Time to innovate MBA schools

Extrait de: Time to innovate: the future of traditional business schools, FT, By Della Bradshaw, January 31 2011

Global MBA ranking 2011

For Monisha Varadan and Joachim Vandaele, life is not quite how they envisaged it when they enrolled in the Insead MBA just a year ago. Next month, they are due to become owners of a large internet training company. It has been a particular surprise for Varadan – a former journalist who then worked in the City of London – because it was at Insead, she says, where she had her first experience of entrepreneurship.

Indeed it was just six months ago that Varadan, 30, and Vandaele, 32, first worked together, during a course designed to identify companies ripe for a buy-out.

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Now they have constructed a business plan, raised private equity capital and put their lessons into practice. “The real test of the MBA is when you go back to the real world to test your learning,” says Vandaele, a former banker and consultant.

Although the numbers are still small, a growing percentage of MBA graduates are opting to become entrepreneurs. At MIT Sloan, 8.4 per cent of MBA students who graduated in 2010 started their own companies on graduation, one of the highest proportions to date. At Harvard Business School, between 35 and 45 students followed the same path.

The move is a direct reaction to the recession, says Jana Kierstead, managing director of MBA career and professional development at Harvard. “These people have seen a lot. They have seen their parents laid off; they have seen their friends laid off. They were profoundly affected by seeing their colleagues pack their boxes and leave.”

The banking scandals of 2008-09 and the subsequent breakdown of trust in business have led business schools to an inflection point. The coming year will be critical for their continued bid to rebuild the tarnished MBA brand and for laying the foundation for the business schools of the future.

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Traditional, campus-based MBA programmes in the US and Europe are facing more competition than ever owing to accelerating growth in the number of schools in developing countries and an explosion in online learning.

How will the world’s top business schools, especially those in the US, become global players? And how will they build scale while retaining quality?