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Focus Report/Education

MBA

Making fair trade work

Fun of the fair

7 Tea challenge in Kenya

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Bespoke degrees

15 Monday October 5 2009


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MBA

Renewed hope

www.timesonline.co.uk/mba

The outlook is bright REX FEATURES

Recruiters are back and the job market is improving, says Des Dearlove

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he collapse of Lehman Brothers was a watershed, not just for the banking world but also for business schools, which trained many of the bankers. So how does the MBA market look a year on? First, the bad news: for the first time since 2004 international admissions to American graduate schools are down. A traumatised job market and tightening of visas and financing are blamed. But the good news is that business schools are reporting an increase in applications generally and an improving job market. More importantly, the latest research among MBA graduates suggests that they see the qualification — and the transferable skills it provides — as a major asset in a turbulent economy. Preliminary findings from a research report to be published later this autumn by the Association of MBAs in partnership with Durham Business School indicate that transferable skills are more in demand in recessionary times. When more than 500 MBA graduates were asked to rate the importance of the skills they had learnt, they cited the ability to manage change (66 per cent), communication skills (60 per cent) and an understanding of leadership (58 per FOCUS REPORTS Editor: Isobel Shepherd Smith, 020-7782 5064 Cover: Marta Pérez; image Kirsty McLaren/Alamy

Demand for places on MBA courses has jumped in these turbulent times

cent) as the top three. These were followed by the ability to deal with ambiguity and team working. There are signs, too, that the MBA market on both sides of the Atlantic is regaining its confidence. Paul Danos, dean at the Tuck School of Business, New Hampshire, is cautiously upbeat. “I believe we have seen the worse. The markets are stabilising. We expect that the interest among applicants in top full-time MBA programmes will stay strong.” The UK market is also showing renewed signs of life. Judge Business School, Cambridge, opened applica-

THE TIMES Monday October 5 2009

We expect interest among applicants in MBA programmes will stay strong

tions for the MBA class of 2009 in September last year at about the time Lehman Brothers fell. “We received more than 1,200 applications for about 160 places — both record numbers,” says Conrad Chua, head of MBA recruitment there. Applications to Cranfield University School of Management are up on last year, too. The quality of applicants is also higher when measured by GMAT scores, degrees and job seniority. “As far as the recession is concerned I think we have seen the worst,” says Séan Rickard, director of the full-time MBA. At Nottingham University Business School applications have risen by 40 per cent. Bob Perry, MBA director, says: “There is an average of 14 applicants for each place. The school is having to reject applicants with the right academic qualifications who lack the necessary work experience.” The recruiters are also starting to return. “The job market is improving, but slowly,” says Derek Walker, director of careers at Saïd Business School, Oxford. “The improvement seems to result mainly from the interest of smaller employers, rather than larger, traditional MBA recruiters.” Cautious optimism is also the message from Diane Morgan, director of career services at London Business School. She reports that the banks are beginning to hire MBA graduates again. “The banking world has shrunk post-Lehman, making it extremely competitive to get in but new players are picking up the slack.” In any case, many believe that the focus on the banking sector is out of proportion to its impact on MBA jobs. Dave Wilson, president and chief executive of the Graduate Management Admission Council, says: “Even though the financial services sector draws only a few per cent of the graduating MBA students, it seems to dominate the conversation,” “I call it the Tiger Woods effect. It matters little where Tiger Woods is placed in a tournament; if he is in it, he is the story. The poor chap who is 16 strokes ahead of the second-place players gets only a passing mention.”

News in brief Sector specific MBAs are on the increase. Nottingham University Business School is launching an executive MBA in healthcare, providing general management training for all professionals concerned with the subject, whether public, private or not-for-profit. Offered as a series of 12 one-week block modules, the programme was designed in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Medical School. Insead, the Paris and Singapore-based business school, has lined up a number of events to mark its 50th anniversary. A founders’ celebration last month gathered together MBA students, faculty and staff, who were there when the school opened. The Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is continuing its expansion plans as work starts on a building that will double research, teaching and study space. The building, due to open in 2011, is part of the school’s push for greater global recognition and follows its curriculum redesign based on the concept of integrative thinking. The Association of MBAs is taking steps to ensure that the next generation of graduates is not only driven and bright but also responsible. It is involving the United Nations Global Compact in its 2010 review of accreditation criteria for MBA programmes. Concepts such as social responsibility, sustainable value and responsible leadership look likely to be introduced into the accreditation process. London Business School has announced a new faculty chair in entrepreneurship and innovation as it beefs up its innovation thought leadership. Michael Jacobides, left, will be the first Sir Donald Gordon Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. STEVE COOMBER


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Risk and reward

MBA

Myth that deters women

GETTY

Testosterone is not the only key to success, finds Steve Coomber

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hen it comes to apportioning blame for the economic crisis it seems, in some quarters at least, that the thousands of MBA graduates working in the financial world, mostly men, feature high on the list of culprits. It is the actions of testosterone-driven, bonus-fuelled, risk-taking MBAs, argue some, that led to the near collapse of the global banking system. Indeed, had there been more women with MBAs working in banking and finance, we might have avoided the credit crunch altogether. So is there any validity in such a view? It is true that fewer women MBA graduates enter the finance sector and there are far fewer women in senior leadership positions. More men take MBAs specifically so they can switch to finance. At London Business School women account for up to 28 per cent of the MBA class and about 20 per cent of students on the masters in finance programme, says Diane Morgan, director of career services. She notes that there is a clear division when it comes to career choice, with women steering clear of finance. A research paper published by business school academics in January offers one reason for the gender imbalance — hormones, more particularly levels of testosterone, the male hormone associated with risk taking and competitive behaviour. The testosterone levels of about 500 MBA graduates were tested using saliva swabs and they were also assessed for risk aversion. Researchers concluded that women with more testosterone than their fellow female MBA graduates were more likely to pursue “a risky” finance career. Why risky? Because there is greater variability of earnings for MBA graduates entering the finance field, says Luigi Zingales, one of the authors of the paper and a professor of finance at Booth School of Business, University of Chicago. You might earn millions but, as employees of Lehman Brothers discovered, you might end up without a job. Given that men have more testosterone than women, it is not a huge step to suggest that this might explain the greater numbers of men with MBAs in banking and finance. The link between testosterone and risk

taking might give some credence to the suggestion that employing more women in the finance industry could have staved off financial turmoil. But testosterone is unlikely to be the only factor determining MBA career choice. Perceptions about career progression, working environment and role are all important. “A lot comes down to role models,” Morgan says. “Do women look around the room but not see anybody else like themselves? There is also the question of image: that finance is aggressive and all about risk. But within investment banking, for example, there are plenty of different positions and a huge emphasis on communication skills and critical thinking.” The encouraging news for women with MBAs who consider a career in finance — and perhaps for society as whole — is that even with roles such as trading, there is much misconception about what it takes to do well. “There is a stereotype of what a trader should be, the testosteronefuelled aggressive male,” says Michael Smith, a former equity trader who teaches at the International

The lack of role models and the stereotype of swaggering traders has led women to avoid careers in finance

Capital Market Association Centre at Henley Business School, University of Reading. “There are plenty of those but you do not need high testosterone levels to succeed as a trader. For me, the best traders are the quiet ones who do not make rash, off the cuff decisions but are far more measured.” This message is reinforced by the recruitment market. Deidre Kenny, who heads the financial services practice at CTPartners, the global search firm, says: “The old myth that a dose of swagger and confidence is a key

The best traders are the quiet ones who do not make rash off the cuff decisions

element of working in finance makes provocative media headlines but the best people I meet are thoughtful, analytical and pretty humble about the challenges of operating in today’s market. “Risk and reward are a highly dynamic equation with multiple variables that move rapidly and independently. Managing that kind of complexity is something we measure across an individual’s performance in their career, not in a blood or saliva test.”

Redressing the gender imbalance could help banks to operate with more caution Kanini Mutooni is proof that women with MBAs can carve out a successful career in the finance sector, although she acknowledges that it can be difficult. Mutooni, who graduated from Cass Business School, is head of internal audit at Kleinwort Benson, the private bank. She says the financial world can be an uncomfortable environment in which women struggle to get over their views and ideas. “You have to feel confident enough and be competitive enough to air your opinions when you may be the only women in the room. “With financial services, and specifically investment banking or private banking, a lot is transaction driven. If you do not make a transaction happen or a deal happen, it means you are not going to get your bonus. And, if you do not make those transactions, somebody else will.”

Kanini Mutooni says the financial world can be uncomfortable for women

However, there are advantages to being a woman working in the sector. “You bring your emotional and feminine qualities as well,” she says. “I think that the perfect woman to walk into financial

services is somebody who has that competitive streak and understands the need to get a deal done but, at the same time, has that softer side. You have to have the balance.” Attracting women into

banking and finance is just part of the challenge, Mutooni says. They must also be encouraged to stay long enough to move into senior leadership positions. “You have to create an environment so they stay there. This includes having more flexible working arrangements. If women feel that they can work in a bank, make a contribution and go home and have a family life, I think more would go into banking.” Redressing the gender imbalance in senior positions may take some time but it is worth the effort, Mutooni believes. “Women have a more balanced approach to risk-taking. I am convinced that if we had women chief financial officers and chief executives, the banks would have ended up taking a lot less risk. And we probably would not be where we are now.” STEVE COOMBER


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MBA

Dean speak

THE TIMES Monday October 5 2009

www.timesonline.co.uk/mba

Lessons that need learning In the wake of the crisis Leigh Drake

Dean of Nottingham University Business School

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t the peak of the global financial crisis a year ago, commentators were quick to note that many of the individuals at the centre of it were MBA graduates from leading business schools. Fingers were pointed at the business school curricula and, in particular, areas such as finance, risk management and the focus on delivering shareholder value. These legitimate questions about the MBA curricula and the long-term future of the degree have been at the centre of intense debate among academics and business schools over the past year. So did some business schools fail to challenge an ethos that, in retrospect, played a significant role in the crash? Undoubtedly, there can be an inherent tension between reflection and action in business schools. On the one hand our role is to study business

as an academic discipline. On the other we need to equip students with the leadership skills and knowledge necessary to succeed. A key question to ask is whether there are business schools that have become too attentive to what organisations say they need and fail to sufficiently probe whether this is what they really need. Have schools been resolute in questioning practice and have MBA graduates been equipped to make change happen? The MBA should be an inoculation against superficial thinking. Perhaps this is where some MBAs failed. If the MBA is perceived to be nothing more than a cheerleader for modern management, then the criticism that the consensus is not being challenged sufficiently will remain a valid one. And if challenging makes the relationship a business school has with business uncomfortable, then so be it. An appropriate historical context — both

business and economic — is often lacking in MBA programmes and it is imperative that both business and business schools learn the lessons of the financial crisis. Appropriate and timely challenges were absent when they were most needed, especially in the financial sector. It would be simplistic to assume that many of the changes we see emerging in the curriculum are a direct response to the severe economic downturn, as the life cycle of a curriculum change can take up to two years. At Nottingham last January, for example, we launched an ethical finance module but it had been in the pipeline for at least 18 months. This provides the time necessary to undertake a process of dialogue with all the key stakeholders. It is also important to avoid a kneejerk response to events. As such, the curriculum should evolve in a way

MBA graduates have a key role to play in helping the economy to grow

that anticipates developments in the wider world and has solid intellectual foundations, not as a superficial and hurried response to crises. The lessons of the past year have emphasised the importance of schools continuing to learn too. There are some things we do need to reflect on and respond to, but there are encouraging signs that more business schools are embracing the need for a broader ethical and societal perspective in business rather than a narrow focus on shareholder value. Nottingham University Business School was proud to be one of the first 100 signatories to the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) and many business schools were represented at the PRME conference at the United Nations in New York last December. Equally, MBA students should not rest on their laurels after graduating. They have a responsibility to update their skills and knowledge to remain effective leaders in an increasingly challenging business environment. As they return to the marketplace the latest cohort of MBA graduates has a key role to play in helping the economy stay on track and grow. Yesterday’s practices left much to be desired but not everything should be thrown away. New products, new processes and new business models will emerge, often because of the

entrepreneurial flair that the best MBAs encourage. Schools can also teach that it is often worth thinking a bit more before taking action and, sometimes, not doing anything is the best course of action. As the economy recovers, business schools can and should ask whether the substance of the problems behind the crisis has been tackled adequately. This is the spirit that ought to infuse the MBA of the future.

The Nottingham UBS campus


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MBA

Vital network

Love makes the business school world go round

MATT HARDING

Steve Coomber looks at the key role played by alumni

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n the spirit of the YouTube hit featuring the American video game designer Matt Harding dancing his way around the world, Cass Business School’s marketing campaign features various global destinations, alumni and bumper stickers. The “I Love Cass” promotion is a clever exercise in brand awareness but, perhaps more importantly, emphasises the vital role that alumni play in business school life. Cass, in the City of London, launched its campaign last Valentine’s Day. “As our alumni come from every corner of the globe we thought it would be a great way to create a community spirit and sense of belonging among staff, students and alumni,” says Melanie Hamelle, head of marketing. Former graduates do far more than express their love for their alma mater, however. They interview MBA applicants and also provide inside information for job applications. There are a number of platforms that allow alumni to give back to students, says Matthew Temple, director of alumni career services at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Chicago. “The Kellogg alumni mentorship programme matches alumni with current Kellogg students to provide career advice. Alumni also interact with students at conferences, where they appear as main speakers or panellists.” Alumni also host treks, where groups of MBA students go to areas such as Silicon Valley to meet company representatives. In addition they return to Kellogg to give presentations, speak to classes, help with

student clubs and take students through case studies. The careers help given to MBA students and other alumni is particularly useful. “We receive 6,000 to 8,000 job listings a year and many of those opportunities are posted by alumni,” Temple says. “That can be an important way for students to find jobs, particularly in an economy like this.” Business schools will usually operate some kind of alumni database or directory. This can be used to reach out to a company for which an MBA

The most powerful contribution you can make is to talk about the MBA experience student is interested in working. Kellogg has some 51,000 alumni, which makes this database a powerful network resource. The relationship with alumni is a two-way trade. Several business schools offer support services to former graduates long after they have moved on. Marcia Hoynes, career development manager at Durham Business School, says: “We sent out a communication offering our support to alumni affected by the current economic climate. “Durham alumni members are really important to us. We want to make sure that the support is not just

for while they are students but to make sure that it continues and that they feel part of the business school both when they are here and after they leave.” Hoynes has had several conversations with former students concerned about issues such as redundancy and has set up meetings, discussed career support and provided resources. There is also a career mentoring scheme for alumni. Former Durham students are matched with other alumni who might be able to help with their career development. At Kellogg free and unlimited oneon-one career coaching is provided to alumni, Temple says. “We can provide help with résumés and covering letters, leveraging the Kellogg network or other networks, preparing for interviews, salary negotiation and setting goals when starting a new job. In the last full school year we scheduled more than 4,000 one on one appointments with alumni.” Not every former graduate can be a mentor or host career treks. But, as Cass alumni have demonstrated, if you love your business school there are many ways to contribute. Paulette Dixon is an Americanbased singer-songwriter who graduated with an MBA from Cass in 2007. “The best thing any former student can do is to give positive feedback. It is the easiest way for alumni to give back,” she says. “When graduates leave Cass feeling good about the experience, the most powerful contribution they can make is to talk about it. So I try to share as much as I can about the MBA, the networking opportunities and the faculty and staff.” Feel the love.

Matt Harding’s global danceathon inspired the “I Love Cass” campaign

Still part of Durham’s big family Anant Mathur graduated from Durham Business School in 2006 after completing his MBA and three years later he still feels very much part of the school’s family. Since leaving he has mentored MBA students there just as he was helped by alumni as soon as he arrived. “I was allocated a mentor and we had an event within the first two weeks, in which we met and networked with as many alumni as possible.” During his MBA year Mathur was in touch with at least five alumni for tips and advice. Former graduates also provided

an insight into industry interviews and what to expect. Now the boot is on the other foot, he says: “You have a responsibility to help others to gain the same opportunities that you had. I talk about my experiences at Durham, I tell people to go there.” Mathur also meets up regularly with former Durham students who live and work in and around London. “We exchange experiences. It keeps thefraternity going. I don’t think of it as alumni, I think of it as family. I even met my wife on the course.” STEVE COOMBER


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MBA

Breaking the mould

THE TIMES Monday October 5 2009

www.timesonline.co.uk/mba

Shaping up for the future Stuart Crainer looks at the way schools are evolving

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usiness schools come in all shapes and sizes. Their programmes, methods of delivery, types of teaching and even their names are in a constant state of flux. More change is anticipated. “Over the next few years we will see global for-profit organisations with centralised design and distributed delivery, but with quality problems and an over-emphasis on money, competing with business schools,” predicts Kai Peters, chief executive of Ashridge Business School, which is pictured right. Recent months have seen a number of developments that may point to the shape of the business school of the future. In July it was announced that Peter Lorange. a Norwegian professor, had bought the Zurich-based Graduate School of Business Administration (GSBA) for £2.8 million. He stepped down as president of the Swiss business school IMD last year. After 15 years leading one of the world’s bestknown schools Lorange prepared to head off into the educational sunset. But he re-emerged to attempt to set the business school agenda again. GBSA is a minnow In the business school firmament. Its turnover last year was £5 million and it has about

900 students. It is known for its Living Case Study and focus on linking practice to theory. This is music to Lorange’s ears because he has lamented the functional focus of much executive education. In his blueprint for the future of business education, Thought Leadership Meets Business, he observed: “I believe the traditional, axiomatic, discipline-based research to be less valid than it was before and that the interplay between best practice — the prescriptive knowledge coming from the best firms — and

Many are watching how Lorange’s model develops research — the propositional knowledge coming from professors — can give rise to an alternative model for academic value-creation.” Many in the business school world are watching to see how Lorange’s alternative model develops. The second summer change was the announcement of the creation of the Jack Welch Management Insti-

tute at Chancellor University in Cleveland, Ohio. Welch, the legendary former chief executive of General Electric, stepped down in 2001. Since then he has become more famous — and wealthier — thanks to a series of bestselling books, magazine columns and worldwide appearances and, now, a business school, backed by a $12 million investment. The third important change in the business school world was that the American company Apollo Global bought BPP, owner of BPP Business School, for £303 million. BPP is significant because it is the first private sector organisation in the country with powers to award degrees. The school opened in January and is led by Chris Brady, formerly at Cass Business School and Bournemouth University Business School, where he was dean. “We could be at the tipping point in higher education in Europe,” he predicts. “The interesting thing is that it is the private sector that is driving wider participation.” BPP has tailored an MBA for a law firm and is looking to develop in the MBA market. Where does it aim to be in five years’ time? “We want to fit with the learning needs of students. We are looking to develop a more American-style MBA targeted at people with two or three years’ experience, as well as an Executive MBA.”

All set to ‘change lives for the better’ The Jack Welch Management Institute will offer two accredited graduate-level degree programmes — an MBA and a Master of Management. Delivery will be mainly online, Stuart Crainer writes. “We think this school, with its fresh approach, reach, accessibility and flexibility, has the potential to change lives and organisations for the better,” says Welch, the former chief executive of General Electric (GE). The Institute, in Cleveland, Ohio, will

be led by Noel Tichy, previously head of GE’s famous Leadership Center at Crotonville, New York. Welch’s involvement will include weekly online video updates about business and news issues. Not everybody is convinced of the merits of a school centred on the work and thoughts of Welch, however. “I think an MBA devoted to one individual is wrong because management is contextual,” says Peter Cohan, an American consultant and author.


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Face to face

All the fun of the fair

MBA DUNCAN PHILLIPS

MBA events are drawing more interest, writes Simon Midgley

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re MBA fairs anachronistic? The question of whether these encounters — between discerning candidates and business schools selling the virtues of their courses — are beyond their sell-by date has become a matter of controversy. The internet has made researching what schools have to offer as easy as a few clicks of a computer mouse. Or has it? Not so, says Simon Stockley, full-time MBA course director at Imperial College Business School. Fairs are as useful as they have ever been simply because there is no substitute for human contact, he says. “People buy people. If you meet a candidate, show an interest in them, listen to what they want and give completely impartial advice, then that is what gets results. “Going to fairs is much more about listening than it is about telling; understanding what people want and being very honest with them if your programme is not right for them. “There have been occasions when people have come to fairs and said, ‘I am thinking about Imperial, these are my objectives and this is my background’, and I have to say to them, ‘Well, I am sorry, but I think you might be better off talking to so and so’. Ultimately, people respect and appreciate honesty.” Jeanette Purcell, chief executive of the Association of MBAs, says that

more and more candidates have been coming to MBA fairs because of the difficult economic climate. “Although there are more online sources of information they still feel the need to come to fairs,” she says. “However, the kind of visitor has changed,” she adds. Five to six years ago people turned up at fairs asking questions such as what exactly is an MBA? “Now people do more research before they come and have probably identified two or three business schools to choose from. And they visit the stands of those specific business

Going online does not give a sense of the school’s culture schools to get their particular questions answered.” Maggi Preddy, MBA admissions and marketing manager at Bath University’s School of Management, says: “MBA prospects are very web-savvy and intuitive about their use of the internet to compare and contrast information across all programmes.” Zoya Zaitseva is global operations manager for the organiser of the fairs,

There is no substitute for face to face contact when researching the virtues of the many MBA courses on offer

QS World MBA Tour, for which The Times is the media partner, She says: “However much time the candidates spend online it still does not give them a sense of the school’s culture. Without talking to the admissions officers, current students and alumni, it’s difficult to understand whether they would be comfortable in that particular environment or not. “If you look at the websites of five to ten business schools they can look much the same. How do you know whether this school has a teamworking or a competitive environment? ” Rachael Killian, MBA marketing and recruitment manager at Warwick Business School, says: “The fairs are about the face to face contact that gives candidates intangibles about a school.”

‘I wanted to check that they were nice’ Rebecca Crallan, 32, went to an MBA fair in Manchester last summer to find out whether Warwick Business School was the place to do an Executive MBA. A scientist with a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge and a doctorate from the University of York, Crallan wanted to show her business acumen by acquiring a business qualification. Crallan, who now works in the business strategy development department of a York-based company that designs medical devices, says: “I had a good idea

already that Warwick was my top choice but I wanted to check that the people running the school were not really odd, that they didn’t have two heads and they were nice, approachable people. “I just wanted to make sure it looked like a professional operation. “I checked some things I had read — that you could, for example, be flexible about when you could take specific modules. “It’s one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I’m really enjoying it.” SIMON MIDGLEY


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THE TIMES Monda

Prophets of profit

www.timeso

Challenge over tea Students took their skills to Kenyan plantations. Widget Finn reports

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he not for profit sector is increasingly part of mainstream business education. There are professorships in social enterprise, MBA options on working for a charity and MBA projects based on not for profit organisations. A team of five MBA students at Cambridge’s Judge Business School was invited by the Fairtrade Foundation to look at the business case for introducing low-carbon energy sources and improved energy efficiency to tea producers in Kenya. The business school approached the foundation suggesting that students could do a consultancy project for the charity. Chris Davies, director of producer partnerships at the Fairtrade Foundation, says: “The timing was serendipitous. The huge increases in fuel costs mean that businesses in the developing world need an alternative, clean energy to survive. “We wanted a feasibility study and business plan for introducing lowcarbon energy sources and improved energy efficiency, but it is difficult for

Here were clever, experienced people keen to take on the project a charity to finance research projects. Here were clever. experienced people keen to take on the challenge.” Sian Herschel, with a background in international trade, Liz Ryan, a consultant with experience in Africa, and Kate Colarulli, who had worked in the American not for profit sector, were inspired by a talk about the work of the Fairtrade Foundation to base their MBA project on an aspect of the charity. Two more team members were needed and Kevin Kerr and Axel Meiling, both with engineering backgrounds, joined the team. The consulting project was scheduled for four weeks over Easter after an initial conversation with Fairtrade last year. The team started researching and following up contacts in government and NGOs to get an overview of renewable energy, carbon trading and the Kenyan tea industry. They spent five days in Kenya visiting plantations to understand the production process and distribution network. Kerr, who had worked as a petroleum engineer in Australia, did an energy audit. “It was crucial to do this on site,” he says, “as a significant level

of knowledge only emerged during conversations with the local plant operators and technicians.” He found that the key challenge in developing the final recommendations was to achieve the right level of detail. “We wanted them to be practicable but not so specific to Kenyan tea producers that they could not be applied to other producers elsewhere.” The time constraints were also a challenge but the team was well prepared, says Herschel. “Before our brief visit to Kenya we had built up a level of expertise and had a good idea of what we were going into. On arrival we split up to cover a lot of ground.” The study found that energy-saving methods and financially viable alternative energy sources could reduce dependence on the national grid. Davies was satisfied with the findings and impressed with the delivery. “My concern was that bringing in an external consultant can be time-consuming, but the team was incredibly efficient at translating our brief meetings into a work programme, and I liked its can-do, entrepreneurial approach.” For the MBA team, working on the project brought its rewards. Herschel says: “I gained experience in the renewable energy area and learnt that you can have a large impact with small investment.” Kerr realised “the importance of human relations in implementing strategic plans”. Fairtrade, Davies concludes, had the benefit of a consultancy team with an international background which brought a fresh, unbiased view, along with rigorous research and access to the latest management thinking.

Teaming up: Cecilia Maina, Kevin Kerr, Moiro Omari, Charles Kaberia, Kate Colarulli, Cackson Mochache, Liz Ryan, Margare

Growth of the not for profit sector boosts professionalism Many MBA students have a highly developed sense of giving back to the community, which is reflected in formal and informal ways, including volunteering schemes. Academic chairs are also being created to enhance the professionalism of workers in the not for profit sector. More than 250 new MBA students at the Tuck School of Business in America spend time working with charities in their area, learning how their business knowledge can make a difference. They may then volunteer to do pro bono consulting to the

organisations throughout their programme. While MBA volunteers give their time and management experience to charities, the not for profit sector is now seen as an area where professionalism and rigorous management is as important as in the commercial sector. Reims Management School is among the academic establishments that have recognised this, by introducing a chair in management of non-profit organisations and social business. Closer links between academia and the voluntary

sector have been forged at Henley Business School, part of Reading University, where 10 per cent of students come from a non-profit background. The college has a Centre for Voluntary Sector Management, the director of which, Professor Stephen Lee, is a former chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising. Increasingly, the not for profit sector and the business world acknowledge that they can learn much from each other, not only through voluntary work but also as part of management education. WIDGET FINN

Students swear to serve the greater good as MBA O Stuart Crainer

looks at efforts to lift the image of management

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anagement has never been taken seriously as a profession, despite sporadic campaigns to elevate it alongside law, accountancy and the like. Its professional ambitions have been constrained by the lack of clarity or uniformity in what managers actually do. Also, the stereotype of the average MBA graduate as a grasping, bottom-line fixated financial manipulator has not helped. Now the balance is being redressed. A group of 33 second-year

students on Harvard Business School’s MBA programme have created an MBA Oath as a way of establishing clear and unequivocal professional standards. The tone of the oath is a combination of the US Constitution and an annual report: “As a manager my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognise my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the wellbeing of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face choices that are not easy for me and others.” Eight promises follow. They

include: “I will act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner” and “I will strive to create sustainable economic, social and environmental prosperity worldwide.” The popularity of the MBA Oath is surpassing all expectations. The initial aim was to persuade 100 of the Harvard class of 2009 to sign up. At the last count more than 1,600 MBA students worldwide had taken the pledge. Among them was Carlos Silva, an MBA student at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. “Given the problems of the downturn and their origins, it is important to show that

the majority of MBA students don’t only think of their careers and money,” he says. “They think about their social responsibilities. It is the right message.” Another Saïd MBA student, Katharine Hill, echoes this point: “I think there was probably a very different feel to our MBA programme than those which had gone before. The context is different. “By signing the oath I wanted to make a public point that an MBA is not solely focused on finance and making use of financial knowledge. The oath makes sense to people throughout the world. It is a bit cheesy perhaps, but I would rather be associated with the oath than with some of the other associations of an MBA.” One of the influences behind the Harvard oath was an article by the


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MBA

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KEVIN KERR

Third sector is first choice for many students Stephen Hoare reports on a growing

niche where ethics make a difference

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et Gachinga and Sian Herschel at the tea factory in Kenya, where the aim was to introduce low-carbon energy sources LAURA DECAPUA

MBA students at Tuck School of Business work with local charities and may go on to provide consultancy services

Oath spreads from Harvard Harvard Business School professors Rakesh Khurana and Nitin Nohria, which argued the case for management’s acceptance as a profession and proposed an equivalent of the medical profession’s Hippocratic Oath for managers. “If management were to be seen as a true profession guided by a broadly agreed upon and shared global code of business conduct, our expectations of the moral conduct of managers and their expectations in themselves would rise. This can be an important step in restoring the frayed trust in business and capitalism,” they said. Some are sceptical. Henry Mintzberg, author of Managers Not MBAs, is a long-time critic of standard MBA programmes. “If Jeff Skilling, the exPresident of Enron who is now in jail, was faced with this when he was at Harvard Business School, he would

have signed in a flash. All this nonsense does is indicate how disconnected the business schools are from reality. “Ethics is not some case study debated furiously by people utterly removed from the issues. Unfortunately it becomes that when people so trained are given responsibility for corporations. Management is a practice rooted in context, not a profession based on pronouncements.” Pronouncements are on the rise, nonetheless. A different approach is taken by Canada’s Richard Ivey School of Business. Every one of its graduates takes a pledge on graduating to act ethically and with integrity. They are then presented with an Ivey Ring. The rings have a unique serial number and are not for sale. For some, professional management comes with a ring attached.

I promise to . . . The Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona has introduced an MBA Oath: “As a Thunderbird and a global citizen, I promise: 0 I will strive to act with honesty and integrity 0 I will respect the rights and dignity of all people 0 I will strive to create sustainable prosperity worldwide 0 I will oppose all forms of corruption and exploitation and I will take responsibility for my actions 0 As I hold true to these principles, it is my hope that I may enjoy an honourable reputation and peace of conscience. This pledge I make freely and upon my honour”

eclining employment prospects in banking and finance coupled with a desire for more meaningful work have led to an increase in the number of MBA students looking to build careers in social enterprise and the not for profit sector. Lumped together under the label “third sector”, not for profit organisations, charities and social enterprise form a fast growing niche with strong links to corporate social responsibility. The sector is increasing its share of MBA employment. About 10 per cent of Cass Business School MBA students are either from the third sector or are hoping to work in the field. Paul Palmer, professor of voluntary sector management, says: “Having the chief executive of a social enterprise or a director of an NGO adds to the diversity of the student group.” Palmer, who divides his time between the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness and teaching sustainability and corporate ethics on the MBA course, points to a link between corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship. The website socialenterprise.org.uk lists for profit ethical businesses in areas such as recycling, fair trade, carbon offsetting and renewable energy. Many are offshoots of large businesses. Interest in the third sector is partly down to a generational shift in attitudes. Ashridge Business School carried out a survey of the learning preferences of Generation Y, the age group born after 1982. The research paper, Generation Y: Inside Out, found that a renewed interest in ethics could reshape the direction of the MBA. Sue Honoré, associate learning consultant, says: “There is more of a ‘society’ feel to this generation. It has grown up with climate change and sustainability. Generation Y wants something more than just a job.” Research is helping to fuel interest. Henley Business School, part of Reading University, has a Centre for Voluntary Sector Management. Susan Rose, associate head of the School of Management, says: “Companies are starting to develop initiatives or business units with a specific remit to work collaboratively with not for profit organisations on areas such as climate change or the environment.” Oxford University’s Saïd Business School is home to the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. The centre’s director, Pamela Hartigan, says: “Social entrepreneurs are looking at ‘how do I create value for society?’ It’s not about ‘me and padding my pockets’.” But while such people may be optimistic and visionary they are not necessarily good managers. Hartigan says: “What the sector needs is really good managers and the MBA plays a valuable part in this.”

While the bulk of MBA students still aspire to high-earning careers in finance or consultancy, there is a new ethical awareness. Rose observes: “Ethics is the new differentiator. Students selecting an employer now ask what action the company is taking on climate change or sustainability.” Placed number one in the UK for integrating ethics with business teaching by a recent survey, Nottingham University Business School owes its reputation to its International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility. Julie Blant, postgraduate careers service manager, says: “About 80 per cent of students who have taken the social enterprise or corporate social responsibility strands to the MBA find work in a related roles. It’s nothing to do with the banking crisis but everything to do with the notion of ethical products and fair trade.”

Aiming for the top Halfway through the “seven summits”, a sponsorship challenge that involves climbing the highest peak on each of the world’s continents, MBA student Jason Watkins, of Nottingham University Business School, is putting social responsibility into action, Stephen Hoare writes. He has Mount Aconagua in the Andes, Mount Vinson in Antarctica and Everest left to conquer. Watkins, 39, is as ambitious about raising money for mental health and children’s charities as he is about his plans to set up an online business helping homeowners to make energy savings. He is one of a growing breed of MBA students who believe it is possible to combine making a profit with a social conscience. He says his MBA in entrepreneurship has taught him a lot about himself and what he is capable of doing. “Social enterprise is not going to make me rich but if I can help others by running an ethical business and still make a profit, that is sufficient. I’m a humanitarian.” His course includes modules in corporate social responsibility and social enterprise. Having sold one business, Kitbag.com, at the height of the dot-com bubble for £20 million and currently running Sapio Solutions, a provider of e-commerce packages, the energetic Watkins finds that ethical business has a lot more in store than he imagined. He says: “There’s a core of about ten students on my course who are interested in social enterprise.”


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Distance learning

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Pioneer proves that it can go the distance

High achiever

Steve Coomber considers the Open University’s appeal

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t is a year of celebration for the Open University Business School, which announced its 20,000th MBA graduate earlier this summer. The school is also marking its 25th anniversary — a quarter of a century pioneering the concept of distance-learning business education and awarding more than 90,000 qualifications along the way. The business school has certainly made an impact in the MBA world, acknowledges Jeanette Purcell, chief executive of the Association of MBAs. “It is a shining example of achieving credibility for distance learning and flexible learning, proving that high-quality MBA programmes can be delivered by that route,” she says. Dr Chris Martin, associate director of strategic alliances at Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, was thrust into the spotlight in June when he was announced as the 20,000th MBA graduate. Martin, who also has a PhD in chemistry, opted for an Open University MBA after moving from a specialist scientific role into a management position. He says: “Six months into the job I realised that, if I was going to be serious about making the move from science into a business career, I

needed more management skills and to be able to demonstrate to others that I could succeed in that role.” One of the most important features of the learning experience is the teaching philosophy — a blend of theory and practice. Postgraduates are encouraged to apply what they learn to their work. Distance-learning programmes are not without their critics. Some argue

If I were 20 years old, I would not do a PhD again but I would do the MBA that this method lacks student interaction, an important element of the learning experience on conventional face-to-face MBA courses. This criticism is rejected by Rob Paton, professor in social enterprise, who has been with the business school since it was founded. “It is true that people learn as much from their fellow students as they do

THE TIMES Monday October 5 2009

from their teachers and that is why peer interaction is written into the MBA programme in a big way. There is a lot of online collaboration, for example, which is important because it mimics virtual teamwork in the real world, a skill that people must learn.” Other programmes that can be done off campus include Henley Business School’s global distance learning MBA. In America the John Sperling School of Business at the University of Phoenix is listed as having an astonishing 40,000 students working towards the qualification by distance learning. Another bonus of distance learning is the ever-expanding alumni network. Paton says: “We have a vigorous international peer and alumni group, numbering more than 50,000 across 70 countries.” With postgraduate demand for management qualifications growing, the Open University Business School brand of practical distance learning could be the ideal way to deliver business education to time-pressed executives. “It was hard work but I really enjoyed my MBA,” Martin says. “It was definitely worth the investment. “If I were 20 I wouldn’t do a PhD again but I would do the MBA.”

Thein passed with flying colours

Christian Thein, an airline pilot, enrolled on a distance-learning MBA through the Open University Business School after being “parachuted” into a middle management job at Luxair, Steve Coomber writes. “I had no knowledge of management. It was learning by doing, which is a very painful process,” says Thein, whose efforts were rewarded when he was named the business school’s MBA Student of the Year 2008. Thein had been promoted to assistant vice-president of crew training for Luxembourg’s national carrier, while continuing to fly. He subsequently became an airline captain as well as a ground course instructor but felt he needed the expertise for any future management assignments. The distance-learning MBA fitted in with his job and Open University support was available in Luxembourg. Thein found the business school’s practical approach particularly useful. “For my strategic level project I did a culture analysis of my company and introduced a set of corporate values. I now know my airline much better.” He adds: “The MBA changes your thinking; you challenge other people’s assumptions. It teaches you that theory does not provide all the answers.”


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Job market

MBA

Slump fails to dent salaries MBA graduates are faring better than expected, says Nunzio Quacquarelli

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espite many commentators comparing this financial crisis with the Great Depression, people graduating with an MBA have fared remarkably well in the job market. In particular, salaries at this level seem to be holding firm, suggesting quite strong residual demand. Hiring of MBA graduates in Europe has certainly been affected by the recession. William Dávila, of IE Business School, says: “Weakness in demand in financial services is affecting placement figures. But nonfinancial recruiting is strong and many companies are taking advantage of the banking cutbacks to hire top talent.” Phillipa Hain, of London Business School, agrees: “MBA graduates are having to look beyond finance. Our career services team is redirecting them towards other career opportunities. Coca-Cola, Rolls-Royce and the Clinton Foundation are among the companies attending our Industry Career Fair for MBA graduates.” In America MBA graduates struggling to find work have been those with little or no work experience, those looking for a major career

change, or international students who cannot find a corporate sponsor. Boston University feared that only 50 per cent of graduates would be in employment three months after graduation this year but, in the event, more than 85 per cent have found jobs, says Hayden Estrada, assistant dean of graduate admissions. In parts of Asia the picture is positively rosy. Demand for MBA graduates in China and India is at record levels. The Shanghai local authority has even funded the launch of its own business school, Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, after employers in China could not find enough graduates returning from America and European business schools. It is not just China where demand is strong. Edward Hyun, business development director for American Express’s global network services in Asia, says MBA graduates are being hired to meet leadership needs throughout the region. “Even during difficult economic conditions we remain committed to our MBA hiring programme, not just in Asia but around the world.” As a result of this demand, salary figures remain remarkably robust. Yasuko Furuichi, of IMD, reveals that

GETTY IMAGES

Strong demand means that salaries for MBA students are holding up well

the current class has achieved a £78,000 average salary, compared with £76,000 last year, plus an average sign-on bonus of £17,000. Luke Li, of Duke University’s Fuqua School, estimates that its graduates earn an average salary of $100,000 (£62,000), the same as the previous year, with bonuses of about £14,000. At the top end of the MBA salary range, Amy Armstrong, marketing manager at Ashridge Business School, reports an average salary of £135,000 this year, compared with £115,000 last year, for MBAs who average 12 years of work experience. Both Sony Europe and the consulting firm BCG in London confirm that their MBA salary offers are certainly no lower than they were last year. Why are MBA graduates doing better than expected in the recession? Allwin Agnel, managing director of the Indian MBA website PaGalGuy, says: “The friends and network formed during an MBA can be a key success factor in a world where networks play an increasing vital role in global business.” James Platt, a partner at the consultancy BCG in London, adds: “We have to maintain the quality standards of the people we hire and to do that we need to pay competitive packages. We have not seen any reduction in competition for top talent.” Nunzio Quacquarelli is a director of the QS World MBA Tour


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Academic dragons

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A reminder of the real world in the classroom Stuart Crainer looks at the use of executives in residence

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he relationship between business schools and the real world of business has been the subject of a rumbling debate since the very first schools saw the light of day. Over recent years, the gulf between the two sides has often seemed to be widening. Schools throughout the world have emphasised the power of research, seeking to turn business into an exact science rather than the often random combination of art and science that practitioners encounter. Some business school academics have a bad case of what has been called “physics envy”, an urge towards ever more obscure research in the quest for academic credibility. But reality is striking back. Increasingly, business school faculty lists have reassuring nods in the direction of business reality. A growing number of faculty members call themselves professors of “management practice”. And many schools now include an “executive in residence”, an experienced business leader in situ to teach and offer guidance. Some have taken this a stage further with entrepreneurs in resi-

dence, working on the theory that magic dust will somehow be dispersed by the very presence of an entrepreneur. James Caan, one of the stars of TV’s Dragons’ Den, spent time as an entrepreneur in residence at London Business School. Among those leading the way is Columbia Business School in New

My role is to help students to find that passion inside to do something York, which has a long-established executives-in-residence programme. Retired and semi-retired executives lecture and teach on the school’s MBA programmes but also act as career counsellors. The executives — currently ten — are appointed by the school’s dean on renewable one-year terms. They include Robert Essner, former chairman and chief executive

of the healthcare and pharmaceutical company Wyeth, and Richard Zannino, former chief executive of Dow Jones, the business information provider. Closer to home, the UK’s Ashridge Business School has two executivesin-residence: Jon Walmsley, a British publisher, and Maximilian Kammerer, a Nokia vice-president. Lancaster University Management School has an entrepreneur-in-residence, Ian Gordon, who is researching the role of non-executive directors and business mentors and their impact on small business growth. The University of Surrey’s entrepreneur-in-residence is Nigel Biggs. The founder of Pixology and Passionate Innovation says: “My role is to help students and staff to be enterprising and find that passion inside to do something to make a difference.” At Manchester Metropolitan University Business School Mark Simms has been appointed to a new post of entrepreneur-in-residence within Innospace — the school’s start-up business incubator. Simms is a former marketing director of Kellogg’s and a serial entrepreneur. He will combine his new post with working on the

Dragon in residence: James Caan spent time at London Business School

launch of a new company producing sports protection equipment. A long-term supporter of the concept is Cambridge’s Judge Business School, which has had a chief executive-in-residence programme since 2001. The current occupant is Kevin Roberts, chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide. Roberts holds masterclasses for students and hosts topical discussions. Sceptics would suggest that all this is window dressing, but entrepreneurs and executives do tend to throw them-

selves into new roles with energy and enthusiasm. The sign that business schools are genuinely influencing the world of business is when academics move in the opposite direction. Vijay Govindarajan, of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School, is currently professor-in-residence and chief innovation consultant at General Electric. If one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world can involve a professor so closely in its development, many more are sure to follow.


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Bespoke degrees

MBA

Courses made to measure for business needs

ALAMY

Stephen Hoare finds programmes

are being tailored to suit the specific requirements of firms

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hree years ago Cass Business School and Lovells, the international law firm, launched a business education course for newly qualified solicitors. Divided into two levels, introduction and masterclass, the training was going to be preparation for the Cass executive MBA. As 25 lawyers completed their masterclasses this summer, Lovells reviewed the programme and decided to abandon the MBA syllabus for a more pragmatic approach. To be relevant and engaging, education has to align itself to the needs of the business, says Chris Stoakes, director of knowledge research and training. “This is about content, not paper qualifications,” he says. “We have decided, with Cass’s help, to design and deliver modules that completely reflect our practice.” Now that Lovells is no longer concerned with matching the MBA accreditation the firm has found that it can include a hefty slice of customer relationship management as well as masterclasses in actuarial practice and insurance — two key areas commercial lawyers need to understand. Stoakes is delighted: “The new training will contain a lot more of what Cass has to offer. It will be more relevant.” This is business education made to measure. And there is evidence that

many other firms are looking for business schools to deliver a more bespoke offering. PricewaterhouseCoopers, for example, runs a business diploma with London Business School, a qualification usually regarded as the first step towards an MBA. With 80 to 100 managers going through the five-year training programme, the course is now under review and a change of direction is likely. “The diploma as envisaged has changed in the five years since we launched it,” says a PwC spokesman. “We are looking at a wider context for the accounting qualification and broader themes such as leadership

Everything you look at would be from the perspective of that company and commercial awareness. The diploma is being designed around our business needs.” Higher up the food chain, the tailored, company-specific MBA is holding its own with large corporate sponsors who value the control it

Law firms and other professionals bodies are looking for business schools to deliver a more bespoke offering

gives over their investment. Hugh Evans, the director of corporate learning at Henley Business School, part of Reading University, says: “Where tailored MBAs extract most value is that the student assignments can all be addressing key issues in the business and looking for resolutions.” However, under Association of MBA accreditation, business schools that deliver company-specific programmes have to control entry qualifications and assessment and stick to the core Harvard module content. Charlie Wilkinson, head of executive education and MBA director at Bournemouth University Business School, would rather not go down this road. “Single-organisation MBAs are unlikely to provide the breadth of coverage of a general MBA,” he says. “Everything would inevitably be from the perspective of that company.” The single organisation focus is not

necessarily a weakness in a company as large and as diverse as IBM. The Warwick Business School IBM MBA is designed to cater for the needs of a distributed workforce drawn from across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. With Warwick faculty flying out to run residential courses across Europe, IBM regards the programme as a way to bring its teams together. Rachel Killian, marketing and recruitment manager for Warwick, says: “IBM executives need to network and this MBA has them all working in teams across countries.” The other made-to-measure feature of IBM’s MBA is its blended learning, a mix of residential weekend classes and online learning. Killian adds: “We worked closely with IBM on the design of the programme because it was concerned about employees completing the course.”

Legal opinion Steven McEwan began the Lovells/Cass business foundation course at Cass in 2007, Stephen Hoare writes. McEwan specialises in financial services and his work brings him into contact with legal departments and commercial managers from many of the UK’s insurance groups and investment banks. Business education was an attractive career development option, he says. “I think the Cass programme has given me the extra confidence in dealing with business clients. “In terms of the time spent, I think it was well worth the effort.”


Times MBA Guide October 2009  

MBA Guide from The Times

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