perjantai 2. toukokuuta 2014

Management Education Ideas from Paris

This blog post was written mainly on a Finnair flight AY 872 from Paris to Helsinki on the last day of April 2014. I was returning home from Association of MBAs annual International  Conference for Deans and Directors. My mind was working on the ideas and experiences from the event anyway, so I desided to crystallize some of them in form of a blog post.

Just a brief background about the conference to get us started. Association of MBAs (AMBA) is a global impartial authority on postgraduate business education. For a University the most obvious source of value of AMBA is the accreditation and brand recognition. The accreditation process itself provides value for the business school in many practical ways (my other post on this topic). Not to mention that it is always a learning experience also for the ones doing the assessment (I'm very happy to be a member of the faculty of the assessors). AMBA also organizes a series of professional events for business schools staff, of which the conference for deans and directors is the annual main event.

Alright, so here are some of my main takeaways from the conference. They are titled in a form of quotes and phrases based on the presentations and discussions with various people during the event. (Note to reader: Nevertheless the sources are linked and some people that inspired these thoughts in me are mentioned, everything is based only on my personal notes and interpretations)

1. "Define your personal next level"
Learning and competence building should be a strategic act with explicit goals. Define how you are going to update your own thinking and developing your organisation. This point was emphasized in the conference by many speakers, e.g. Yvonne Buysman (Director B2B at Apple) and it fits very well on my thinking about true management learning. Management education is an investment that needs to be planned. During an Executive MBA program, you will and you should raise expectations towards yourself.

2. "10x, not 10%"
Managing director of Google France Nick Leeder stated that we are entering into a world with higher level of ambition. In addition of incremental development (doing 10 % better) organisations should challenge themselves to more radical improvement. Innovation in general was one of the cross-cutting themes of the conference approached by various speakers.

3. "Confidence is something you can't buy"
This sharp statement came from the mouth of the MBA student of the year award winner, Mr Olebogeng Glad Dibetso (Managing Director of Dimension Data West Africa). True learning comes from stepping out of your comfort zone. It is about personal transformation and building your professional identity. Goal of an effective executive MBA program is to increase your self awareness. Well said.

4. "Learn business where business is being done"
Paris attendees by country
Rise of Asia was very apparent at the conference both as an economical area and a rising focus area for management education. For instance the amount of Chinese delegates attending the event was impressive. I congratulated myself for taking my Chinese business cards with me to Paris and started feeling even more excited about my trip to China next week.

5. "Computers are not technology"
This phrase is picked up from a research on "millennials" by Northern Illinois University presented by Alex Chisholm (GMAC Director of Statistical Analysis for Research and Development). It means technology being more and more embedded into our life and digital technologies becoming a natural part of our daily activities instead of being a separate "tool". We have been integrating an approach like this into the curriculum rather passionately, especially emphasizing the importance and value of digital tools for every manager personally. I was delighted to notice that the MBA innovation award 2013 went to Athens University, based of their e-business focus on MBA program. This whole theme of digital transformation naturally poses both challenges and opportunities for a business school. Is lifelong learning transforming into lifestyle learning, personalized and flexibly embedded into whatever you do?

All in all, ICDD 2014 was an inspiring and insightful event once again. And once again I concluded that the biggest value comes through the networking during the event. 250 colleagues around the world getting together and exchanging ideas. Now that´s really something! 

It really is like the old folks say in Finland: "You always learn when you are away from home"...

Au revoir,
Pasi Aaltola

Director of MBA Education
University of Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics
Avance Executive Education

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