According to Erik Schlie, who runs (Associate Dean of ) MBA programmes at Spain’s IE business school, learning from the mistakes of the past is essential.
The IE programmes encourage participants to “look at certain scandals of the past” in order for them to develop a “broader sense of responsibilities”. Ethics and corporate social responsibility are on the agenda everywhere, with an emphasis on reflective practise.
“I ask participants at the very beginning of the programme: ‘what kind of manager, what kind of person, do you want to be?’,” says Prof Schlie.
For many, this has meant a shift away from the traditional MBA path of a career in the not-so-sustainable financial services industry.
For the current generation, “there is more to care about than getting your next investment banking job,” says Prof Schlie, noting that more and more of his students are seeking careers in not-for-profits and social enterprises
At IE, Prof Schlie runs “change modules”, where students work with real businesses to help them improve their performance.
One of this year’s exercises is to help a Brazilian business, a beauty salon company catering for “base of the pyramid” consumers who live on less than $2-$3 a day. This example is emblematic of another theme in the business education of the future – globalisation.
“The future is more blended, more global,” notes Prof Schlie. Indeed, as well as offering international experience, most good MBA courses include a placement abroad.