CEO Magazine - Volume 34

Page 1



















2 / Spring 2021

Executive MBA

#1 EMBA in Georgia CEO Magazine, 2020 | #3 EMBA in the U.S. CEO Magazine, 2020

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environment. / Winter 2021 CEOad_EMBA_July2020.indd 1

3 7/16/20 5:37






4 / Spring 2021











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:


A Flexible, Top-Ranked MBA tailored to you! Learn online or in-person and customize your coursework with specialisations in: • Accounting • Business Analytics • Industrial/Organizational Psychology • Supply Chain Management

No 1. in Quality of Teaching Poets & Quants

Top 100 Best Online MBA Program U.S. News & World Report

Best Business School to Earn an MBA The Princeton Review

Top 20 Most Innovative Small College Business Departments Business Research Guide

AACSB Accredited

Accreditation earned by less than five percent of business schools

Get started at Finish in as little as 12 months / Winter 2021




llow me to start from the end and then circle back to close the loop on the question in the title of this article. We can all agree that things have changed due to the current pandemic. However, we can also agree that it is difficult to know what has changed durably (meaning we will never go back to the way things were), what has changed temporarily (meaning things have changed but we will revert back to the way we did things “before”), and what will change a bit (meaning things won’t quite go back to the way they were but they will resemble the way things were). And herein lies the challenge for the providers of executive education - figuring out which changes will fit in which category – in other words, the billion-dollar question remains “what form will the next normal take in the years ahead in the industry?” Next normal versus old usual It does not really matter whether you are an optimist, realist or pessimist, or whom you vote for; by now, you have realised that the next normal is not going to bear too much resemblance to the old usual, i.e., to the way things were before Covid-19 and the coronavirus pandemic. This is true for education, in general, and just as true, if not truer, for executive education. While it is rather clear, from study after study, that online learning for K-12 has “underwhelmed”, the jury is still out on its adequacy for executive education. My personal take is that the growing mix of online tools, together with the growing expertise of facilitating online, can make synchronous online learning very powerful. And pedagogical design for asynchronous learning has made huge strides in the last few years in both experience design and user experience.


In terms of recent experience, the entire executive education ecosystem – business schools, training institutions, universities, consulting firms, professors, experts, executives, HR directors, students, executives, trainers, trainees, EdTech providers and EdTech startups – realises that the pandemic has changed things quite significantly. For many, the coronavirus is / Spring 2021

“As best practices are shared, as existing videoconferencing solutions improve and new – made for education – videoconferencing solutions emerge, we can expect a steep learning curve (pun intended) and the quality of online learning to improve dramatically in the short and medium terms.”

all a bit lacking in the answer department and in seeing the future with any kind of clarity.

considered an unforeseeable and unlikely black swan event, the rare occurrence that happens once a century. It has shaken up the education industry, threatened the livelihoods of many people, as well as the survival of many companies and institutions. Others see the pandemic as an acceleration event, an external disturbance that has simply hastened the advent of the digital transformation that was going to happen regardless. No matter which camp you are in, we are all on a relatively equal footing: everyone has lots of questions and, despite the affected confidence of some and the brave faces of others, we are / Spring 2021

The unbundling and rebundling of executive education What we do see is an interesting side effect of the pandemic - the unbundling of Executive Education. Today, as compared to pre-2020, most pundits understand that Executive Education is a combination of content, skills (hard and soft) and knowledge; experiences and entertainment; networking and mating; employment and pre-employment opportunities (recruitment, internships, apprenticeships, consulting projects); certification and quality signalling; and (one can hope) learning and personal development. An emerging understanding is that these elements can be unbundled as well as rebundled in various and creative ways. Another insight is that some elements have become commoditised (content), while others resist commoditisation (networking). And, finally, we are discovering that some elements work quite well online, some don’t (networking once again, in addition to certain events). On the supply side, there has been a big bang as many EdTech players are offering unbundled elements separately with players/platforms specialising in content, access to experts, mentoring, specialised support, community/alumni management, gamification/serious games, micro-skilling, validation of learning, hardware (smartboards, smart classrooms), software (VLEs, LMS, SMS), various forms 9

“It will not be easy for many to make the switch to digital-only or digital-first, but the next normal will require this digital transformation both from the front-line providers of executive education (professors, facilitators, consultants) and their institutions.”

of certification, etc. It seems this atomisation of executive education has room to run, at least until the clear winners start emerging – at which time we can expect a cycle of consolidation to begin. But this cycle looks to have a long runway, as can be attested by the billions being poured into EdTech by angel investors, VCs, and PE firms. In 2019, global EdTech private investment was estimated by HolonIQ at USD 7 billion, and according to Metaari, that figure goes up to 18.7 billion if you include learning technology suppliers. Still on the supply side, while some faculty, professors, consultants, and experts are not quite keen or talented online facilitators, many of the same have adapted quite well to the online or hybrid learning environments that are the mainstay of the industry at present. There has even been an explosion of training for teachers and facilitators on how to design and deliver courses online. As best practices are shared, as existing videoconferencing solutions improve and new – made for education – videoconferencing solutions emerge, we can expect a steep learning curve (pun intended) and the quality 10

of online learning to improve dramatically in the short and medium terms. Changing customer perspectives, behaviour and expectations Switching to the demand side, we are seeing multiple and sometimes contradictory shifts in perspectives, in behaviour and in expectations among students, customers and clients. Let’s start with the obvious – telework. In France, before the pandemic, telework (with the very rare exception) was not an acceptable practice. Fast forward to June 2020, and a recent study by BCG and the National Association of HR Directors showed that 85% of French HR directors believed telework was here to stay and for a continually increasing number of job positions. While this number will vary from country to country, we can be pretty sure that most businesses have now factored in that people will be teleworking even in a post-Covid future. If we extrapolate from a distributed staff, this would seem to imply that on-site training will be increasingly “challenged” if not completely supplanted by remote training. It will either be too expensive or too impractical to bring remote teams together for most training and, thus, we can expect much future training to remain durably online. On-site training will probably remain the exception rather than the rule. We may even see a multi-local hybrid approach emerging in large companies with, for example, teams in different regions physically in the same room even though the training is being delivered online. From our experience in France, these same HR directors, who were largely very wary of online training until the pandemic hit, now see online training as an opportunity to both reduce costs and expand the scale of training. At École des Ponts Business School, in the months following the first lockdown, we had very tough discussions with HR Directors and their CEOs about redesigning training for today’s reality as they saw the value in training more in the off-site, culture-building, motivational and networking dimensions than in the content and learning they offered. Initially, many wanted to “wait out the storm”, / Spring 2021

and only now, a year later, are they coming to realise that it will probably take another year or two before running an off-site training for large groups is once again possible and, or desirable. In terms of off-site training, business schools that have built their brand and profitability on off-site executive training have been terribly challenged over the last year as demand has often dwindled together with the customer’s willingness to pay on-theground prices for a digital experience lacking the usual networking opportunities. Many universities have had similar push-back from their student-customers who feel paying the same tuition for an online and off-campus experience is not justified, even if the diploma is the same. Many wonder out loud if they are paying for a diploma or an experience, and if the experience is degraded, will the value of the diploma follow? In respect to graduate students and executive education, our experience has been… well educative. We have experienced very different reactions in our campuses in Paris, Casablanca, Shanghai and Beijing. We transitioned to online-only a mere two weeks after the first lockdown in Paris in March 2020. Initially, in Paris, most of our students did not want to transition to an online delivery mode. Our school is based in Paris, and a big attraction for our participants is the city of Paris and the experience they can have together in the city of lights after and between classes. However, they agreed to try. After the first courses online went over well, they accepted the move online, not out of a desire for online courses, but in the name of pragmatics (no one knew how long the crisis was going to last) and in finishing the programme according to schedule. In Morocco, we had a slightly different experience. Our students there actively voiced their antagonism to moving courses online. As nearly all of our faculty who teach in Morocco fly in from abroad, the pandemic did not offer us the option of teaching on-site. It took a lot of persuasion and several months of a growing pandemic for them to realise that it was either online or finish the programme in two or three years. They too agreed to try, and we agreed, whenever possible, to offer courses in hybrid mode, i.e., the participants would gather in the classroom with a local facilitator while the international faculty delivered the course online. In China, we had very different experiences depending on the location. In Shanghai, where we deliver a DBA with Shanghai Jao Tong University, students accepted online learning without a shrug. New normal, let’s go. In Beijing, however, where we deliver a very high-end Executive MBA with Tsinghua / Spring 2021

University, after one try with online, the participants – mostly top executives, CEOs and founders – announced that they would not accept any additional online courses with international faculty. They were willing to wait as long as necessary for the situation to normalise. In terms of my experience teaching undergraduate students in Paris, I can share with you the following. Undergrads were initially very indulgent and engaged at the start of the pandemic until the end of 20192020 academic year. They understood the transition was made in haste and that not all professors could change their courses on the fly. They accepted the same lectures online as they had in class. This year, students are more demanding, less indulgent, more easily distracted and, for many, less present. They insist on a different and better experience and vote with their course evaluations and presence in class. Seeing this trend emerge, I decided I needed to stay ahead of the curve and renew my toolbox. Over the last four months, I have been taking advanced training in online facilitation (“E-Volve” with the Adaptive Leadership Network at the Harvard Kennedy School). I realised that I now need to approach classes differently. Of course, I need a full array of Zoom enhancers (Jamboard, Miro, Attendant, …) to keep students energised and engaged. But beyond that, I need to design for energy and engagement. I need to think of each class as an experience and need to apply the principles of experience design. How do you start a session? How can you leverage the chat box effectively rather than it being a source of distraction and side conversations? How can you use plenary versus breakout rooms most effectively? How do you establish trust? How do you create a participative environment? Questions I never considered for my in-class sessions are now the essential elements in my class preparation. For me, this is the next normal: adapting the learning experience to the digital environment and adapting to the digital environment. That said, this is a learned and acquired skill; it is not intuitive. It requires training and an open mind. It will not be easy for many to make the switch to digital-only or digital-first, but the next normal will require this digital transformation both from the front-line providers of executive education (professors, facilitators, consultants) and their institutions. I would wish them all good luck, but it is rather a question of training, of having a growth mindset, and of demonstrating the grit to be willing to adapt as the changes that lie ahead reveal themselves as transient, partial or here to stay. Next normal here we come!

“Many wonder out loud if they are paying for a diploma or an experience, and if the experience is degraded, will the value of the diploma follow?”


Alon Rozen is the Dean and Professor of Innovation at École des Ponts Business School in Paris, France. 11



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. Given the current climate, and in the absence of meaningful data, scores have been expressed as an average based upon data received over a four-year period (20172019/20).

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:


10 %

15 %

20 %

25 %

30 %

35 %

*EMBA Weighting: Work experience and international diversity are adjusted accordingly. **Online MBA Weighting: Delivery mode and class size are removed.

EUROPEAN MBA RANKINGS Business School Country AIX Marseille Graduate School of Management France Aston Business School UK Audencia Business school France Brunel Business School UK Business School Lausanne Switzerland Business School Netherlands The Netherlands City University: Cass UK Darmstadt Business School Germany Durham University Business School UK EBS Business School Germany École des Ponts Business School France Emlyon Business School France ESADE Business School Spain EU Business School Germany, Spain and Switzerland GBSB Global Business School Spain Grenoble Graduate School of Business France HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management Germany IFM University Switzerland ISEG Portugal

3.8% 0%


Business School Country Lancaster Management School UK Leeds University Business School UK Maastricht School of Management The Netherlands Nebrija Business School Spain Newcastle University Business School UK Nyenrode Business University The Netherlands Politecnico di Milano School of Management Italy SBS Swiss Business School Switzerland The Lisbon MBA Catolica|Nova* Portugal Toulouse Business School France Toulouse Business School (with IMM Bangalore) India Trinity College Dublin School of Business Republic of Ireland UBIS University Switzerland United International Belgium, Italy Japan, Business Schools The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland University of Exeter UK University of Liverpool Management School UK UK University of Sheffield Management School

*Some data unavailable

12 / Spring 2021

NORTH AMERICAN MBA RANKINGS Business School American University: Kogod Appalachian State University* Ashland University Auburn University: Harbert Baylor University: Hankamer Bentley University: McCallum Boston University: Questrom Butler University California State University-Chico California State University-Long Beach California State University-East Bay California State University-San Bernardino College of William and Mary: Mason Colorado Technical University Concordia University Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins Drake University Florida International University* Florida Southern College School of Business Fordham University George Washington University Georgia State University: Robinson Gonzaga University* HEC Montréal Hofstra University: Zarb* Hult Internatonal Business School Indiana University: Kelley Jacksonville University* Kennesaw State University Kent State University Loyola Marymount University Marquette University McMaster University: DeGroote Oakland University Pepperdine University: Graziadio Queens University of Charlotte Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Lally Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders Saint Joseph's University: Haub Seattle University: Albers Simon Fraser University: Beedie Suffolk University: Sawyer Texas A&M University-College Station: Mays Texas Christian University: Neeley Texas State University: McCoy* The Global MBA (Dongbei University of Finance & Economics, Technische Hochschule Koeln, University of North Florida and University of Warsaw )

University of Akron

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 Canada North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America Canada North America North America North America North America North America North America North America North America Canada North America North America North America North America North America North America North America Canada North America North America North America North America China, Germany, North America and Poland North America


Business School University of Alabama: Manderson University of Alberta University of Baltimore University of California at Davis University of California-San Diego: Rady University of Cincinnati: Lindner* University of Delaware: Lerner University of Denver: Daniels University of Hawaii-Manoa: Shidler University of Kentucky: Gatton University of Louisiana at Lafayette University of Louisville* University of Maine University of Massachusetts-Boston University of Massachusetts-Lowell University of Massachusetts-Amherst: Isenberg University of Memphis University of Michigan-Flint* University of Nebraska-Omaha University of New Mexico: Anderson* University of North Alabama University of North Carolina-Charlotte: Belk University of North Carolina-Wilmington: Cameron University of Oklahoma: Price University of Oregon: Lundquist University of Pittsburgh: Katz University of Portland: Pamplin University of Richmond: Robins 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 Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Lubar Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Tech: Pamplin Walsh College Willamette University: Atkinson Xavier University

Country North America Canada 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 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 North America North America North America North America North America North America North America

TIER TWO Bryant University* Fairfield University* Iowa State University Northwest Missouri State University University of North Texas University of San Diego*

North America North America North America North America North America North America *Some data unavailable

REST OF THE WORLD MBA RANKINGS Business School Auckland Institute of Studies Central Queensland University Griffith University IAE Business School INCAE Business School* La Trobe University Lagos Business School Macquarie Graduate School of Management Massey University National Chiao Tung University RMIT University Swinburne University of Technology The American University in Cairo / Spring 2021

Country New Zealand Australia Australia Argentina Costa Rica Australia Nigeria Australia New Zealand Taiwan Australia Australia Egypt


Business School Country The Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) Mexico The University of Adelaide Australia The Univerisity of Newcastle Australia Australia Torrens University Australia Australia University of Canterbury New Zealand University of Chile FEN-CHILE Chile University of Otago Business School New Zealand University of Pretoria Gordon Institute of Business Science South Africa University of South Australia Australia University of Southern Queensland Australia University of Western Australia Business School Australia University of Wollongong Sydney Business School Australia Victoria Graduate School of Business Australia






1 2 3 4 5 6

The Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) University of Ottawa: Telfer SBS Swiss Business School IFM University Switzerland Maastricht School of Management Global OneMBA

(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))

7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

City University: Cass Kennesaw State University University of Texas-San Antonio Emlyon Business School Grenoble Graduate School of Business University of Pretoria - Gordon Institute of Business Science South Africa Rutgers Business School North America Hult Internatonal Business School North America University of Denver: Daniels North America Business School Netherlands The Netherlands Swinburne University of Technology Australia Audencia Business school France Purdue University-West Lafayette: Krannert North America Business School Lausanne Switzerland INCAE Business School Costa Rica Maastricht University The Netherlands IMM Global Executive EMBA

(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


24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

The American University in Cairo Egypt Georgia State University: Robinson North America Massey University New Zealand Trinity College Dublin School of Business Republic of Ireland University of Wollongong Sydney Business School Australia University of Texas-​Dallas: Jindal North America Kent State University North America Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America RMIT University Australia Concordia University Canada Baylor University: Hankamer North America Nyenrode Business University The Netherlands Simon Fraser University: Beedie EMBA & EMBA-IBL Canada IfM Institut für Management Austria United International Business Schools Switzerland Oakland University North America University of Nebraska-Omaha North America Virginia Commonwealth University North America

75 University of Exeter


76 Aston Business School*


42 Durham-EBS Executive MBA Mexico Canada Switzerland Switzerland The Netherlands

Brazil, China, Mexico, The Netherlands and North America UK North America North America France France

Germany and UK

43 Texas Christian University: Neeley

North America

44 University of California-San Diego: Rady

North America

45 University of Chile FEN-CHILE


46 Florida International University*

North America

47 Loyola Marymount University

North America

48 University of Oklahoma: Price

North America

49 California State University-East Bay

North America

50 Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders

North America


Pontifical Catholic University of Chile


52 Villanova University

North America

53 Boston University: Questrom

North America

54 University of Texas at Arlington

North America

55 Washington State University: Carson

North America

56 IAE Business School


57 The University of Alabama: Manderson

North America

58 University of Kentucky: Gatton 59 University of North Carolina-Wilmington: Cameron

North America

60 McMaster University: DeGroote

North America Canada

61 University of Oregon

North America

62 University of Tampa: Sykes

North America

63 Virginia Tech: Pamplin

North America

64 Fordham University

North America

65 University of Bradford School of Management UK and Dubai 66 Texas A&M University-​College Station: Mays 67 Lagos Business School

North America Nigeria

68 University of Pittsburgh: Katz

North America

69 University of Alberta


70 Politecnico di Milano School of Management Jacksonville University*

Italy North America

72 University of South Florida: Muma

North America

73 Auburn University: Harbert

North America

74 ESADE Business School


77 Saint Joseph's University: Haub

North America

78 College of William and Mary: Mason

North America

79 Iowa State University

North America

80 Crummer Graduate School of Business

at Rollins

North America

81 Suffolk University: Sawyer

North America

82 Seattle University: Albers

North America

83 Marquette University

North America

84 University of New Mexico: Anderson*

North America

85 California State University-​Long Beach

North America

86 Xavier University

North America

87 University of Memphis

North America

88 The Lisbon MBA Catolica|Nova*


89 Hofstra University: Zarb*

North America

90 University of North Alabama

North America

91 University of Lousiville*

North America

*Some data unavailable

14 / Spring 2021

GLOBAL ONLINE MBA RANKINGS Rank Country 1 EU Business School Germany, Spain and Switzerland 2 Business School Netherlands The Netherlands 3 SBS Swiss Business School Switzerland 4 OBS Business School Spain 5 Nebrija Business School Spain 6 United International Business Schools Switzerland 7 Maastricht University The Netherlands New Zealand 8 University of Otago Business School 9 Macquarie Business School Australia 10 Maastricht School of Management The Netherlands 11 University of Business and International Studies Switzerland 12 University of South Australia Australia 13 Politecnico di Milano School of Management: International Flex EMBA Italy 14 GBSB Global Business School Spain 15 Massey University New Zealand 16 University of Denver: Daniels North America Australia 17 La Trobe University 18 The EuroMBA (Aix-Marseille, Audencia Nantes, EADA, France, Spain, HHL Leipzig, Kozminski University Germany, Poland and the Netherlands and Maastrict University) 19 Jack Welch Management Institute North America 20 University of Bradford School of Management UK 21 Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America 22 Griffith University Australia 23 Politecnico di Milano School of Management: Flex EMBA Italy UK 24 The Open University* Australia 25 RMIT University EMBA UK 26 Durham University Business School* 27 Torrens University Australia Australia 28 Queens University of Charlotte North America 29 Colorado Technical University North America 30 University of Massachusetts-​Lowell North America North America 31 Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders 32 Georgia WebMBA (Columbus State University, Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, University of West Georgia, Valdosta State University) North America 33 University of the Sciences North America North America 34 Washington State University: Carson 35 Ashland University North America North America 36 University of Massachusetts-Amherst: Isenberg 37 University of North Carolina-Wilmington: Cameron (MBA & EMBA) North America 38 University of Southern Queensland Australia 39 Aston Business School* UK =40 Marquette University 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

Rank =40 Florida Southern College School of Business 41 Central Queensland University 42 Victoria Graduate School of Business 43 Walsh College* 44 Baylor University: Hankamer 45 American University: Kogod 46 University of Maine 47 California State University-San Bernardino 48 University of Delaware: Lerner 49 George Washington University 50 University of Cincinnati: Lindner* 51 Saint Joseph's University: Haub EMBA 52 University of Kentucky: Gatton 53 University of Texas at Arlington 54 Saint Joseph's University: Haub 55 University of Baltimore 56 University of Pittsburgh: Katz 57 University of Exeter 58 University of Texas-​Dallas : Jindal 59 Swinburne University of Technology 60 University of Memphis 61 Niagara University 62 College of William and Mary: Mason 63 Suffolk University: Sawyer 64 Kent State University 65 Bentley University: McCallum 66 University of South Florida: Muma 67 Drake University 68 Virginia Commonwealth University 69 Seattle University: Albers 70 Appalachian State University* 71 Oakland University 72 California State University-​Long Beach 73 Xavier University 74 DePaul University: Kellstadt 75 University of Louisville* 76 Kennesaw State University 77 University of Michigan - Flint 78 Florida International University* 79 University of Louisiana at Lafayette 80 Hofstra University: Zarb* 81 Auburn University: Harbert 82 Indiana University: Kelley* 83 University of North Alabama 84 The Univerisity of Newcastle Australia 85 University of North Texas 86 Jacksonville University* 87 Bryant University* 88 The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 89 Northwest Missouri State University

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

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 *Some data unavailable / Spring 2021


16 / Spring 2021



inding a mentor is one of the most transformative actions a professional can take. Leaders at the helms of companies around the world equate having a mentor with their success. Whether establishing a career, taking a new direction or starting something new, receiving advice from those who have been through the same experience and reached the heights of their profession is invaluable. Although nothing can replace the personal relationship and specific guidance that only a mentor can provide, many professionals who have reached the top of their game have universally useful words of wisdom to share. As we move through the year with renewed energy and ambitious goals, it's fitting to reflect on insights from some of the world's most influential and innovative leaders. / Spring 2021


“Resilience, agility and adaptability are characteristics that have come to define what it means to be successful in business.”


Be Passionate About What You Do Fairly unanimously, advice comes from successful business people to discover your passion and find a way to work in that field. Over a lifetime, the average person spends 90,000 hours, or one-third of their life, at work,¹ which is why it's essential to build a career that holds your interest. Even in the context of a struggling economy, widespread industry disruption and more limited career options, future of work expert Dr. Carl Benedikt Frey, Director of Oxford University's Future of Work Programme, maintains that "finding your passion is as important today as it has ever been." Despite, or perhaps even because of prevailing uncertainty about what the future will hold, finding work that you can be enthusiastic about should remain a priority. This is particularly pertinent according to Thierry Geerts, Country Director of Google Belgium and Luxembourg. He states, "students now have to be prepared to study all their career. That is why it is very important that you go for your passion. You have to take on something that you are really interested in so that studying will be fun." To find success in an environment where advances in technology are continually redefining the work that people do, constant learning is essential. Not only will finding work that you enjoy and are passionate about give you the energy to drive forward innovation, it will give you the resilience to weather any storms you face. Although choosing to work where your passion lies can sometimes mean a more challenging, perhaps less lucrative beginning, being passionate pays off in the long term.

Embrace Challenges as Opportunities Resilience, agility and adaptability are characteristics that have come to define what it means to be successful in business. To build a career or grow a company, you need to be adept at recognising the opportunities hiding behind any problems that arise. Being able to respond to shifting markets and consumer behaviour is key in a volatile business landscape. André Hoffmann, Vice Chairman of the pharmaceuticals and diagnostics giant Hoffmann-La Roche, believes that "You need to be opportunistic; if something develops in front of you, go, don't think about it too hard." A career with many twists and turns will give you more opportunities to develop broad skills, identify your strengths and decide what you don't want – critical self-knowledge that will determine where and how you find success. Taking the initiative is also key to getting ahead; don't wait for others to recognise your potential. "Show that you are prepared to take on more responsibilities, raise your hand and jump into a project on top of what you're already doing" advises Helena Hedblom, President and CEO of Epiroc AB, a leading productivity partner for the mining industries with sales in 150 countries. It's advice that crosses industries; Omar Berrada, Chief Football Operations Officer at City Football Group, encourages new graduates to push themselves: "To the extent that you can, challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone because it is going to make you grow personally and professionally, and it is going to allow you to reach your full potential." / Spring 2021

Pursue Creative Thinking Jean-Claude Biver, LVMH Group, NonExecutive President of the Watch Division, Chairman of Hublot and Zenith watches – and the man widely credited with saving the luxury Swiss watch industry – believes that the key to reaching your full potential is to be determinedly different: "When you are obsessed to never think like others, when you are obsessed to be different, when you are obsessed to be first, when you are obsessed to be unique, then, suddenly, you think out of the box. And when you are out of the box then the whole world is there, open for you." Of course, creative thinking is easier said than done, but by recognising that disruption often equals opportunity, and by employing empathy to inhabit the shoes of customers, employees and others, you can create the sort of lightbulb moments that turn disaster into triumph. Know Yourself Starbucks co-founder Zev Siegl sold his shares just as the brand started to expand. While it seems he should be disappointed by the huge profit he missed out on, this couldn't be further from the truth. He reflected: "I feel really happy, it's like seeing your child turn into one of the best people in the world. The impact on myself and on the rest of the world of Starbucks is a positive one." But how is it that the co-founder of one of the world's most ubiquitous brands doesn't regret exiting the business just before it achieved astronomic success? Because Zev made his decision with an exemplary selfawareness: "I am not a person who is very comfortable in a company with a hundred / Spring 2021

employees, let alone thousands. I am good at the early stage; putting things together, financing, but I am not good in a large organisation. […] If you know who you are – and I do, I know who I am – you can be content following your own life plan." Zev's advice is key for entrepreneurs – know yourself, determine your strengths, discover what you enjoy and let selfawareness guide your decisions. Not only is this the best way to ensure the ongoing success of your company – Zev acknowledges that Starbucks would not be where it is today were he at the helm instead of Howard Shultz – but it is also the best way to ensure your own happiness. Consciously Shape Your Leadership Style How you lead will directly impact the success of your business. Your leadership style will set team or workplace culture, and the broader company culture too, if you are a founder or CEO. Making a conscious decision to lead in a certain way will ensure that the culture that springs up around you is positive and engenders enthusiasm and productivity from your team. Leadership style is a personal choice and will be determined by your values, personality and ambition. That said, advice from those who have reached the top will give you a helpful starting point and a structure within which you can shape your own approach.

“Not only will finding work that you enjoy and are passionate about give you the energy to drive forward innovation, it will give you the resilience to weather any storms you face.”


“EU Business School’s pragmatic approach to education ensures that their students learn essential theory, gain an entrepreneurial mindset and obtain insights from the cutting edge of business.”


Christian Clerc, President of Global Operations at the ubiquitous luxury brand Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, believes that: "Leaders who show authenticity in their leadership style have a very impactful, very powerful following." And being authentic means owning up to mistakes and gaps in your knowledge. Christian explained: "It starts with being honest, being transparent and admitting when you don't know something. […] To be very honest about what we know, the things that we don't know and what you are doing about it, creates trust." It's a view echoed by Jean-Claude Biver, who remarked that "You must have the courage to be wrong." He elaborated: "The more you see successful people – in sport, in business, in art – the more you will notice that they are humble, the more you will notice they are always ready to listen, the more you will notice they will take time to explain to you, the more you will notice that they need others to help. So, this is the key." Describing the leaders who inspired him and the mentors he learned from, Mr. Biver explained that authenticity, honesty, humility and openness are all key attributes professionals should cultivate to gain the trust and support of those around them. According to Mr. Clerc, when it comes to their leaders, "People today don't want to be managed, they want to be inspired." As the trend to creating purpose-driven, value-led companies continues to gather pace, employees look to their leadership for an inspiring vision that will motivate them to deliver their best work, day after day. Being profit-driven is no longer enough. Deloitte Insights found that "Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction."² Leading to inspire will accelerate your journey to the top as well as the financial success of the company you lead.

Protect Your Reputation In business, reputation is everything. How a company is perceived by others will govern who you are able to partner with, who will buy your product or service and who will work for you. Company reputation is very closely linked to personal reputation – consider, for example, the British businessman Mike Ashley. His appalling reputation, stemming from his behaviour as leader of retail chain Sports Direct, has had a direct impact on customer perception of the company, has made shareholder and investor relations extremely difficult, and has even made finding an auditor challenging as the big four – PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte – have shied away from working with a man seen as "a magnet for controversy".³ As Ronnie Leten, Chairman of Ericsson, put it: "You only have one reputation: manage it well. Decide how you want to be perceived and be consistent." Ronnie was contacted by the board of Ericsson to take on the role of chairman precisely because of the excellent reputation which preceded him. What's more, following the announcement of his appointment, shares in Ericsson rose by 2.2%. 4 Cultivating a positive reputation pays dividends, both financially and in terms of career progression. To protect your reputation, CEO of Doha Bank Dr. R. Seetharaman advises, always, "remain calm and composed and govern with good ethics." Leading with honesty and putting values first will inspire those around you while ensuring that further afield, your efforts as a leader are admired. A Pragmatic Education for Business Success The high-profile leaders quoted here spoke exclusively as part of EU Business School's 'Learning From Leaders' conference series. Students, alumni and guests are introduced to leaders from across industry and around the world who have reached the top of their game. The series delivers insights into / Spring 2021

industry trends, invaluable career advice and illuminating knowledge about current business practices. EU Business School's pragmatic approach to education ensures that their students learn essential theory, gain an entrepreneurial mindset and obtain insights from the cutting edge of business. Through their exclusive series of conferences with global leaders, as well as opportunities to network, visit companies and encounter entrepreneurs and innovators, students at EU Business School graduate ready to thrive in business. EU Business School has been listed in the top 30 in Europe for entrepreneurship by EU-Startups, and their MBA in Entrepreneurship has been ranked in the top 100 worldwide by QS.


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.

1 / Spring 2021

One third of your life is spent at work - Gettysburg College


Purpose-driven companies | Deloitte Insights


Who is Mike Ashley? Analysing Britain’s most controversial retail magnate (


Recovery hopes rise as Ericsson picks ex-Atlas Copco boss as chairman | Reuters


22 / Spring 2021

RELEVANCY, RIGOUR, AND ROI A L E X A N D R A S K I N N E R TA L K S T O M I C H A E L W E B E R Q. For those not familiar with Florida Southern College (FSC), would it be fair to say that your MBA offering is somewhat of a hidden gem? Yes, but my job is to make sure that our MBA is no longer hidden. The FSC MBA will always be a gem because it offers the personalised approach of a boutique programme, yet also offers the impact and outcomes associated with much larger MBA programmes. Q. Beyond international business exposure, oneto-one mentoring, competitive price points, and AACSB accreditation, what sets FSC apart from other programme providers in the market? We actively collaborate with our business community partners to build innovative and relevant curriculum, which educates and trains business professionals that our business partners will hire and promote within their organisations. Q. Can you expand upon your Executive Mentor programme? The FSC MBA Executive Mentor programme matches each student with a mentor from a career-relevant industry or organisation. The programme offers our students the opportunity to learn real-world business practices through the guidance of successful and experienced business professionals. The mentor facilitates job shadowing, hands-on learning scenarios, networking opportunities, and provides career advice and guidance.

“Our graduates with MBA specialisations are experiencing rapid ROI in terms of promotions and salary increases. In fact, many of our current MBA students are seeing ROI while they are still in the programme.”

Your Living Case Studies provide students with experiential learning opportunities. Kindly delineate the benefits students can expect to accrue from the process and the profile of the businesses involved. / Spring 2021


“Adult learners tend to prefer the flexibility and convenience of online programmes, especially if the quality is equivalent to the in-class experience.”

The Living Case Studies process is designed as a real-world consulting endeavour that embeds the MBA students into a business problem-solving scenario. We want this experience to build each student’s entrepreneurial mindset and attendant skills, which includes the ability to analyse a situation, conduct an opportunity and risk assessment, propose an idea and solution, and then implement and launch a plan. We collaborate with a diverse group of organisations, which gives our students many opportunities to work with an industry and organisation that matches their career-path goals. A focus on innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives are the key attributes that define our partner organisations. Q (a). You offer a hybrid and an online MBA option; given the current climate, would I be correct in assuming the latter is more popular? While interest and enrollment in our Hybrid MBA remain strong, we have seen increased interest and enrollment in the Online MBA, which we attribute to current conditions, including the pandemic. Q (b). Looking beyond the pandemic, is this trend likely to continue and, if so, why? I actually think that the trend towards online programmes, and online MBAs in particular, started well before the impact of the pandemic. Adult learners tend to prefer the flexibility and convenience of online programmes, especially if the quality is equivalent to the inclass experience. I do think that the pandemic has accelerated the preference for online MBAs, and there is no indication that the trend will decline when we get to the other side of the pandemic.


Michael Weber is Dean and Professor of Marketing at the Barney Barnett School of Business & Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College. 24

Q (b). Given the proliferation of MBA programmes and, therefore, graduates, have general MBAs lost their lustre with applicants and employers? This does not mean that the MBA has lost its lustre or importance in the overall job market; it just means that specialisations are a powerful differentiator. We believe that an MBA with a specialisation is more powerful and attractive than a specialised master’s degree in a specific business discipline because the MBA provides applicable skills across most business disciplines while also diving a bit deeper into one specific area.

“The Florida Southern College MBA and alumni network will fast track our graduates into successful and rewarding careers, and facilitate their ability to make a positive and consequential impact on society.”

Q (a). In an increasingly competitive job market, how important are MBA specialisations, and why? That is an interesting question. The MBA is the most popular graduate degree in the world, and it is one of the most general degrees. Yet, MBA specialisations (also referred to as concentrations/tracks) are in high demand from students because employers are seeking candidates with MBAs that include some level of specialisation in a specific business discipline.

Q (c). Can you walk our readers through the MBA specialisations on offer at FSC and the thinking behind their provision? At Florida Southern College, we build and offer MBA specialisations based on student preference, employer feedback, and faculty strengths. We currently provide specialisations in Business Analytics, CPA Licensure (Accounting), Industrial and Organisational Psychology, and Supply Chain Management. We are also developing specialisations in Esports and Health Care Management, which will be available starting in Fall 2021.

Q (d). Given the expertise specialisations offer, would it be fair to say that post-MBA ROI is accelerated? Definitely! Our graduates with MBA specialisations are experiencing rapid ROI in terms of promotions and salary increases. In fact, many of our current MBA students are seeing ROI while they are still in the programme. We have a philosophy of “learn it today – apply it today”, so our MBA students are being offered new project roles and increased responsibilities as they apply their new knowledge and skills at work. Q. What can potential students expect from both FSC and their MBA degree, post-graduation? Our MBA graduates join an impressive and successful alumni network of business professionals that work in a diverse set of industries and organisations, which are international, domestic and local. The Florida Southern College MBA and alumni network will fast track our graduates into successful and rewarding careers and facilitate their ability to positively and consequentially impact society. / Spring 2021




“The ability to align, if not agree, on a fundamental purpose characterises effective boards.”



Awareness of group dynamics rom the outside, it’s not so difficult Addressing group dynamics on the board, to distinguish well-functioning then, requires deliberate cultivation of what corporate boards from problemFrench and Simpson call “evenly suspended plagued ones. Healthy, successful attention” – an all-encompassing awareness of boards are those that make wise decisions, what is happening underneath the surface of a within a reasonable timeframe, that carry board meeting. This form of attention allows weight with management. But deconstructing one to “read the [board]room”, uncovering the board success into a checklist or recipe is emotional content of unspoken cues. not so obvious. Composition – achieving the Four categories of cues are most useful. right mix of backgrounds and competencies Non-verbal communication (body language, – is essential but not sufficient. There’s facial expression, etc.) is often a more reliable an intangible aspect too, one that can’t be indicator of emotion than the spoken word, captured by merely curating the right CVs. especially in group settings that are fraught At bottom, boards are like any other with self-consciousness, such as board group of people. The psychoanalyst Wilfred meetings. Informal roles – cheerleader, devil’s Bion observed that all groups coalesce for advocate, etc. – can strongly affect a specific purpose. For boards, group dynamics when individuals the purpose consists of roles and habitually adopt a role that inhibits responsibilities such as advising collective performance or becomes management, taking charge in times a mask that devours its wearer. of crisis, protecting organisational Also, group interactions do not assets, handling CEO succession, “How effectively occur in a vacuum but within a etc. How effectively groups fulfil context, which may include their purpose is partly determined groups fulfil their larger events within the organisation, by their collective dynamic, or how individual personalities mesh purpose is partly the business environment, or the political and social spheres. Even or clash with one another in the determined by the rituals and routines of the board course of getting work done. The itself can be key shapers of context, ability to align, if not agree, on a their collective e.g., the order of agenda items, fundamental purpose characterises dynamic, or as the resolution of one issue can effective boards. Those with affect the outcomes of later ones. a counterproductive dynamic how individual Finally, unspoken issues (or, if you will often get bogged down in prefer, “the elephant in the room”) interpersonal or political conflict. A personalities can weigh on performance with different kind of troubled dynamic mesh or clash the force of a taboo if they are not can give rise to groupthink-ruled boards that manufacture consensus with one another somehow confronted directly. to shield against anxiety-provoking in the course Taking action truths. After developing a sensitive A positive board dynamic, of getting work barometer for group dynamics, therefore, lends itself not only done.” boards can take steps to improve to group cohesion, but also to their dynamic using five levers. optimal fulfilment of core roles and Check in and check out: Try responsibilities for the good of the opening meetings by touching firm. base emotionally instead of getting Two strong headwinds impede straight to business, as most boards interventions to improve group do. Since it will probably have dynamics on the board. First, been at least several weeks since the last directors generally possess – or at least board meeting, the opening “check-in” is an project – a sense of self-assurance bolstered opportunity for directors to share not just by prolonged professional success. In the how they are feeling, but also any important pressured environment of a board meeting, events (personal or professional) that the they eschew displays of vulnerability and others may not know about. The check-in expect a certain degree of deference from builds trust and connection among the those around them. These psychological board while providing crucial context so defences are incompatible with honest that responses in the meeting are less easily discussions of emotional dynamics. Second, misconstrued. Similarly, the conclusion of the infrequency of board meetings can place the meeting can be an optimal moment for a low ceiling on trust and familiarity between directors to reflect openly on what went directors. Unlike team members who are well and what didn’t, what could be done in daily contact, board directors don’t have differently, and the nature of their group the luxury of time to adjust to one another’s dynamic. particularities and preferred working styles. / Spring 2021

Experiment with different informal roles: To avoid individuals getting stuck in a restrictive role, directors can explicitly discuss the roles that the board requires, and which directors (if any) tend to play them. If it is decided, for example, that the role of devil’s advocate is absolutely necessary, it may be a good idea to designate a different director to play it at every meeting so that the same person does not feel obligated to take it on all the time. This will give each director a chance to play multiple roles while formalising a diversity of perspectives (which can only aid decision making). Seek professional development for directors: Executive education programmes that incorporate soft skills (leadership, emotional intelligence, group dynamics) alongside technical competencies are particularly valuable. For example, INSEAD’s International Directors Programme uses realistically simulated board meetings, in which directors (read: participants) tackle common objectives such as evaluating a potential acquisition target. Through engaging in this exercise and reflecting on it later both within the “board” and in coaching sessions, directors increase their awareness of – and influence over – group dynamics.

Make the most of board assessments: Annual board assessments are becoming commonplace, but are only as good as the thought and effort put into them. Rather than a box-ticking exercise, the assessment can be an ideal occasion for directors to provide feedback about one another and the group dynamic on the board. The best vehicle for this would be confidential, one-on-one interviews with a neutral third party, followed by a board-level discussion of the assessment results. Leverage the support of a board coach: Experienced coaches can work with directors individually or sit in on meetings and improve the group dynamic by promoting greater courage and transparency in bringing hidden issues to light. In sum, all boards should invest time and attention in nurturing group dynamics as an integral part of their work instead of merely addressing it when the board composition changes, e.g., when onboarding new directors. This article is based on the author’s book chapter titled “Mastering board dynamics: Embedding a learning and coaching culture in board work” in the recently published anthology Dynamics at Boardroom Level (Routledge).


Vincent H. Dominé is an Adjunct Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD. Specialised in top leadership team and board development, he directs the Leadership Development Programme in the Global Executive MBA. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This article is republished courtesy of INSEAD Knowledge (http://knowledge. Copyright INSEAD 2021.

Be EXCEPTIONAL. With SBS Swiss Business School / Winter 2021




28 / Spring 2021 / Spring 2021


“The best businesses are driven by core principles that outline what the organizations stand for and how they operate; these are crucial guideposts during a crisis.”



uring the global COVID-19 crisis, Jeff McLean discovered that many lessons he had learned during his career as a Navy fighter pilot on aircraft carriers are relevant for business leaders during troubled and fast-changing times. In this opinion piece, he shares four ways that leaders can help their teams stay calm and focused on their goals during the pandemic. McLean is a senior principal at ghSMART, a consulting firm, where he advises CEOs, boards, and investment firms. He is a former Navy fighter pilot, White House Fellow, and was featured by Wharton Magazine on its 2017 list of 40 notable alumni aged less than 40. Across the economy, leaders of organizations of all sizes are stepping up to guide their teams through challenging and uncertain times. As crises extend past initial shock to a prolonged period of uncertainty, leaders must consistently project calm, stability, and control when there is ambiguity all around. As a leadership advisor, I am fortunate to advise and partner closely with many CEOs, boards, and investment funds in solving their most difficult leadership challenges. During the global COVID-19 crisis, I have discovered that many lessons learned during my career as a Navy fighter pilot on aircraft carriers are relevant for business leaders as they strive to maintain composure and keep teams focused during these troubled and fast-changing times. Here are four things leaders can do to steady their teams and arm individuals with the information, confidence, and commitment to steer their organizations through hard times.


Communicate regularly. By far the most important step leaders can take to reassure and guide their teams during prolonged periods of uncertainty is to maintain a consistent drumbeat of communication to relay information and check in with their teams. Leaders should set up a forum for the consistent flow of information to team members to provide situation updates, deliver helpful guidance, and allay unfounded fears. A lack of information and communication often breeds rumors that can quickly swirl into assumptions about the worst possible outcomes and undermine motivation and focus. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Having direct updates and guidance from leadership engages individuals and assures them that the people in charge are actively solving problems and charting a constructive course. Even if there is no meaningful update to pass along, maintaining the regularity of the meetings generates confidence and a reassuring sense of consistency. In the armed forces context, every combat deployment is a significant period of uncertainty and personal challenge. The rhythms of communication from wartime unit commanders are ideal examples to keep in mind during tumultuous periods in the private sector. When I joined my first squadron, the carrier strike group had just returned from a six-month combat deployment, which is normally followed by a long period at home. But, to support the troop surge in Afghanistan in 2010, the carrier was / Spring 2021

called on to deploy again in short order. For the 5,000 service members on the ship, many of the previous 365 days had been spent at sea, away from home, and in very demanding combat situations. Now, they faced another prolonged period at sea. Immediately, rumors spread through the ship of an extended deployment seemingly without end in sight. These rumors and the unknown duration of how long the hardship conditions would persist drained individual morale and caused incredible stress for sailors and their families back home. To their great credit, the commanders on the ship created weekly “all hands” meetings, where they could directly share information, quell rumors, and motivate the troops to focus on their crucial work. Ultimately, the crew ended up spending the first three months of the “surge” deployment at sea without a port stop for respite and a total of seven months deployed. Yet, the crew exceeded all expectations for performance and remained focused, calm, and motivated thanks to the consistent engagement from leadership.


Be transparent. Always be direct about what you know and honest about what you don’t. People do not expect their leaders to have all the answers, but they want to know that leaders have the facts and are actively charting a course that considers the most recent information. Calmly sticking to the facts, limiting speculation, and basing comments on the realities of the situation will add composure and reassure individuals that leaders are alert at the helm. After a situation update, seek to give actions that your team can focus on that will help move the needle to help them overcome the worry and sense of / Spring 2021

helplessness that are common during crises. Emphasize that teams should focus on what they can control and do the work for which others are depending on them. Having a clear sense of purpose and how others are counting on you is both empowering and motivating. Reassure people that you believe in their ability to execute and express your gratitude for their hard work and sacrifices for the organization. For military commanders, dealing in the hard realities of facts is crucial to leading effectively, and there is no room for conjecture. For example, General Colin Powell used to instruct his intelligence officers, “Tell me what you know, then tell me what you don’t know, and only then can you tell me what you think.” That strict order of dealing in facts and transparently identifying unknowns sets a level field that can serve as the basis for effective decision making. In a corporate context, the practice of being transparent ensures credibility with the workforce that will need to execute the plan. Leaders who withhold or attempt to gloss over tough realities will undermine their credibility with teams and will only add fuel to the fire of internal churn and worry. Bad news does not get better with time, so be honest and forthcoming, and your team will appreciate it. Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein executed these points brilliantly in his early guidance to commanders during the opening days of the current crisis. He instructed commanders to “set proper expectations. Your airmen and families will appreciate candor, not coddling. We don’t know when this will end. We don’t know a lot. Don’t make things up. Tell them what you do know and share what you don’t.” Ending

“Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.” –Epictetus


“Bad news does not get better with time, so be honest and forthcoming, and your team will appreciate it.”


with a call to action, he wrote simply, “It’s not your job to fix this. Your job is to lead.” With confusion and ambiguity swirling in the minds of your team members, deal in facts, and be transparent about unknowns. Save the opining and venturing into hypotheticals for your smaller team strategy sessions.


Reinforce guiding principles. When speaking with your teams, consistently reinforce your organization’s principles and how they are driving decision-making among the leadership team. Authentically encourage everyone in the organization to let those principles be their guide in challenging times. In dynamic situations, individuals who have these core values at the top of their minds when making decisions will act with the interests of the organization and will make more effective decisions with better outcomes. Principles exist to define the

character of an organization, and they can provide every team member with strength, direction, and affirmation in the most challenging times. Military units are exceptional at leaning on principles and core values to help drive character and behavior, and the core values of military units are memorialized and embedded in the fundamental culture of every fighting unit. Within hours of arriving at the Naval Academy, new midshipmen are immediately taught and challenged to memorize the Academy’s Mission Statement, which lays out the core principles of the institution. At West Point, “Duty, Honor, Country” carries such significance that General MacArthur used them as the core pillars of his farewell speech 40 years after graduating. In the Air Force, “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do” help to ground the thinking and actions of leaders across the service. The best businesses are similarly driven by core principles that outline what the organizations stand for and how they operate; these are crucial guideposts during / Spring Winter 2021

a crisis. One of our firm’s core values is “Who Matters,” which underscores our belief that our people are the core strength of our team. This has great significance in how we engage as team members during good times but also provides crucial guidance during times of crisis. Staying true to serving our people, our firm leaders have prioritized many significant discretionary cuts that will occur before any person would be in danger of losing their job. Firm leaders have laid out the ways in which the firm will sacrifice in order to support and protect each individual, so that in turn, we have the mental and emotional bandwidth to focus on supporting the leaders we serve as clients.


Don’t forget to listen. Don’t just transmit information— make time and be prepared to receive it as well. These communication sessions also provide crucial opportunities for you to hear the thoughts, concerns, and realities of operators on the front lines. Doing so will help leaders see blind spots that might be missed in higher-level strategy and crisis management sessions. Teams will uncover potential areas of concern that have been overlooked, and they likely have the best ideas on how those problems can be addressed. Knowing there is an open conduit to raise issues up the chain of command will engage people even further and maintain their buy-in. On an aircraft carrier, the commander who oversees all the squadrons that make up the combined Air Wing hosts a forum at the end of each day of combat operations where every pilot who flew a mission that day can provide a succinct debrief of the mission, provide a situation update, and raise any administrative / Spring Winter 2021

issues that could be improved in the Air Wing’s procedures. Called a “hotwash,” this meeting is the single best forum for the commander to get real-time updates and feedback from pilots in the field to make realtime process improvements. The consistent updating of context and situational awareness helps the Air Wing commander provide more informed strategic guidance. Sharing this information in a public forum also helps every pilot in the Air Wing gain insight, capture lessons learned from peers, and improve situational awareness to inform decision making going forward. During times of crisis, a leader can move so fast in the generation of ideas and actions that the organization can be left behind without time to catch up operationally, and without soliciting and listening closely to the feedback coming up from the team, a leader misses out on crucial input. Ultimately, by keeping your teams informed on a regular basis and providing the consistency and insight that all people desire during times of uncertainty, your teams will step up and amaze you with their execution and ability to deliver under pressure. People want to work hard and focus on helping the organization through tough times, but they need to know the situation and how they can help. How you act in challenging times as a leader defines your character and directly impacts how your organization will survive. Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote, “Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.” Take time in your crisis management to thoughtfully prepare communication to your team to lead them effectively. Engage your teams openly, calmly, and consistently, and you will all emerge stronger and more dedicated on the other side.

“Principles exist to define the character of an organization, and they can provide every team member with strength, direction, and affirmation in the most challenging times.”

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








L / Spring 2021 / Spring 2021


“Think about how you give team members feedback since that will shape how they feel about coming to you with suggestions or questions in the future.”


Linda E. Ginzel is clinical professor of managerial psychology at Chicago Booth. Acknowledgement Courtesy of the Chicago Booth Review. 36


emember the traditional classrooms you’ve learned in throughout your life. What do they look like and have in common? You’re probably picturing a large space with few distractions, desks facing the front of the room, and all eyes on the teacher. Most students are taking notes; the teacher attempts a joke and students attempt to laugh. The people in the room are a diverse set of individuals and yet they all behave exactly the same way. They are all engaging in classroom behavior.

The first educators to create this environment didn’t know it at the time, but they were thinking like social psychologists. In particular, they were following what would later be the advice of the father of the discipline, Kurt Lewin, who said that behavior is a function of a person and their environment. Business executives and teachers have similar goals for obtaining certain desired behaviors from employees and pupils, but there is little they can do to change the people themselves. Under Lewin’s equation, that leaves the environment, which is something managers have at least some control over. If you want to change someone’s behavior, including your own, your best bet is to go to work changing the circumstances. Creating Ennvironments Social psychologists focus on the external circumstances that affect the behavior of individuals. They talk about creating strong environments that help to move people in the direction of their goals, which is what I teach my executive MBA students in classrooms much like the one described above. So, how do you do it? Business executives decide who is on a given team, the roles they play, how they are compensated, and the resources at their disposal. Your own behavior is a big part of the situation. If you want to change the behavior of others, start with your own actions. As an example, think about how you give team members feedback since that will shape how they feel about coming to you with suggestions or questions in the future. Consider an underachieving employee. How are you treating him compared to his better-performing coworkers? Perhaps your own behavior is inhibiting his performance. If so, maybe you should consider the factors you could change that would improve his output. Maybe he thrives under different types of deadlines or needs more resources. Try making changes to his environment and see if you get better results. Now that you have the basics, there are many opportunities to learn more about how to think like a social psychologist in the business world. My workbook, Choosing Leadership, can give you some of the tools I teach in my classes. There are also scores of podcasts, TED Talks, books, and resources by other social psychologists. My advice: Remember that while many employees might thrive under certain circumstances, you can’t make others fit into the same box. You can, however, use the environment you create to help them, and your company, succeed. / Spring 2021



“Tackling three covert barriers to change — neutral pathways, contexts and hidden agendas — is the key to true transformation.”



n January, many of us reflect on the year that’s passed, form new goals and think about what we want to change, achieve or overcome in the year ahead. Sadly though, as anyone who has ever made a New Year’s resolution likely knows, these intentions – however strong, valued and important they may be – can dissipate quickly, leaving us frustrated and disappointed. You are not alone: behavior change is astonishingly hard. Setting goals for self-improvement and personal change is important so that we can leave bad habits behind, continually grow and achieve our true potential. However, a lack of personal willpower is the most commonly

cited barrier to change, along with lack of time or money. While strong and sustained motivation is one important element in the change process, willpower alone is simply not enough. There are a number of other less obvious barriers to change that you should anticipate and address to boost your odds of turning intention into reality in 2021. Acknowledge and address hidden agendas Even if you know what you want to achieve and are motivated, hidden agendas might be blocking your progress. Also known as competing commitments, hidden agendas can surface as a tension between long and short- / Spring 2021

term goals. To really make change stick you’ll need to be honest with yourself and make some tough choices. If you’re motivated yet seem to sabotage your own progress regularly, you may need to acknowledge and confront what you covertly want more, or what is more painful to give up, than the important change you’re actually trying to make. Change your context, change yourself It’s a collection of macro and micro choices that will accumulate to bring your desired change to life. Our choices, behaviors and decisions are greatly influenced by the situation we’re immersed in. So, if you change your context, you change yourself. This context includes not only physical surroundings but also social surroundings. So, consider what behavioral and emotional patterns your context and the people that surround you enable and lock you into. Take, for example, the goal of switching off from work to be a more present parent or partner at home. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the physical location change between work and home helped this change to happen naturally. Now, the boundary between work and home is blurred.

Overcoming this context might entail starting new routines to switch off, such as getting outside for a five-minute “fake commute” around the block to disconnect from work, or putting your smartphone or laptop away. Out of sight, out of mind. Meanwhile, decades of research shows that emotional states are contagious. If you work in an environment characterized by stress and anxiety, it is likely to be a challenge for you to reach a goal to be a more positive person, for example. In this case, you’ll need to spend more time with colleagues that exude the behaviors you want to adopt. This advice holds true for any goal. In addition, Nobel laureate Richard Thaler suggests, “if you want people to do something, make it easy”. This suggests that people tend to naturally follow the path of least resistance when given a choice. For example, if you want to eat healthier, make the apples easily accessible and the chocolate more difficult to find. If you want to read more books and spend less time on social media, leave your phone on the opposite side of the house and keep the book handy. Consider what nudges you can create in your surroundings to make your desired change easier. Work out what temptations and triggers in your environment might nudge you into old patterns of behavior. Embrace feeling uncomfortable - and sometimes – inauthentic How we think and act will become hardwired, habitual patterns based on neural pathways in our brain. In fact, research suggests that more than a third of our daily behaviors are habitual. Thinking or acting differently takes considerable time, and only with constant repetition can we form new neural pathways that ensure a new behavior or mindset becomes the new normal. Moreover, any change to our identity or sense of self can feel threatening, even if it’s a welcome change. For example, the challenge of stepping up to take on a new role, moving to a new country, or trying out new leadership styles, can feel uncomfortable and make us feel inauthentic, or even fake. This awkwardness can quickly send us back to our well-worn habits that feel safe and comfortable, but it is also a very normal part of the change process. It is important to acknowledge and embrace this process, and to experiment and practice new behaviors just as you would when you’re learning a new sport, skill, or language. As you begin to set new goals and resolutions, your willpower alone may not be enough to see them through. Tackling three covert barriers to change — neutral pathways, contexts and hidden agendas — is the key to true transformation. / Spring 2021

“To really make change stick you’ll need to be honest with yourself and make some tough choices.”


Alyson Meister is a professor of leadership and management at IMD Business School. Acknowledgement Courtesy of IMD Business School. 39


Q. There is significant choice when it comes to Executive MBA (EMBA) programmes. What was it about RMIT University’s EMBA offering that tipped the scales for you? Trever Gordon (T.V.): The programme combines technology and innovation with design thinking methodology.

40 / Spring 2021

Sotiria Kontouli (S.K.): Design thinking as a new way of learning and applying the user experience in developing new methods and products. Also, the team’s very strong, responsive, and supportive. I think they are great at guiding future leaders. Manar Aljahmi (M.A.): The EMBA at RMIT prepares students for the real world by shaping the necessary tools and skills through various aspects such as group-based projects, informative lectures and internships. Q. Given the current climate, flexibility is incredibly important. In this regard, how does the programme meet your needs? T.G.: The programme offers online and, prior to COVID-19, face-to-face options. Both provide students with the ability to develop at their own pace by reviewing recorded materials. S.K.: The programme gives you the flexibility to study part-time or full-time, at your own pace, and according to your circumstances. Despite the challenging conditions, all courses have run smoothly and without interruption. Timothy Heard (T.H.): The programme provides tremendous flexibility in terms of pace, enabling students to complete the course in as little as 12 months through to many years. / Spring 2021


“The level of expertise and the leaders engaged is impressive, and it's an eye-opening experience to get to know these people.”

Q. What has been the most challenging thing about returning to education, and what mechanisms (support from family, “From the very time management, etc.) have you in place in order to manage the first day until my put increased workload? T.G.: I had not studied since 1988 Q. Can you talk about the make-up last exam prior so I was extremely apprehensive and quality of the EMBA cohort? to graduating, about returning to university. T.G.: Without going into However, from the very first company names or specific I felt that there day until my last exam prior to positions, the peer network that I was a network graduating, I felt that there was a have developed since starting at network of people at the university RMIT is far better than anywhere of people at the to help alleviate my fears, and to else that I have networked. The help me with my time management. experience of every EMBA student university to RMIT understands that people are has enriched my learning; topics help alleviate my the most important asset and each such as ethics in consulting to board strategy were greatly enhanced by fears, and to help student should be listened to, no matter how small the issue is. After listening to fellow students (many of me with my time the initial shock of studying again, whom are executives). I found that managing the fullS.K.: A diverse group of people management.” time workload with a job was not with amazing work experience impossible. adding value and contribution to the S.K.: As a single mom with no programme and working together support from family here, time in projects, forming ideas together, has been my biggest challenge, so and making decisions and business I have had to plan every day and plans. Invaluable experience and every weekend and work around engagement. my workload, my study time and my T.H.: The 2020 stream comprises papers and group meetings to make it happen. middle managers, entrepreneurs, or people Personally, as an attitude in life, I always looking to change career. I have sadly missed the face-to-face interaction because of COVID-19; however, everyone is supportive and aligned with wanting to do their best with each course. M.A.: The programme offers a wide range of opportunities in and beyond the classroom; for example, collaboration in group projects, internships at leading institutions, and academic research.

Q. How much exposure have you had to industry throughout the programme, and networking opportunities in general? T.G.: RMIT encourages industry engagement from the very first class. I was able to increase my professional network such that I have a greater understanding of how to strategically make any business that I am in succeed. Additionally, I learned that design thinking methodology actually works in the real world and should be embraced wherever possible. S.K.: Although there is room for improvement in engaging with some industries, the university is already doing an amazing job of engaging industry leaders and bringing those experts into the classroom and into projects. The level of expertise and the leaders engaged is impressive, and it's an eye-opening experience to get to know these people.

42 / Spring 2021

think you make time for important stuff and this programme has been very important to me. Q. What do you consider to be the highlight of the programme? T.G.: I met contacts who will be friends for life. The ability to network with professionals and fellow students has been invaluable. S.K.: That everybody remained motivated and engaged in such challenging times! Very strong engagement and enthusiasm from all! T.H.: I went into this programme wanting to become more rounded and have really enjoyed having my eyes opened around alternative techniques, strategies and models to look at problems and opportunities alike. The courses have also enabled me to speak a common language with my managerial peers. I cannot speak highly enough of the entire faculty team. Q. Could you tell us about any unique elements of the programme that you feel will enhance (or have already enhanced) your career objectives? T.G.: Business strategy and design thinking have already enhanced my career and will only make it more robust. I am looking at becoming a CEO one day, and RMIT has more than adequately prepared me for this eventuality.

S.K.: Gaining deeper knowledge in areas like strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which I wouldn’t particularly have to apply to my previous roles. T.H.: I feel that students can take something from every course. I have already benefited directly from a number of courses involving leadership, negotiation and building business cases. The financial management and accounting courses have been put into immediate use for financial cost models for my P&L. Q. What is, or was, the hardest thing about the programme? T.G.: A full-time workload while working was difficult. Understanding and being able to use in real life the design thinking principles was also challenging. Since I do not have a financial background, I found the financial courses the most difficult to master. T.H.: The consistent effort. I have not studied for more than 20 years and, unfortunately, COVID-19 has not provided the opportunity for students to reset after each semester. I approached the programme thinking it would be taxing and it is. I work 50-60-hour weeks and study 30-40 hours per week, so during the semester it is seven days straight in front of the laptop for 12-14 weeks. However, I am extremely proud that my effort is reflected in my excellent grades and my friends and family have been tremendously supportive. M.A.: I would say working with people from different backgrounds and trying to manage our time all together was challenging.

“The peer network that I have developed since starting at RMIT is far better than anywhere else that I have networked.”

Q. How would you summarise your MBA experience at RMIT? T.G.: Amazing. The social aspect prior to COVID-19 was something that I will always remember. During COVID-19 lockdowns, RMIT went out of its way to ensure that I was looked after and coping. Finally, the EMBA course coordinator is better than any I have encountered. His guidance will forever help me in my future business journey. S.K.: That I am glad I chose RMIT for my MBA, and I am so thankful for my professors, the staff, my fellow students, the support I have received and the friends I made along this journey! M.A.: My MBA experience at RMIT was very rich! It gave me overall academic and personal growth. / Spring 2021



44 / Spring 2021


he prevailing conditions are calling upon both professionals, and the organisations they work for, to make a change. Company views are changing, along with business plans, strategies and tactics, but how are you changing? If you are wondering how to make that leap forward and boost your professional career, why not let Nebrija University help you invest your efforts, life experience, and knowledge in studying for an official MBA. An MBA at Nebrija University is not just another degree, it is an experience that will help you to cultivate out-of-the-box thinking and see problems from a 360-degree perspective. It is definitely an experience that will get you out of your comfort zone and drive you forward into the mid twenty-first century. The decision to enrol in an MBA programme is never a quick or simple task; it requires very clear personal and professional goals, and an understanding of what you want your life to look like 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 easier for you. You don't have to worry if your previous studies aren’t related to business. We have three basic business courses (free of charge) that, once admitted into the MBA programme, will allow you to transition into the world of business at speed. Also, you don’t have to worry about whether you speak Spanish or English, how much time you have, or where you are in the world. We offer you an MBA programme that is common / Spring 2021

to all students, which you can combine with an expert degree depending on your professional preferences. Inside Nebrija´s 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 (SeptemberOctober) 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 teaching load they receive during this period amounts to a total of 45 hours and is complemented with an additional nine hours in people-management and leadership during the second semester. Students continue their training between February and June by selecting one of the following specialtisations: Business Management, Entrepreneurship, Tourism Business Management, and Legal Compliance. In total, each chosen specialisation is composed of four subjects involving 48 teaching hours.

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


“Nebrija University stands out in the rankings for its high performance, a consequence of our differentiating elements: academic excellence, employability, and international orientation.”

The MBA programme also includes an internship (150 hours) and the preparation and public defence of a master's thesis during the month of June, which involves another six European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits. In summary, the MBA programme involves individual and collaborative work that allows the student to earn an official university MBA, and a Nebrija University diploma corresponding to the chosen specialty. After completing the official MBA programme, students spend a week at Berkeley University (USA) or Babson College in Boston, where they have the opportunity to further extend their training experience via a programme in innovation and entrepreneurship. 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 notice 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, 46

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. 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. The university also holds BGA/AMBA membership, which allows our students to have a personalised review of their CV, free of charge, and provides them with training for interviews and job postings worldwide. There are also interesting webinars and valuable information on today’s changing world. 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 / Spring 2021

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 / Winter 2021

commitment to a model based on quality teaching and research: key principles in the development of individual talent and professional integration. This approach is 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. 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.


Andrés J. Arenas is a senior lecturer and research fellow at Nebrija University.


48 / Winter 2021

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50 / Spring 2021


ven in the best of times, starting a business is like running a marathon with the odds stacked against you. In a global recession, you also have to endure the headwinds of reduced consumer spending and more selective investors. If legs of steel were essential before, they are absolutely critical now. You may also need a new strategy. Many start-up founders swear by the Lean Startup method, popularised by serial entrepreneur and software engineer Eric Ries in a 2011 book of the same name and taught in business schools and accelerators around the world. The method entails finding out customers’ problems and needs, obtaining feedback and building a minimum viable product (MVP) to test demand. The idea is to learn quickly and iteratively through experimentation and feedback, and quitting or pivoting when the original idea falls through. But there is a way to improve the Lean method itself. In a randomised controlled trial involving 116 early-stage start-ups, my colleagues* and I show how training founders to think like scientists could reduce the risk of failure. Our study, featured in an article published in the Harvard Business Review, found that entrepreneurs who were taught to formulate hypotheses from theories and rigorously test them on samples of potential customers were more likely to acknowledge that an idea was bad, as well as to exit or pivot from non-starters or pitfalls. They also generated more revenue than the control group. How to think like a scientist We partnered with two start-up schools to create a training programme based on the Lean Startup method. Early-stage start-ups – those with only a business model in mind, or whose founders had just begun to work on their idea – were invited to enrol in our training programme for free. Due to resource constraints, we selected just 116 of the 164 that applied. They were randomly assigned to either the treatment or the control group. Over the next four months, both treatment and control groups separately attended five lectures and five coaching sessions with a mentor. All of them were taught the Lean Startup essentials: draw up a “business model”, conduct behavioural customer interviews, create a minimum viable product or service, and test customers’ responses to it with experiments or quasi-experimental data. While that’s all that the control group learned, the treatment group was also trained to apply a scientific approach to the Lean method. First, they re-examined their business idea by using first-principles thinking to identify assumptions and leaps of / Spring 2021

faith. Then, they examined the relationships among the components (“value propositions”, “cost structure” and so on) of their business model canvas and assessed the entire model holistically. They were also trained to collect evidence through robustly designed experiments and rigorous data analysis, as well as to articulate decision rules at the start of their experiments or interviews that would help them stay the course – or change direction. This structured, scientific approach helped the treatment start-ups search for and analyse market signals more objectively. It reduced the likelihood of false positives (bad ideas being mistakenly accepted) and false negatives (good ideas getting rejected). Taking these steps early in the entrepreneurial journey can have an enduring impact on decisions downstream. Over the course of the four-month training and for 10 months after, we conducted a total of 16 phone interviews (observations) with each start-up. For the 44 that dropped out, interviews were conducted up to the point they exited. Compared to the control group, the treatment group had more dropouts (24 vs. 20) and more pivots (19 vs. 11). They also earned more revenue: We recorded 85 positive revenue observations in the treatment group compared to 22 in the control group over a one-year period. Average and median revenue reached €7,800 and €1,300 respectively in the treatment group, versus €900 and €500 in the control. How to (thoroughly) test an idea One start-up in our treatment group illustrates how the scientific approach can improve entrepreneurial decision making. The three co-founders of the start-up, a scooter-sharing service called MiMoto, originally planned to offer sturdy electric scooters for rent to college students in Milan, based on their own experience commuting to school and study trips to San Francisco, Mexico City and Barcelona. Then, in late 2015, the founders signed up for our start-up training and were introduced to the scientific approach to the Lean method. Applying what they learned about unravelling assumptions and testing their business model by way of falsifiable hypotheses, MiMoto’s founders conducted an experiment with 600 university students. Participants were randomly assigned to try one of 10 scooter models and interviewed on their willingness to use a scooter-sharing service, as well as which model they favoured. It turned out that most college students thought public transportation was just as convenient and cheaper than using a scootersharing service. Participants, especially 51

“In times of scarcity, such a strategy could be more than a shot in the arm for start-ups – it might well be a matter of necessity.”

women, also didn’t like MiMoto’s proposed three-wheeled scooters, finding them unwieldy. This could be the reason why Milan’s first scooter-sharing service Enjoy, which catered to working commuters with a fleet of three-wheelers, failed to gain traction. (The service was terminated in July 2017, just two years after it was launched.) MiMoto’s survey did, however, suggest that nimble scooters would appeal to commuters who needed to navigate Milan’s congested roads in a hurry. So the founders pivoted in this direction. They generated new hypotheses and tested them. They narrowed down the various likely customer demographics and refined scooter prototypes until they had an MVP and had identified a promising customer source: young professionals who wanted a flexible and fast way to travel around Milan and were willing to pay for it. Applying the scientific approach to the Lean method took time, and MiMoto’s launch was pushed back by a full two years to October 2017. But the founders’ efforts have paid off: MiMoto has raised more than €1 million and expanded to Turin, Genoa and Florence. More than 70,000 users have signed up with the service, whose 600 lightweight scooters are each booked an average of three times a day. MiMoto’s founders recently agreed to sell the company to New York-based Helbiz, a fellow environment-friendly mobility startup, contingent on the latter’s successful listing on Nasdaq. The companies are merging their fleets of electric two-wheelers – mopeds, bicycles and e-scooters – putting the combined entity in market-leading position in Italy, with plans to expand to cities in Europe and the United States. MiMoto has enjoyed early success in its start-up journey by applying the scientific approach to the Lean method. In times of scarcity, such a strategy could be more than a shot in the arm for start-ups – it might well be a matter of necessity. * Arnaldo Camuffo and Alfonso Gambardella, Professors of Management at Bocconi University.

52 / Spring 2021

“MiMoto has enjoyed early success in its start-up journey by applying the scientific approach to the Lean method.”


Chiara Spina is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD. She studies how entrepreneurial firms leverage systematic decision making and experimentation to innovate and grow. Acknowledgement This article is republished courtesy of INSEAD Knowledge (http://knowledge. Copyright INSEAD 2021. / Spring 2021




he path to entrepreneurship doesn’t go in just one direction. Take the example of Joan Treistman, who graduated with an MBA from Chicago Booth in 1969. Treistman initially got a marketing research job at The Quaker Oats Company, but switched to consulting a few years later when she and her husband decided to move back to the east coast of the United States and start a family. In consulting, Treistman developed an expertise in visual communications research, examining what attracts a customer’s attention to a display, advertisement, or product, and advised marketers about how they could use such insights to influence shoppers’ decisions.


T’ / Spring 2021

But after a few years, Treistman figured out that her employer’s parent company was looking to sell the firm, and she suggested to two colleagues that they make their own joint bid. The bid was successful and for the next 20 years, Treistman ran her own show, first with two partners at that firm, later with one of the same partners at another firm. In 1999, Treistman began to grapple with a shift to online and global marketing. She worried her boutique firm didn’t have the resources to make the change alone, so she sold her business to a larger firm. For the next eight years she worked as a senior-level executive, first for the firm she sold to and then at another marketing research firm. By 2008 she was ready to go out on her own again. “I realized I was used to making decisions on my own. It was hard to be in an environment where I was obliged to work in a way that was not always agreeable to me,” says Treistman, who found her corporate time filled with supervisory and administrative work. Now she’s back doing research, as president of the Treistman Group, her own marketing research firm.

Acknowledgement Courtesy of the Chicago Booth Review.

WAY / Spring 2021


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— Think Big Think Different Transform yourself and join the global business world with an MBA from RMIT Take the next step in your career with our unique, industryconnected and design-thinking centred MBA, run by Australia’s largest business college. This degree is one of the most practical MBAs in Australia and beyond. Through our MBA, you will develop the capabilities, knowledge and tools to be successful in any industry or entrepreneurial venture around the world. This degree is suited to young and aspiring professionals with limited experience. It has been carefully designed to provide you with industry connections, job-ready skills, knowledge, and real-world experience. If you’re an experienced professional and you are looking to expand your career, the Executive MBA is tailored to facilitate your next step into senior management. RMIT is located in Melbourne, the world’s most liveable city.* *Economist IU 2016

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