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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Business world and business schools face similar challenges and opportunities

Photo: Fiona Devine
Fiona Devine, Dean of Manchester Business School writes, "Globalisation is a phenomenon we see increasingly across business, with the world economy more interconnected than ever. Companies are seemingly able and willing to do business in markets far removed from their bases, manufacturing plants or operations centres."

Many business functions are outsourced and virtualised around the world as firms search for efficiencies, cost reductions and flexibility — to free-up resources and to concentrate on whatever it is they do best.

Talent is also increasingly mobile, as we can clearly see from the Manchester Business School’s Middle East part-time MBA programme, with students of 90 nationalities, many of them residing in the UAE, drawn here by the attractive career opportunities. And many are staying here longer and building careers, which means training and development opportunities are important — something the UAE scores very highly on; the country was ranked sixth for higher education and training by the World Economic Forum in the latest Global Competitiveness Report.

I recently had the privilege in Dubai of presiding over the Middle East graduation ceremony for the latest group of part-time MBA students. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of my role. But this is not the end; business education — as with all education — is a lifelong journey and not an end in itself.

Where will these new MBA graduates go and what will they do? Many are already doing it — moving on, moving up and starting up.

But the business world is moving faster and is more complex than ever; as we move out of one of the worst economic crises, and with disruptive technology wreaking havoc in practically every industry, plotting a career course can be a challenge. So how will an MBA benefit a businessperson today, in the midst of all this tumultuous change?

It is precisely this change that makes learning so worthwhile; the capacity to remain flexible, open to new ideas, adaptable and continuing to learn new skills while maintaining an understanding of the very dynamic business world — this is itself an absolute necessity on which to build a career.

Technology is driving change and redefining business and whole industries — education included. It is also underpinning the increasing globalisation of business — education included. It is therefore both the problem and the solution.

This technology disruption is presenting unique opportunities in education — for example, for students to take in lectures in some of the world’s leading seats of learning.

The scale and reach of mass open online courses truly impressive. Manchester Business School’s first, launched last year, has attracted more than 17,000 enrolments from 184 countries.
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Source: The National


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