Why get an MBA?
The Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2018 survey, based on over 1,000 employers worldwide who hire MBA students, asked what skills are difficult to find in business school hires. In the Top 10 responses of missing skills were things like leadership, strategic planning, global mindset, and data analysis. No list said anything about accounting, marketing, or other traditional MBA classes. Why is that? You could surmise that business educators are doing a good job in those categories, so there’s no gap. That’s probably true. Another possible explanation, however, is that we, educators, are no longer scratching the itch that today’s companies—or the world—are needing. The business model has changed. What if we could begin again?
That is essentially the opportunity I was presented with when I was offered the position of Director of the MBA program at Bakke Graduate University, a faith-based graduate school that focuses on being practioners of excellent research and theory. Based on the experience of Dennis Bakke, one of the namesakes of the university, BGU first modeled our business program on his book Joy at Work.
Dennis, co-founder of a 32,000 employee, Fortune 500 energy company known as AES, believed that every human is created in God’s image and should be treated as such. He often used the basketball analogy of “taking the shot” to describe what fun in the workplace should look like.
His values-based leadership focused on the development of every employee to fully participate in the running of the company. If you didn’t know how to do something already, then you would learn. Many had never experienced being given the ball and making decisions that count.
It was truly life-changing. Dennis called this methodology the greatest leadership development program in the world. Many researchers and books have lauded both his business expertise and his perspective on human potential. This thinking undergirds every class.
Without the trappings of typical high-priced business programs, we began to ask questions like: What is it we are trying to accomplish? What are the demands on business leaders today? What is the best thinking on leadership and organizational development? How has the world’s view of wealth and profit changed? How does our faith play into these issues? And finally, knowing that change is needed, and that researchers like Gallup say that 70% of change initiatives fail, what are best practices on successful change management?
Answering these tough questions will require ongoing collaborative thinking, global voices, and partnerships between academic researchers and programs, and between academics and business leaders. We believe we’re off to an exciting start!
If you are in business and were asked to design a new MBA, what do you think should be included and why?
Why some BGU students chose an MBA?
“BGU was offering what no one else was. I wanted a business degree from a theological position.” (VP, Development, global non-profit, U.S.)
“I believe a business degree will better prepare me for opportunities in the future and an MBA is recognized worldwide.” (District Superintendent, Christian Denomination, Guyana)
“I wanted to change the lives of those who work for our family-owned business as well as prepare our company for expansion. I also want to think outside my own cultural box.” (Co-owner retail business, Guyana)
“I’m early into my career and I want to learn how to be good at what I do, preparing me for my future, and understanding how to make a difference.” (Customer Solutions Representative, Insurance Company, U.S.)
“I have worked across the globe in all kinds of environments but felt it was time to expand my experience with formal training. I believe this program will stretch me in whole new ways.” (VP, HR, non-profit, U.S.)