to figure much more prominently; 2) that finance and accounting, and some of the other MBA fundamentals, have become sufficiently “commoditized” as to be teachable mostly online; 3) that leadership in the form of elastic thinking and neuroplasticity needs to be an integral part of the program; 4) that innovation, lean entrepreneurship, and design thinking are key underlying skills in developing flexible thinking; and 5) that participants should face an array of real-world corporate tech challenges in order to ensure that they can stress test their new skillsets in the workplace rather than in the classroom. Possibly, even more interesting, we realized that the “learning contract” needed refreshing. The new learning contract – weighing Being heavier than Knowing Whether at university, business school, or any other learning institution, the typical implicit learning contract is that you will learn a lot (Knowing) and, in the process,


with the help of soft skills, also improve as a person (Being). There seems to be a Paretolike distribution whereby all curricula are designed for 80% knowing and 20% being. We realized that in an accelerating tech world, the half-life of knowledge is rapidly shrinking, such that the curricular balance should be rejigged 80-20 in the other direction with being the main component. Moreover, we realized that the content of both being and knowing needed to evolve. In this new era, and given the incredibly prominent role technology plays in complexifying our daily lives, it seems we need to design a curriculum that is adapted to a VUCA new normal. What I refer to as the new VUCAT (T for technological) era. In this era, the learning contract and the content of its components requires a serious rethink. From Know-how to Be-how The Knowing component of education needs to change. Whereas, until now, business schools taught hard skills that had a somewhat long half-life, the speed of business change, driven by the acceleration of technological progress, means that the skills we learned even five years ago are already outdated. So hard skills per se are a moving target and, let's be frank, are now readily packaged for consumption and accessible online more than ever before. So, what is really needed is the new soft skill of learning how to continuously learn new hard skills. Whereas lifelong learning was a "nice to have" business schools offered alumni, it is now imperative to survive and thrive in the new VUCAT business arena. When our technology is too overcomplicated to master, the question of relevant skills we should, and can, teach business students about technology is one that keeps many of us in education awake at night. If you look at the top business books coming out in 2020, many of them are focused on the convergence of multiple new technologies that will further accelerate the pace of change in domains as varied as agriculture, carbon capture, communication, finance, health, insurance, manufacturing, and mobility. No manager can be expected to master even a sliver of these technologies, yet harnessing their combined potential will define the winners and losers of the coming decades. This is why Being needs such a radical rethink. It now needs to go beyond the usual attribution of “socialization” which includes various soft skills, as well as ethics, to include the latest developments in neuroscience, adaptation, agility, collaboration, creativity, diversity and divergent thinking, intercultural issues, self-awareness and self-knowledge, effective decision-making in uncertain / Winter 2020

circumstances, situational leadership and situational followership, as well as articulating a vision. In all fairness, most MBAs have added much on this dimension to their programs in recent years, but we think it is necessary to go much further – and we have. Technology – yes! But in its proper context If a bigger part of knowing must now naturally skew from technical to technological acumen, and – due to overcomplication – from mastery to awareness, one can be fooled into thinking that technology is the center of the universe (and of our new MBA program). What we are really talking about, at the end of the day, is effective innovation management. It just so happens that technology has become a powerful catalyst for innovation. Technology allows us to do more, to rethink business models, to redesign workflows, to imagine new approaches. If successful innovation is driven by design thinking and lean innovation (build-test-learn loops), without the increased tech-awareness I have alluded to in this article, it is like the parable of the five Indians trying to describe an elephant. We can fool ourselves that we know what we are talking

Technology does not change the world.

about, but we are actually clueless. Innovating without awareness of what technologies can do and are doing is a form of flying blind (or at least with a blindfold). It cannot lead to much. This is why we are taking a radical approach to the new MBA curriculum – deemphasizing some traditional aspects of the MBA to emphasize more relevant aspects: real-world challenges, new technologies, innovative business models, lean innovation, project-based learning, harnessing collective intelligence to solve current business problems, and a new approach to agile leadership that harnesses advances in neuroscience and emotional intelligence. Our new LeadTech Executive MBA is our best attempt to prepare business students for the agility and understanding necessary to assume effective leadership positions in this new VUCAT world. And clearly, we will have to test and learn, listen and react, learn how to teach (better), and, of course, change and adapt. We need to walk the talk of the new business survival toolbox. Welcome to the 2020 s of business education, where techaware leadership, rather than finance-adept management, is the primary takeaway of the new MBA graduate …


Alon Rozen is the Dean of École des Ponts Business School and Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Take the power!

People do.

Global Executive MBA / Winter 2020



40 / Winter 2020

Q. According to data from Destatis, the MBA continues to be the most popular option for international students coming to Germany. Why is this? Undoubtedly, one of the most important reasons is that the MBA is aimed at a broad target group. Many of our students have a first degree in engineering, natural sciences or computer science. Over the past ten years, many business schools in Germany have developed MBA programmes for this target group, which are increasingly taught in English. These are internationally recognised as / Winter 2020

quality degree programmes imparting intensive management skills that build on an undergraduate degree. In general, graduating with an MBA from a German school offers excellent domestic career prospects. To allow for a smooth transition, MBA graduates are permitted to stay for 18 months after graduation to find a job. Q (a). What makes the conditions in Germany so appealing to international students wanting to work in the country, post-MBA? I think there are several reasons: Germany 41


Ralf Schellhase is the Director of Darmstadt Business School’s MBA programme. 42

offers excellent job opportunities in the is this, given the growing number of selfstrongest economic area of Europe – and funded MBA applicants and students? the world. Furthermore, the labour market From the beginning, our aim has been in Germany has a permanent need for to offer a programme that is not too big a professional managers with international financial hurdle and that’s accessible to experience and, compared to other countries, as many people as possible. Our students it is relatively easy to get a visa after regularly confirm that we offer very good graduation. value for money. Our full-time programme Beyond the job market, Germany is costs €24,800, including course materials. also a very good place to live. It’s a safe We also award scholarships to outstanding country; you can move freely and without applicants. In contrast to many of our fear everywhere – day and night, in the city competitors, we are a state-owned university, or the country. You are also in safe hands which means we operate as a not-for-profit with the German authorities. The organisation. This gives us the German constitution guarantees opportunity to offer high quality at all people the same rights: women a fair price. Our students appreciate and men have equal opportunities. this very much. In the labour market, highly qualified women have the same Q. The challenges attached to “In contrast chances as men. And Germany is a post-graduate student debt cosmopolitan and tolerant country. have been widely documented to many of our Today, nearly 11 million people from and, needless to say, something all over the world live here. People potential students would rather competitors, from different nations, cultures, and avoid. What does Darmstadt’s MBA we are a religions live together peacefully. fee structure do for students, in In addition to the terms of ROI? state-owned aforementioned, the landscapes of Darmstadt Business School Germany are diverse and charming; university, offers different options to support you have the seaside in the north, students financially. This begins which means dense forests and medieval castles with the scholarships offered to we operate as a in central Germany, and the alps in outstanding candidates, which the south. There is always plenty to cover 30 per cent of the tuition not-for-profit see and do. fees. We also allow students to pay tuition fees in instalments, which organisation. Q (b). How do you prepare students makes financing the MBA more This gives us for life after the MBA? comfortable. Darmstadt Business School Furthermore, we offer all the opportunity supports its students with a broad applicants an ‘Early-Bird-Discount’, to offer high consulting and placement service. which reduces the cost of tuition We offer German language courses, for those who decide to enrol at quality at intercultural training, application an early stage in the application training, advice regarding visa and period. a fair price.” work permits, support in finding It is also worth noting that jobs and internships through our students in Germany are allowed network, and much more. to work 120 days a year during their studies, which corresponds to a partQ. If you were to identify the top time position of 20 hours per week. three reasons why international At Darmstadt Business School, we students choose Germany over other also offer the very rare option to switch from European education destinations, what full-time to part-time mode if, for example, a would they be? full-time job has been found. A recent study by the DAAD looked at the motives of foreign students wanting to study Q. Beyond enhanced job prospects and a in Germany. The most important reasons robust set of general management skills, were good career opportunities, high quality what can MBA graduates expect to leave the higher education, internationally recognised programme with? degrees, and the reputation of German We offer a very classical general universities. management MBA which follows a holistic approach to doing business. We centre the Q. Despite the School’s impressive programme around strategy, marketing, and credentials, your tuition costs remain general management. It provides intensive, incredibly low, especially when compared to relevant, and effective preparation for the schools outside of Europe. How important challenges faced by executives of national and / Winter 2020

international enterprises. And, of course, we prepare our students to handle current topics, like the digitalisation of industry, the rising importance of networks, and the challenges of globalisation and ethical issues. One of the key values of our MBA is its long-term focus. German companies, especially medium-sized ones, think in much longer terms, as is the case in the USA. This horizon of thinking in generations rather than in quarters is key to the success of German and European corporations. We consider it to be crucial to convey this to our students.


Q. The advantages of a second, widelyspoken language in business are well documented. Do you offer assistance to international students wanting to learn German? Yes, of course, it is helpful, and in many companies it is also necessary to have at least a basic knowledge of German. Naturally, we offer support to our foreign students here. Our language school at hda provides a variety of German courses at all levels in which our students can participate free of charge. Q. What can international students expect to find beyond the walls of the University? Darmstadt lies in the heart of Germany in the south of the Rhine-Main region, and the city of Frankfurt and Frankfurt International Airport can be reached by car or train within 30 minutes, and from there, the whole world. However, you don’t have to travel far to unwind. With a near 50 per cent share, Darmstadt is one of Germany’s foremost cities for forestland; it is also one of Germany’s sunniest regions. In close proximity of Darmstadt is the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley with its romantic castles and vineyards, as well as the city of Heidelberg. For a weekend trip you can travel to Berlin, Munich, Cologne, the Alps, or the beaches in the North Sea region. Q. What advice would you give to potential students thinking about applying to Darmstadt, in terms of the admissions process? Darmstadt Business School recommends that all potential students apply in time, as both the visa process and moving to another country are time-consuming. Furthermore, we recommend preparing all documentation prior to application so that it meets the required translation and authentication standards. Our Admission Team is always available to support applicants with any questions they may have and are always happy to advise and guide, where necessary. / Winter 2020

OUTSTANDING MBA EXPERIENCE. GET READY FOR SUCCESS. • Excellent general management program • Tailored to the needs of global markets • Renowned teachers and small groups • International student body • FrankfurtRheinMain Business Hub • Only 20 minutes to Frankfurt / Germany • Attractive terms and conditions WWW.MBA.H-DA.DE













E / Winter 2020


hen placed at the core of your strategy, Purpose can be a driver of future success. It can secure growth by redefining your playing field. It can drive profitability by reconfiguring your value proposition around long-term relationships, not shortterm transactions. It can align and motivate stakeholders inside and outside the company. However, in most companies, this is not the case. Our research has identified three factors that significantly reduce the potential strategic power of Purpose, all relating to how it is defined and managed from the start. The first is that many companies run separate processes; one to define strategy and a second, separate one, to define Purpose. This approach implies that a company will deploy one process to define what they will do – the strategy process, outlining goals, metrics, and activities – and a second to decide what they will say about it – the Purpose process. This is a clear formula for ensuring that Purpose will be nothing but nice words on the wall. From the start, any possibility of putting Purpose at the core of your strategy has been extinguished. The second factor is that many companies approach Purpose only in terms of their longterm ambition, without shaping their shortterm activities. They are driven by delivering immediate results, without considering the role of Purpose in refocusing the core business to create a foundation for the future. In our experience, an extreme focus on shortterm delivery dilutes the potential fuel for / Winter 2020

growth that this initial phase can generate, in terms of resources, mental capacity and excitement for the future. In contrast, successful companies focus on immediate opportunities to free up time, resources and mindset, not just to cut costs and drive efficiency. They identify and address structural barriers that hold the organization, and their leaders, back. In the short-term, they actively prepare the core business for the future, rather than protecting and optimizing based on past successes. Then, in the long-term, the focus shifts to transform the core business in line with the potential that stems from Purpose. Their questions are built around three principles: ● Where can we redefine markets by focusing on our impact? ● What unmet needs can we identify and serve to create new markets, rather than just fighting for market share in old ones? ● How can we engage the passion and power of our organization in creating impact in the future? This requires integrating the strategy and Purpose processes to simultaneously deliver today and shape the future. The third factor is that many companies define their Purpose either by hiring an advertising firm or having their top executives debate and decide upon catchy slogans in a closed room. Usually this approach leads to nice sounding words that have nothing to do with the company’s business potential or its activities and rarely have an impact on the company’s strategic decisions, actions or choices. In our research, the best ideas for defining Purpose, and what it means for the future, come from inside the organization through multiple dialogues between leaders and executives across the organization. Such interactions also lead to a much deeper engagement and excitement about the future. In essence, the three critical steps for putting Purpose at the core of your strategy are: ● INTEGRATE the Purpose and strategy processes, linking from the start what we say to what we do. ● EXPAND simultaneously on the power of Purpose in both the short-term (reshaping the core) and long-term (defining future direction), and ● ENGAGE your people in exploring and defining your Purpose. Purpose at the core of strategy has the potential to significantly impact business, and the world in which it operates, but only if the process for defining it follows these three steps. How are you defining your Purpose?

“Purpose at the core of strategy has the potential to significantly impact business, and the world in which it operates.”


Thomas D. Malnight is Professor of Strategy and General Management at IMD. Ivy Buche is Associate Director for IMD’s Business Transformation Initiative. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Courtesy of IMD Business School. 45


“We believe the merging of academia with industry to be imperative to the preparation of tomorrow’s leaders.”



s the world we live in rapidly changes, the question of how we adequately prepare for the workplace of the future has become a concern for many of us. As traditional jobs and their attendant tasks gradually disappear, it has become imperative for education systems and schools like SBS Swiss Business School to focus on the knowledge and skills of tomorrow, today. Based in Zurich, SBS Swiss Business School has a long tradition in academia, offering high quality, business related academic programs, including executive short courses and a robust suite of MBA options designed to meet the needs of current and future leaders. To this end, the MBA curriculum has been reimagined in order to incorporate “Lifelong Learning” and the constant renewal of knowledge.

What Does Lifelong Learning At SBS Swiss Business School Mean? Knowing where and how to access knowledge, rather than memorizing information, appears to be the new norm. As such, SBS Swiss Business School has seen a recent shift towards analytical learning, whereby MBA participants acquire criticallearning skills via practical-based projects. To acquire these new skills, SBS Swiss Business School has encouraged students to embrace a practical-based curriculum, which is both highly innovative and, at the same time, student-centric. Our goal at SBS Swiss Business School is to not only provide education, but to create the knowledgethinkers of tomorrow by employing a holistic approach and sustainable ideas. In the future, the analytical skills of “knowledge workers” will be in great / Winter 2020

demand, as will sustainable ideas and information, which is why SBS Swiss Business School is well equipped to tackle the issues of tomorrow with a diverse portfolio of courses, academic staff, and a solid business network of live practitioners and corporate organizations. As Dr. Wolfs, SBS Swiss Business School’s Academic Dean, suggests “getting seen on the green may be a challenge for many, however, at SBS we are certainly ready to provide existing and prospective students with knowledge for the future and, at the same time, allow them to fulfill their personal needs of learning during their studies.” What Can Potential Students Expect? Based upon the hallmarks of our MBA curriculum, flexibility and innovation, students are able to: ● Personalize their MBA studies according to their needs ● Gain distinctive knowledge in management and research-consultancy areas ● Create long-term, sustainable ideas for the businesses of tomorrow, and ● Create their own business network by utilizing the SBS Swiss Business School network of international practitioners and business firms.

“As traditional jobs and their attendant tasks gradually disappear, it has become imperative for education systems and schools like SBS Swiss Business School to focus on the knowledge and skills of tomorrow, today.” With the professional expertise and guidance of SBS Swiss Business School’s academic leaders, MBA students can also advance their creative and cognitive skills, in addition to defining their niche within industry. The benefits attached to the latter part of the SBS Swiss Business School learning phase tend to be linked to promotion, increased renumeration, and greater demand for our students’ expertise. Finally, while some institutions may be concerned by the implications attached to partnering with external businesses (loss of control), we believe the merging of academia with industry to be imperative to the preparation of tomorrow’s leaders, which is why we embrace it. It is also a highly enjoyable way to learn.


SBS Swiss Business School is a management institution dedicated to preparing students for careers in the global economy.

�e SBS Executive MBA will transform your future without interfering with your present 1 YEAR – TRIPLE ACCREDITED – TOP RANKED / Winter 2020




here are moments in life when you feel the need to take a leap forward and boost your professional career in order to reach the top. Gone are the years of hard work and training to get your first job only to walk into a working environment you know nothing about. You feel confident in your possibilities and are aware that to achieve your dream you have to bet decisively on top quality training that opens new possibilities and differentiates you from the rest. If you feel identified it is because the time has come to live the most transformative educational experience of your life, an experience that will catapult you into a new world of opportunities. It's time for you to get an MBA, and what better place to live this journey than at Nebrija University in Madrid, Spain. The decision to enrol in an MBA programme is never a quick or simple task; it requires very clear

48 / Winter 2020

“Nebrija University's commitment to academic excellence, training in leading companies, innovation in multidisciplinary programmes, and international training, places us at the top of the most important university rankings.� / Winter 2020


“Nebrija University is one of the few European universities that teaches the same MBA programme, whether in-person, online, or via mixed modality (in-person and online), so you can choose the option that best suits your situation or lifestyle, and in Spanish or English.”


personal and professional goals, and an understanding of how you want your life to be in the coming years. You have to devote time to it and, above all, carefully analyse the different alternatives available. At Nebrija University, we make this process simple for you. You don't have to worry if your previous studies aren't related to business, if you speak Spanish or English, how much time you have, or where you are located. We offer a universal MBA programme, which can be combined with a specialisation based upon your professional preferences. Inside the Nebrija MBA Nebrija University is one of the few European universities that teaches the same MBA programme, whether in-person, online, or via mixed modality (in-person and online), so you can choose the option that best suits your situation or lifestyle, and in Spanish or English; a programme you can join regardless of your previous experience or training, because if there are gaps in your knowledge, we will prepare you in advance with the essential business knowledge you need to study the programme with confidence. During the first semester, which takes place between October and February, our students acquire core business-management knowledge: business strategy, marketing, finance, general management and managerial skills, and process and operations management. The study load in this period totals 30 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits, which are completed with an additional six ECTS in people management and leadership during the second semester. Students continue their training between February and June by selecting one of the following specialtisations: Tourism Business Management, Young Entrepreneurs, Technology Management, Business Creation, and Legal Business. Each specialisation is comprised of four subjects totalling 24 ECTS. The MBA programme also includes an internship (six ECTS) and the preparation and public defence of a master's thesis during the month of June, which involves another six ECTS. Over the course of the programme students work towards 72 ECTS, which enables them not only to earn an MBA, but a Nebrija University diploma corresponding to their specialisation. After completing their official MBA training, students spend a week at Berkeley University (USA) where they have the opportunity to further extend their training experience via an innovation and entrepreneurship programme in the mecca of startups.

The day-to-day of the Nebrija MBA A day on the Nebrija MBA is both intense and, at the same time, very rewarding for our students. The first thing that our students perceive when they arrive at the university campus is the cosmopolitan environment, with students from more than 30 nationalities, which allows for an enriching multicultural experience. Students take their classes in the afternoon and dedicate the morning to either study or the preparation of individual or team work, which will later be presented in class. In addition to the acquisition of new knowledge, the MBA is designed to help students develop professional skills through collaboration and teamwork. The teaching programme is complemented by the active participation of students in the numerous professional activities organised by the professors and the university throughout the course. This provides students with important business exposure and allows them to connect with top executives and entrepreneurs in a constructive environment and in small groups. During the aforementioned period, mandatory for all our students, the student puts into practice everything they’ve learned in a real business setting. It is a time of intense work and high demand, similar to what they will experience when they return to their jobs. The Nebrija method Nebrija University stands out in the rankings for its high performance, a consequence of our differentiating elements: academic excellence, employability, and international orientation. Nebrija University's commitment to academic excellence, training in leading companies, innovation in multidisciplinary programmes, and international training, places us at the top of the most important university rankings. Our MBA + Business Creation Expert programme is in Eduniversal’s Top 100 Ranking of the Best Masters in the World for Entrepreneurship. Nebrija University is also one of the top Spanish universities in the field of teaching, according to the latest edition of the U-Ranking, a significant domestic ranking and benchmark. This is further supported by QS Stars’ international ranking, which awarded Nebrija University five stars, the highest score possible in teaching, internationalisation and online teaching. All of this is possible thanks to our commitment to a model based on quality teaching and research: key principles in the development of individual talent and professional integration. This approach is / Winter 2020

complemented by our philosophy of learning by doing, and a firm commitment between the university and the external companies we work with when it comes to the development of training, which makes the Nebrija MBA a unique university experience. Madrid, the ideal destination for students The Nebrija University campus is located in the heart of Madrid in a prestigious university district a few meters from the main commercial and tourist arteries of the capital. Madrid is a cosmopolitan city that prides itself on being one of the most welcoming in the world, and where making friends and going out for fun at night is entrenched in the culture of its inhabitants. But not everything in Madrid is fun. The city is also the nerve centre of Europe’s cultural and artistic circuits. The city is full of art and culture with a wide range of worldclass museums and cultural centres. All of this, together with its excellent connections to other Spanish cities and the good weather conditions that the capital has throughout the year, makes Madrid the destination chosen by thousands of university students every year; a unique opportunity that you can take advantage of now if you decide to come and live the Nebrija experience.


Francisco Javier Navarro is a Professor of Tourism at Nebrija University.

Discover our MBA winter collection Awarded as one of the best Business Schools in the world, Nebrija University has a wide range of MBAs. MBA for Young Talents MBA + Expert in Technology Management MBA + Expert Degree in Company Creation MBA + Expert Degree in Corporate Legal Affairs and Legal Compliance MBA + Expert in Tourism Business Management / Winter 2020 100% English in Madrid.


52 / Winter 2020


Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common: They don’t see themselves as heroes.


ot all heroes wear capes,” the saying goes, and the workplace is no exception. If you take the time to look, you’ll find that acts of selflessness abound in your organisation – from informal mentoring to planning birthday or retirement parties. Are you a workplace hero? If you answered no, that may increase your chances of actually being one / Winter 2020


“Those who seem to work tirelessly for others will tend not to see themselves as especially praiseworthy, not because they are saintly but because choosing to engage in prosocial behaviour changes one’s frame of mind.”

My forthcoming paper in Social Psychological and Personality Science explores the innate humility that accompanies heroism in all areas of life (not just the workplace). One of its findings is that there is a stark distinction between how we see heroism and how heroes view themselves. The qualities that most inspire us in stories about heroes – taxing sacrifice, persistence in the face of risk or great difficulty – are largely missing from the tales heroes tell about their own actions. Heroes in their own words I started by looking at the most celebrated heroes of all: literal life-savers. I collected 42 news reports from around the world describing their actions, which included rescuing a passenger from a burning bus and stopping a gun-toting terrorist from carrying out an attack. The articles also contained interview statements from the heroes. As a representative example, Didar Hossain, a man who helped 36 people evacuate a collapsing building in Bangladesh, said that he was only “an ordinary person” glad of the chance to be of service. Participants recruited through Mechanical Turk (MTurk) were asked to compare the amount of credit heroes claimed for themselves to their just deserts. Quite consistently, the participants felt the interviewees to be more heroic, admirable and extraordinary than they gave themselves credit for. Everyday heroes are self-effacing How does this relate to the rest of us, whose good deeds don’t make headlines in the press? In my next experiment, I asked a group of MTurk participants to write about a heroic act they had performed or witnessed someone else perform. The act could be anything, minor or profound, as long as it showed courage or nobility and was accomplished for


someone else’s benefit. The participants then rated their own accounts for both the level of heroism displayed and the burden assumed by the hero in the course of carrying out the deed. In a second step, the writings were rated on the same attributes by a separate group of participants, i.e. not the authors. Results showed that even everyday heroes sold themselves short, compared to how they were viewed by others. Moreover, an even bigger bump in perceived heroism and burden arose when people rated an action they had personally witnessed, as opposed to reading about it. My third and final study tasked participants to watch YouTube videos of real-world life-saving events, such as a father “saving the kids” from an oncoming car. Some were first prompted to put themselves in the hero’s shoes; the rest simply experienced the video as the record of a stranger’s actions. The same basic phenomenon cropped up here too. Even for imagined feats of courage, doers gave themselves less credit than onlookers. The burden of heroism My results suggest that a large part of the “self-other difference” stems from the gap in perceived burden reported by participants. In taking prosocial action, one’s attention strays from the possible costs to oneself to the benefit the deed may provide to others. Outside observers, however, have a different view of the situation – they can see the father, the children and the car bearing down on them. Neither the hero nor the observer is necessarily “wrong” in their respective judgments regarding burden, but their different perspectives lead heroes to view their own self-sacrifice as less burdensome than observers presume. / Winter 2020

False modesty? Of course, there is a more cynical explanation for heroes’ apparent modesty: It could be insincere. They could be feigning humility in order to curry social favour. Crowing about one’s accomplishments, after all, could be seen as vulgar or arrogant, not the “done thing”. In my experiments, I tested this possibility by asking participants to complete a social desirability survey asking whether they had committed mundane but common transgressions, such as gossiping or stealing office supplies from the workplace. The logic is that all of us have committed these small transgressions, but some of us are so sensitive about our self-image as to not admit it. If participants’ self-assessments of their own heroism were indeed rooted in a desire to appear socially acceptable, then the participants most sensitive about their self-image should also be the most likely to minimise their own heroic acts. Yet there was no such pattern in the data. Implications My findings imply that what separates heroes from the rest of us may be more about perspective than anything else. Those who seem to work tirelessly for others will tend not to see themselves as especially praiseworthy,

not because they are saintly but because choosing to engage in prosocial behaviour changes one’s frame of mind. For managers, then, the best way to encourage more helpfulness among your team may not be to reward heroic behaviour with heaps of public praise. Instead, try to create more opportunities for employees to commit acts of everyday heroism. This naturally happens in environments characterised by emotional safety, where people feel comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities and struggles. Honest sharing opens the door for others to step in and help, especially when employees know each other well enough to generate mutual empathy. So, as a corollary of emotional safety, managers should look for appropriate ways for team members to learn about each other as human beings. Finally, workplace heroes should be given a platform, not a pedestal. Let them share their stories in order to show that being there for others does not feel as burdensome as we often think. Bridging the perceived distance between us and our role models is deeply empowering and conducive to change, as it also brings us closer to our ideal selves. Dimming the halo of our commonplace heroes can therefore be the most inspiring step of all.


Nadav Klein is an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This article is republished courtesy of INSEAD Knowledge ( Copyright INSEAD 2020. / Winter 2020


56 / Winter 2020



oon after Brian Chesky graduated in 2007 with a degree in industrial design, he moved from Rhode Island to San Francisco. He was shocked by the cost of living, at one point owing $1,200 for his share of the rent for an apartment, but with only $1,000 in his bank account. Chesky saw an ad for an international design conference being held in the city, which mentioned that all the nearby hotels were completely booked up. He immediately saw an opportunity: designers needed a place to stay, and he needed rent money. So he set up a website and advertised that his roommates had space to accommodate three visitors, if they would sleep on inflatable air beds. “In the startup What would later become Airbnb was world, it isn’t born. The following year, Chesky necessarily the was reading an article about the best product that Democratic National Convention, which was due to be held in Denver. ultimately wins How, the article wondered, would Denver, which had some 28,000 hotel out. Rather, it’s rooms at the time, accommodate the best way about 80,000 convention goers? The entrepreneur immediately to solve the recognized that this could be a problem.” big break for his fledgling startup. “Obama supporters [could] host other Obama supporters from all over the world,” Chesky recalled three years later. “All we did was become part of the story.” As well as being a memorable origin story that explains their name (air mattresses were the air in Airbnb), this is an instructive lesson in entrepreneurship. Chesky and his cofounders identified a twofold problem—lack of affordable accommodations and sky-high rents—and thought creatively of how they might be able to solve it and make some money at the same time. In the startup world, it isn’t necessarily the best product that ultimately wins out. Rather, it’s the best way to solve the / Winter 2020


“By retaining a problem-solving lens, successful startups are able to adapt and troubleshoot as they go along.”


problem. Once you do that, you can figure out how to scale it. Too many startups try to do things the other way around. They develop technology that they think will solve a problem, rather than first identifying and understanding the problem and then thinking creatively about how to solve it. Typically, it matters very little that the technology is proprietary, clever, cool, or new: without a problem to solve, it will struggle to find a market, and, therefore, to become a profitable venture. Airbnb is far from alone in being among the Silicon Valley startups that we think of as technology companies but which began with very little technology, and, instead, had a strong focus on what I would call getting orders. The correct way to think about these startups is not as tech companies but, more accurately, as problem-solving companies. Where they have used technology, it has been done to aid the solution to those problems, not the other way around. Uber is another such example. Like Airbnb, it grew out of a problem that one of its cofounders had experienced directly. Not long before Uber’s founding, Garrett Camp and a few friends decided to hire a private driver for New Year’s Eve. The bill had come to $800, which struck Camp as too high. His solution was that sharing the cost could bring the price down. But Uber realized that the more immediate problem than cost was how difficult it was to hail a taxi cab at certain times. So in the first few years after it launched, in 2010, the company went after sporting events in New York City and San Francisco, where it was really hard to get a cab. At that time, all the cars it used were black luxury automobiles, and the price of a ride was more than a taxi. It had an app, but on the other end of the app, things were very low tech. Like a taxi company, it had real people coordinating with the drivers about how to pick up all its orders. The danger of starting with technology, rather than a problem, is that startups can quickly overbuild, spending too much time and resources on perfecting the technology itself rather than focusing on problemsolving. By retaining a problem-solving lens, successful startups are able to adapt and troubleshoot as they go along, rather than continue to tinker with their technology or try to build further scale. Early on, Airbnb noticed it had a smaller market than it had expected in New York City compared with other locations. The company realized that one problem was that the photos that went with the postings did not make the accommodations look welcoming. Again, the solution wasn’t based on technology. Airbnb simply hired photographers to take great

pictures of these New York apartments. This in turn helped grow that and other markets, as people could see that better photos meant a better chance of getting bookings, and at better rates. Another early challenge for Airbnb was its lack of inventory. It didn’t have a lot of listings in some of the markets where it was operating. The solution it came up with was to limit how many options a search turned up. The website would offer just three places in order to get a visitor interested. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, employees were calling around trying to find more places to stay in that city to give visitors more options. Again, a tech company was employing a low-tech solution by keeping its attention on problem-solving. Startups that aren’t focused on problemsolving often find they aren’t generating as much revenue as they would like. In many cases, they respond by trying to sell the same thing, but harder. They hire a seasoned head of sales from a big company, assuming, “If that person was successful with them, they’re bound to bring us success too.” In such situations, that person typically leaves within a year, because the product still hasn’t yet found customers prepared to pay to solve a problem. Problem-solving startups find it easier to learn, and to adapt their offerings to the market. In the early days of a venture, entrepreneurs are trying to figure out what their product is really all about. Every early sales call has two parts: first, you’re trying to get the order; and second, you’re trying to learn what you need to do in the future to get the order. This is an important distinction. In many cases, startups don’t actually know why their customers bought from them. Some assume they know why, but don’t ask. Others really are not interested in the reasons. This is a mistake. Asking good questions, listening, and learning are critical to long-term success. A lot of entrepreneurs think about their startups on the revenue side, the same way they think about product development. If you think about developing software, it’s a linear process. You can figure out your requirements: you’ll develop a minimum viable product, tweak it, come out of beta testing, make your changes, and then go to general release. We can put a time frame on all of this. Unless we’re breaking brand-new ground, such as making a carbon-fiber aircraft for the first time, most software development has two main inputs, time and money, so it can typically be well defined in a linear fashion. This is why entrepreneurs try to make their revenue models linear too. If an entrepreneur knows her product will be released six months from now, she knows it’ll be in beta in four months. She calculates that two months in, / Winter 2020

she will need to have a head of marketing so the company can start to define the leads and get the process going. A month later, she needs a head of sales, to bring on sales reps and train them, so that within the first 30 days of the product’s general release, her marketing team is generating leads, and she’s got 40 salespeople selling, and we all hit our numbers, and we’re a big success. But in reality, generating revenue for a startup follows a process that resembles the Customer Development cycle, a model developed by Stanford’s Steve Blank. Blank identified that customer development is an iterative rather than a linear process. Very few businesses finish where they started, which means at some point, they were wrong about something. In order to get a good fit, the best startups end up in an iterative process involving what they are offering and to whom they are offering it. That means their first customers may not be the customers they really want. They might have to tweak their targets to get the right target and alter their value proposition a little bit, all to get a good fit. This needn’t be what we typically think of as a pivot, a big moment where we started out selling meals and ended up selling bikes. Instead, what make our product offering stronger are lots of small tweaks that shape the offering and the way we sell it. None of this should be understood to / Winter 2020

mean that if you have an idea, develop some great technology, and ultimately fail, the idea is necessarily a bad one. Take Webvan, the online grocery business founded in 1996 by Louis Borders, the cofounder of Borders Group. Webvan raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors such as Sequoia Capital and SoftBank, and through an initial public offering. It spent $1 billion building unbelievably efficient robotic distribution centers all around the United States, plus a fleet of delivery trucks, so it could deliver within 24 hours at low cost. But the business needed a ton of volume to stay alive, and ultimately, the market wasn’t ready to buy groceries online, because not enough shoppers had broadband internet at home, and because they weren’t comfortable transacting online or buying groceries on the web. So Webvan went bankrupt in 2001, not because the idea was terrible (companies such as Instacart are proving that it wasn’t), but because the market just wasn’t ready. They had put their faith in technology, scale, and disruption, and had failed to focus enough on problem-solving. Technology is a tool, not a vessel. It is only useful to the extent that it can get you to where you want to go. That destination must be meeting a need that customers will pay for. Better to start your venture with finding and serving that need.

“Technology is a tool, not a vessel. It is only useful to the extent that it can get you to where you want to go.”


Michael D. Alter is clinical professor of entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Courtesy of the Chicago Booth Review.




60 / Winter 2020

“It is a cause for celebration that big, publicly owned companies (and well-funded start-ups) are seeking to address the big societal challenges.�

Mainstream companies often fail to serve critical societal needs when profits and impact do not align. The answer? Employ business just as a tool, without taking profit maximisation as a constraint. / Winter 2020


“Decoupling business from profit maximisation is exactly what makes the social enterprise model uniquely relevant.”


t the intersection of business and impact, trade-offs are no longer a trending topic. Instead, buzzwords like “creating shared value” and “doing well by doing good” dominate the discourse. The recent statement from the Business Roundtable¹ pledging simultaneous fidelity to stakeholder and shareholder value shows how far this movement has advanced. It is a cause for celebration that big, publicly owned companies (and well-funded start-ups) are seeking to address the big societal challenges. But if a positive impact can always be achieved without financial compromises, the organisational form called “social enterprise” is starting to look rather old-fashioned and out of date. Are social enterprises still relevant? The answer is a resounding yes! Business as a tool Many people consider profit maximisation a defining characteristic of business. But business is just a tool. Nothing stops us from employing the tool in a way that prioritises important but neglected societal needs over making as much money as we can. Decoupling business from profit maximisation is exactly what makes the social enterprise model uniquely relevant. Impact and profits can indeed often be in alignment. However, there are situations where a trade-off is unavoidable. Charity helps, but purely grant-based models can only go so far. This is where social enterprises come in. They push the frontier of marketbased approaches in extreme contexts, taking on issues that mainstream companies would view as unprofitable or too risky. Social enterprises put impact first, while still harnessing the power of market forces and relying on the price mechanism to efficiently and effectively serve the needs of their beneficiaries. The beneficiaries, in turn, feel treated with dignity and respect as exchange partners rather than as passive recipients of help. At the same time, having a revenue stream makes a social enterprise model (when possible) more financially sustainable than relying purely on grants. Proximity Designs Myanmar-based Proximity Designs demonstrates the power of the model. The social enterprise dates from 2004, long before Myanmar opened its doors to the world. Its co-founders, Debbie Aung Din and Jim Taylor, decided to settle in Aung Din’s birth nation after years of non-profit work in the United States, development work in Cambodia, and policy work in Indonesia.


In December 2019, Aung Din and Taylor visited INSEAD’s Asia campus as guest speakers at the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme (ISEP) and our first-ever “SDG Week” (organised by the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society). Aung Din shared how they had set up Proximity Designs in response to the deprivation they observed in rural Myanmar. “There weren’t any products and services to support smallholder farmers, and they did not have access to knowledge or finance either.” Applying the latest design thinking principles, Proximity came up with contextappropriate irrigation products to spare Burmese farmers the punishing labour of toting water one bucket at a time. It made sure that its products were affordable even for the poorest farmers, and its distribution network reached even remote areas that were not as profitable to serve. Rather than being wary of competition, Proximity welcomed it. A Stanford case study documents how, when low-priced mechanised treadle pumps from China started posing a competitive threat to Proximity’s human-powered pumps, Aung Din and Taylor said they were “pleased” that some farmers might now enjoy even greater productivity. For its part, Proximity has been responding to the evolving farmer needs and competitive landscape by introducing new kinds of products (such as drip irrigation). To further its impact, Proximity has also developed two lines of business beyond its irrigation products, while continuing to maintain its razor-sharp focus on the poor farmers of Myanmar rather than expanding further just for the sake of growing faster. The first of Proximity’s two new businesses is a microfinance lending unit targeting smallholder farmers. Unlike standardised microfinance models that have been profitable but found to have limited evidence of impact, Proximity’s model puts impact first by adapting to the specific needs of the farmers. For example, Proximity’s loan repayment schedules take into account the cash needs and availability of farmers based on their harvest cycle. Despite putting the farmers’ needs first, this business unit is a self-sustaining and profitable entity that is now even attracting outside investors. The second of Proximity’s new businesses is farmer advisory services, which involves helping farmers adopt best practices in terms of seed selection and fertiliser use, for example. The revenue streams in this business are hard to build, but Proximity sees this work as critical from the point of view of the deep impact. It is also hoping to ultimately / Winter 2020

realise business benefits like synergies with its microfinance business. “When we are seen by the farmer as providing extremely critical knowledge of pest and disease, and how to handle all their risks, it protects the crop and also the loan,” Aung Din said. Contrasting Proximity’s approach with that of for-profit companies targeting farmers, Taylor explained, “Their shareholders want to see returns on investment, so we can do cutting-edge things conventional companies can’t… We can take on more risk, and so have been somewhat of a market maker.” Funding social enterprises Social enterprises can rarely promise high rates of return to investors, so they often need to seek grants or concessionary funding to complement their revenue streams. But getting support from sophisticated funders requires not only feel-good stories but compelling evidence of real impact to justify the financial compromise. Proximity’s donors and investors are convinced that supporting poor farmers through Proximity’s business model produces a multiplier effect on the incomes of farmers. “We can confidently say that we take a dollar of donated capital and generate $15 of increased income for farmers,” Aung Din noted in reference to some of Proximity’s cutting-edge projects for which they have quantified the impact. Another example of making a quantitative case is Vision Spring, a social enterprise that relies on a US$5 subsidy per customer to provide access to eyeglasses at affordable prices for low-income populations. According to an independent academic study involving a randomised control trial in Assam (India), tea pickers saw their income increase by over 20 percent thanks to productivity gains attributable to eyeglasses. With worker incomes in the range of US$2 per day, this implies more than US$200 in incremental income over the two-year lifespan of a pair of glasses (even accounting for their cost). Extrapolating from this, VisionSpring estimates that a US$1 subsidy might generate over US$40 in income for the poor. Estimates like the above involve assumptions and caveats, so the exact numbers should be interpreted

with caution. But just going through the process ensures more rigorous thinking about how a social enterprise really creates unique societal value. Convinced that VisionSpring is indeed realising significant impact per dollar of subsidy it gets, noted U.S.-based eyeglasses company Warby Parker has been working with VisionSpring as its primary partner for its “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” programme. Another question worth asking is whether a social enterprise model truly improves upon existing charity models possibly meeting the same need. For example, before providing a concessionary loan to A to Z Textile Mills (Tanzania) to produce long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets, the impact investor Acumen ensured that the cost effectiveness of achieving the prospective outcome (malaria prevention) through the loan significantly exceeded that attainable through a grant to UNICEF’s existing malaria programmes. To boldly go where companies fear to tread By choosing impact rather than pursuit of profit as their primary value, social enterprises serve societal needs that the “invisible hand” of markets neglects. Doing so involves developing deep contextual familiarity through careful observation and listening, as well as cocreating innovative solutions in close collaboration with the communities that are being served. The “business case” for going through this rests not as much on the money to be made as on the impact that could be achieved. As societal norms, expectations and regulations evolve, perhaps one day mainstream companies will start delivering on all societal priorities. Until that day, however, we do need social enterprises that help realise the full potential of business as a force for good.

¹ The Business Roundtable, an organisation of CEOs – including those of Bank of America, BCG, Deloitte, John Deere, Oracle and Walmart, to

name but a few – is a non-profit that promotes business-friendly public policies. / Winter 2020


Singh is a Professor of Strategy and the Paul Dubrule Chaired Professor of Sustainable Development at INSEAD. He also co-directs the INSEAD Social Entrepreneurship Programme (ISEP). ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This article is republished courtesy of INSEAD Knowledge (http://knowledge. Copyright INSEAD 2020. 63

n Femi Agbato n Michael D. Alter n University of South Australia

n University of Chicago (Booth) n Anton Brown n Ivy Buche n Robert Burrus

n Mary Hames

n Nadav Klein

n Tracy MacDonald n Thomas D. Malnight n Macquarie Graduate School of Management


IST OF CONTRIBUTORS n Nivine Richie n Alon Rozen

n Francisco Javier Navarro

n Ralf Schellhase n École des Ponts Business School n European University Business School n IMD Business School n SBS Swiss Business School n Keith Schroeder n Jasjit Singh n Lan Snell

n Hana Vo 64

n The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

n Darmstadt University n Kennesaw State University n Nebrija University

n Knowledge@ wharton n University of North Carolina Wilmington n Bert Wolfs / Winter 2020

— Design your future Make it your business to shape the world with an MBA from RMIT. To get ahead in today’s world of business, you need more than knowledge. We understand this, and that’s why at RMIT we collaborate with industry leaders from across the globe to create MBA programs that offer unique industry insight and experiences that go beyond the expected. So if you’re ready to embrace the future and challenge the old way of doing business, choose an MBA program that puts design thinking, creativity and collaboration first. RMIT is located in Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city.* Choose RMIT. To find out more visit *Economist IU 2016

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