People matter in business. Michael Bloomberg – the eighth richest person in the world – believes the art of dealing with people is the most important part of education.
In a survey of 10,000 recruiters, 3,000 business school students (both MBAs and undergraduates), and 500 business school career centre, employers named professionalism as one of the three most important skills, the other two being critical thinking and a strong work ethic. They also placed great emphasis on skills like teamwork and collaboration, as well as oral and written communication.
But from the way modern business is conducted, it can sometimes seem as if only profit matters. There’s palpable disdain over how the corporate world is run, with a seemingly sole focus on maximising shareholder value instead of producing goods and services for the benefit of society.
Universities are blamed for forgetting the true purpose of the business school, ie. advancing the theory and practice of collective — not individual — wealth creation.
It’s a shame, as students aren’t taught to build businesses that put people – be it employees or consumers – first, despite many examples showing its benefits. For example, Patagonia’s family-friendly benefits, including on-site childcare centre and flexible work arrangements, has resulted in its 100 percent retention of mums (the US average is 79 percent).
Social values aside, the company benefits too. Virgin CEO Richard Branson famously endorses companies that keep employees happy, saying: “Effectively, in the end shareholders do well, the customers do better, and your staff remains happy.”
Allan Leighton, Chairman of the Co-Operative Group and the man credited for turning the failing ASDA organisation into a £6.7 billion company, said: “The Mars brothers said to me, ‘fifty percent of the brains in the world are female, and brains have no colour.’ So what is the lesson in that? Business is all about people. Businesses don’t grow, people grow them.”
The upside is that some business schools are starting to take notice. Amid a global community growing more aware of racial, gender and class inequality, more and more colleges and universities are revamping their curriculum to challenge current business methods and return to the true functional aspects of business.
Faculties are going back to the board to put more focus on managerial skills, ensuring a balance of qualitative modules alongside number-based elements.
These are the five schools teaching the social and professional values employers need in 2018:
Located in the historic city of York, York Business School offers a contemporary suite of courses with a focus on industry-experience and graduate employability.
On top of offering exciting undergraduate opportunities, York Business School has a number of Postgraduate degree courses for you to study, allowing you to specialise, pursue academic interests and stand out to employers. The Leadership & Management MSc, for example, will develop you as a potential manager and as a creative, innovative business leader.
Going to grad school here means receiving a critically-aware, holistic understanding of business management. Alongside a diverse student body, the MBA curriculum is one that not only develops leadership skills for both a local and international context, but also reflects aspirations in the development of responsible, ethical managers.
“Attending York St John was the best decision I ever made. I was able to push myself and constantly go out of my comfort zone to help ignite my creative flair, enabling me to achieve a first-class degree” Caroline Cuthbertson, Marketing Management Graduate.
The majority of business schools teach students how to turn twenty-first century problems into business opportunities. Stern does the same but with a notable addition; teaching students to create opportunities that benefit both shareholders and society at large.
At both the MBA and undergraduate level, faculty instil in students the ability to innovate, creating economic value and business solutions that improve society.
For example, faculty and staff at its Business and Society Program – an interdisciplinary endeavour that draws on the best scholarship and research in law, economics, psychology, and philosophy – dedicate themselves to pushing intellectual thought in fields beyond the usual accounting and finance modules.
It’s a program aimed at pushing intellectual thought in fields such as professional responsibility, human rights, law and business, social entrepreneurship and the design of ethically-effective organisations.
It appears to be a formula that works, since 98 percent of NYU Stern MBA graduates have a job within six months of graduation.
Carey’s website homepage says it all: “Teaching business with humanity in mind”. Next to this clarion call, the school lists its impressive rate of female enrolment – nearly 50 percent of students enrolled at Carey are women.
It was this that drove Shelby Schemerhorn, GMBA 2018, to apply to Carey.
“I wanted to go to a business school that was similar to how I started my career and where I could find the purpose that would motivate me and would give me the hard skills training that I needed to go into management,” she says.
“For me, Carey was the best blend of all the business acumen that I needed for that next step in my career. I’ve always been very social-impact focused so it was the perfect blend of both those things.”
In its Global MBA curriculum, core studies are balanced with theory, ethics, and entrepreneurship. In their second semester, students go on a three-week, in-country residency to consult with business and community leaders both in the US and developing countries.
In each country, students collaborate with local entrepreneurs on pressing business challenges, from infrastructure to public health and other areas of critical need.
One of the UK’s leading business schools, there’s no shortage of brilliant faculty here, dedicated to using business for the benefit of the world. Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, Dean of Bath’s School of Management, sums the school’s philosophy as such:
“The role of research is very often to hold up a mirror to business and ask businesses, public sector organisations and NGOs to look at what they’re doing. To (not only) hold themselves up to scrutiny in order to both learn how to improve practice, learn how to engage with their customers or their workforces better, but also how to hold themselves up to the scrutiny of governments and society at large.”
It’s a theme that can be seen across the range of business degree courses offered, from undergraduate to postgraduate and post-experience level.
Here, student-faculty partnership pays off; Bath holds high rankings for both student satisfaction and graduate employability.
Since introducing a one-year full-time MBA to the UK in 1966, the Strathclyde Business School (SBS) has become an established institution, pioneering developments across its undergraduate and postgraduate portfolios.
Part of that includes taking experienced executives from a variety of backgrounds and placing them in an MBA that promotes corporate social responsibility. The first module in the course, centred around four modules and the MBA project, is titled The Reflective Practitioner. Here, students are pushed to respond to the business world’s increasing emphasis on CSR. This is supplemented by classes developing managerial self-awareness and interaction, promoting strong corporate governance.
Ziad Khdair, an MBA 2010 student at Strathclyde now working at Pfizer Inc, said: “Obtaining my MBA degree at Abu Dhabi branch – UAE not only has it been helping me shape my professional career, but also showing me many ways I can contribute to the society I live in.”
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International