“MBA Market Faces Winds of Change”
Earlier this year, Della Bradshaw, in an article for the Financial Times, raised several interesting questions regarding the changing make up of the MBA programme. Bradshaw discussed how two forces – demand and competition – are steering a move away from the traditional two-year American MBA model. As a businessman who studied an MBA between LBS and Colombia, I take a great interest in the future workforce that will be generated from the next generation of MBA students.
Institutions offering MBAs are having to adapt to students enrolling from an ever wider range of environments and industries. MBA programmes are no longer primed to churn out investment banker, after investment banker, and as such the courses need to be atoned to those students from the likes of media and telecoms. This is especially true post Lehman Brothers. Additionally, the new generation of non-investment-banker MBAs are often unable to suffer the career and personal implications of a lengthy – and costly – MBA. Instead they are looking for shorter courses or executive programmes with a specialist focus. After all, these are business people; they want value for time.
The second change is the growing number of institutions around the world offering respectable and esteemed MBAs. Bradshaw argued these newer institutions on the MBA circuit are quicker to respond to the demands of current students. Key to this shift in the MBA programme is the ongoing debate over the escalation of online education. Bradshaw pointed out that internet courses are not a substitute for MBAs – indeed I would not exchange my MBA for an online version in a hurry. Online courses provide a business qualification; and are excellent opportunities for professional development when cost, career trajectory, location and personal lives would prevent someone from upping sticks and relocating to another city for a year or two. Regardless of these benefits, I remain sceptical of their ability to provide the networking and team experiences that are central to my MBA at LBS/Columbia.
Having read Bradshaw’s article, I recognise globalisation and technology are shaking up the traditional and accepted MBA structure – as we can see in many other aspects of our lives. Yet I remain ambivalent as to whether these changes will maintain the quality of MBAs for the next generation of students.