MBA programs in the era of disruptive technologies

The final discussion of 2018 Gaidar Forum, MBA Programs in the Era of Disruptive Technologies, gathered representatives of different business schools who shared their vision of how teaching in the modern world should change considering the new challenges.

The moderator, CEO of AMBA International Andrew Main Wilson, presented the results of the AMBA market research in Russia. At the moment, 12 schools in Russia have AMBA accreditation, the speaker noted. The most common program is a two-year course, which can be combined with work. Mr. Wilson added that among MBA teachers in Russia, many have their own practical experience in the area. Around 75% of business schools offer MBA programs that focus on specific industries and their specifics. “An entrepreneur must have versatile business skills, because the chance of failure in business is high. They need to understand the strategy, operational issues, finance, and marketing,” the expert said.

First Deputy Director of the Graduate School of Management at Saint Petersburg State University Konstantin Krotov said that in a rapidly changing reality, it is essential that company leaders quickly make decisions and restructure their business. They rarely have time to choose an MBA program or take a course, therefore you should offer mini-courses.

Partner of IMD Russia and the CIS (Lausanne) Valeria Pavlyukovskaya noted there is much dissatisfaction and criticism of modern MBA programs. Schools are compelled to constantly reinvent things to meet the needs of business. “Knowledge has become a perishable product,” the expert believes, as it is not clear which professions will go, which will be in demand, and who will teach them. “Ongoing training, development, and practice of new skills have become daily routine,” she added.

She also spoke about a recent IMD business school study which identified the main qualities and skills of a modern leader: modesty, the ability to adapt to new people and new realities, visionary skills, dedication, hyperresponsiveness, informed decision-making, and fast implementation.

In her opinion, in addition to the core business education, MBA programs should focus on the students’ understanding and knowledge of themselves, development of agile leadership, fostering of technologically advanced leaders, regardless of their educational experience. It is also important to instantly apply the knowledge gained in practice to solve business problems.

Dean of Antwerp Management School Paul Matthyssens also stressed that new skills are needed in the modern world. Flexible leaders must catch trends that are only being formed, or even predict them. They must trace similarities and be able to interpret events.

A leader should think within the framework of multilateral platforms, create networks, use big data and cloud technologies, be an agent of change, motivate professionals and make wise decisions, the expert added.

Dean of RANEPA Graduate School of Corporate Management Sergey Kalendzhyan noted that Russian business schools are more difficult to work with than their Western counterparts, since they often have to grow in a declining market.

Olga Gumilevskaya, a leading specialist of the international projects department of RANEPA Graduate School of Corporate Management, researcher at the Economics and Business Development Laboratory, listed the main trends that are important for business schools, such as globalization, the development of new technologies, and the labor market transformation. “To maintain competitiveness and sustainability in this environment, a business school must meet the needs of all stakeholders and respond to changes in the environment,” the speaker concluded.

President of the Wharton Alumni Association in Russia Vyacheslav Romanov called MBA programs the most advanced education. Graduates of business schools become key elements in companies. The best business schools teach how to master a new skill in a week, how to make decisions in limited time and information, how to network, to be creative and manage people. Gaining experience at work is the fastest and most effective way of development, which school cases aren’t, the speaker added. Therefore, internships, field trips to companies and global modular courses are obvious priorities in business education.

In conclusion, Global Leader for PwC Strategy and Leadership Development Blair Sheppard pointed out a modern paradox: “The role of business schools is to educate innovators who will push these institutions out of business in the future.”

New technologies have side effects, and universities should think about the consequences of new technologies before implementing them. 

The organizers include the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute) and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The program outline is available at the forum website.

Participation is free; preliminary registration is required.

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The general partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom and Gazprombank; strategic partners include Novartis, Johnson&Johnson, RZD, MSD, AstraZeneca, the ACIG Group of Companies, Mastercard, Coca-Cola, Russian Agricultural Bank, Pharmstandard JSC, Microsoft; O1 Group, Unilever, EY, Russian Brewers’ Union, Russian Direct Investment Fund are partners and RVC.

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