Gareth Howells, Executive Director, MBA and MiF, London Business School (LBS), discusses the relevance of B-schools, the need for an entrepreneurial bent of mind and the importance of connecting with alumni, in a chat with Prachi Rege.
Q: How does the Global Business Experience (GBE) programme run by LBS benefit students?
A: Our GBE programme helps students get a global perspective on how businesses are run in other countries. As Asian countries like India and China gain momentum in the global economy, it is essential that we bring B-schoolers to these countries to provide hands-on experience. India especially is an ambitious country which has quickly adapted to change — a quality that any business manager needs to imbibe in today's fast paced economic world. Over 8 per cent of our students choose to come here for their GBE, as they are curious to witness the growth and changes in the country.
Q: How do you choose the country/city for the GBE visit?
A: This year, under the GBE programme, different groups of students have visited Istanbul, an example of a conservative market changing into a free one; Mumbai – to learn about adaptability to a changing business environment and Hong Kong – to understand the economics of the South-East Asian markets. Next year on we plan to include Lima and Peru to learn about the strategic change of how State owned businesses are conducting affairs with the rest of the world.
Q: What can B-Schools do to stay relevant in today's changing economic scenario?
A: As a result of advancements in technology and its use in academic institutions, courses and programmes offered by B-schools are available to one and all. Online learning has enabled students to pursue a degree of their choice, irrespective of their geographic location or economic condition. In order to stay relevant, B-Schools must adapt their courses according to industry needs. Inculcating a spirit of entrepreneurship should be the primary goal of a management school. It is important to understand that jobs won't last a lifetime in today's dynamic economic world. So an entrepreneurial bent of mind is the way to go.
Q: How important is it to connect with alumni?
A: It is certainly a win-win situation. We have 30,000 alumni in 130 countries, 1000 of these are in India. During our current GBE to India, students visited Dharma Life, a social business venture run by one of our alumnus, Gaurav Mehta. Alumni serve as ambassadors, their success stories facilitates word-of-mouth popularity for a B-School. Finally, staying connected with the school helps alumni to recruit students in their company, as and when required.
Q: Which are the popular courses at LBS? What are the future plans for the B-School?
A: Finance and General Management courses are the most popular courses on our campus. Since this is our 50th year, we are planning to launch a new one year management programme for professionals with work-experience. There will be renewed emphasis on research in areas like organisation behaviour, marketing and innovation. A three month exchange programme with academic institutions like Indian School of Business, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Columbia University and Wharton Business School, US among others is also in the pipeline. LBS students will qualify for this programme through essays, personal interview and good grades in their semester exams.