By Professor Guy Ford, Director of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program.
There comes a point in many professional’s careers where a certain threshold has been reached and further career progression becomes difficult. It is at this point that people often start to contemplate whether or not a MBA is for them.
Generally the most common motivation for undertaking an MBA is career enhancement. We interview candidates who have typically become subject matter experts in their field and who are accomplished at what they do, but they desire to contribute more widely to the organisation – they want to lead teams, be involved in strategy formulation, put together robust business cases, build organisational capability and penetrate new markets to name a few. They feel that an MBA will help to build the knowledge and skills to be able to rise further through the organisation.
Another group of candidates are looking at an MBA as a vehicle for career change. They typically have an undergraduate degree in the sciences, social sciences, humanities or engineering, and would like to change their career path, discover more opportunities and potentially increase their salary.
Some candidates have built their own small businesses and feel they need a broader set of skills to be able to scale these businesses. Some are looking to build global capability. They have become tied down working ‘in the business’, rather than ‘on the business’. They are looking for fresh ideas and insights from other successful entrepreneurs. For this group, an MBA provides an opportunity to meet and work with a diverse cohort of people with a wide range of skills and experiences.
Develop leadership and influencing skills
Graduates of MBA programs tend to have developed sound business knowledge, but many programs fail to seriously address the development of the personal and interpersonal skills needed to effectively manage, lead and influence people. Our MBA program addresses these substantial gaps by placing an emphasis on skills development through our innovate, team-based, coaching-intensive program. We aim to build the personal resilience of our candidates so they can confront any difficult situation that may arise in their personal or professional lives.
Multiple diverse perspectives
Our program restricts each intake to 48 so we can select a cohort of students with highly diverse skills and talents. This is important as students learn to deal with real world problems containing considerable ambiguity. Diversity allows students to see problems from multiple perspectives, make sense of complex situations faster and see patterns emerge. We interview all potential candidates to ensure they have the mindset and capability to thrive in a world of endless change.
Experiential learning to find creative solutions to difficult problems
Building on the benefits of the student’s multiple diverse perspectives, our classes have been reconfigured to take the focus away from instruction in favour of facilitation. We want our students to interact and learn from each other, and our program creates a safe learning environment in which to test new ideas and try new things. Our students feel they are engaged in their learning because they are learning by doing.