A business degree is a big investment, one worthy of careful thought and comprehensive deliberation. To choose the right programme or university is (generally) to choose one that has been proven excellent. In the world of business schools, this comes in the form of accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – the oldest and most prestigious accreditor of business education in the world.
On August 1, 2019, UKM-Graduate School of Business (UKM-GSB) received this very badge of honour, placing it among the top five percent of business schools worldwide, which number in the thousands.
The accreditation is a recognition for institutions “that have demonstrated a focus on excellence in all areas, including teaching, research, curriculum development, and student learning,” said Stephanie M Bryant, Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation Officer of AACSB International.
UKM-GSB and its suite of postgraduate business study options are steadily rising through reputed global rankings. Interested applicants can choose from the one-year full-time MBA or the two doctoral programmes offered – Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).
With AACSB accreditation, studying these courses at UKM-GSB means receiving the two-fold benefits that come with it, according to Dean of UKM-GSB, Associate Professor Dr Puan Yatim. Firstly, students can be assured of the business school’s pursuit of excellence in research and business education. Secondly, it’s a boost to their employability as the accreditation shows UKM-GSB graduates are “being prepared at the highest level for their roles as future leaders for the global marketplace and society,” as Associate Professor Dr Puan Yatim explains.
One of the stand-out ways UKM-GSB does this is through the wide and diverse range of extracurricular activities available at its campus near the Malaysian capital and business hub of Kuala Lumpur. With the aim of ensuring each student receives a holistic education, recent UKM-GSB initiatives include leadership talks from top industry figures, community outreach projects, networking sessions with alumni, doctoral colloquium and writing workshops.
An MBA programme with a focus on experiential learning
Such learning experiences outside the classroom are not only effective in allowing students to apply the theories they learn but also in capturing the complexities of business and understanding challenges facing society.
Today’s best business schools incorporate extracurricular activities and experiential learning in their curriculum and campus life. At UKM-GSB, the traditional versions of this – where MBA students are tasked to work in a “live” business environment – are available, as are its newer versions, ie. partnerships with companies and organisations.
An example of the former category is the community outreach projects, where MBA students initiate and execute projects to help them discover, strengthen and polish their leadership, problem-solving and teamwork skills. This then culminates in a project presentation before a panel of assessors.
According to researchers, such experiential learning develops the soft skills prized by employers, such as project management and teamwork skills.
For alumni and medical doctor Dr Ebner Yoon, these extracurricular activities complemented his MBA programme, resulting in a boost to his “professional and personal development; entailing opportunities for broader exposure, organizing events and having the privilege of meeting prominent corporate individuals”.
Another alumni, Milatina Urfana, spoke about how the practical projects and extracurricular activities “empower the students to go beyond their limits”.
“The friendly and helpful staff are always ready [to provide] information and [facilitate learning]. The purpose is to help students striving not only [for] academic achievement, but also [for] personal development which will be [advantageous to] achieving career goals,” she concludes.
Getting wisdom from industry heads adds another layer of insight to UKM-GSB students’ educational journey. Previous leadership talks held here include those by CEO of Duopharma Biotech Berhad, Mr Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar, as well as Founder & Managing Director, Serba Dinamik Holdings Berhad, Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah.
Such industry links offer a “more collaborative and immersive” learning experience, according to Dan LeClair, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at AACSB International.
The Doctoral Colloquium provides research students the opportunity to present their work, and engage with their peers and faculty members for high-quality intellectual interactions and discourse in a setting that is relatively informal. Writing workshops are also open to students, academics, practitioners and the public to learn and enhance their research management and writing skills through various statistical packages and digital tools to execute their research projects efficiently. One such workshop held in March this year focused on research and data analysis (for both qualitative and quantitative approaches) as well as how to use online digital tools for strategizing on high-impact publications.
On September 17-19, the school will be hosting the inaugural International Colloquium on Research, Innovation, & Social Entrepreneurship. Themed, Charting Knowledge on the Edge of Business 4Ward, the colloquium will provide an open platform for local and international scholars to meet and share their current research, as well as to exchange ideas and information on new developments in business management.
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