Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Oil & Gas Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 6.85/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
GMAT 760, GPA 3
Wharton | Mr. Real Estate Investor
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. New England Hopeful
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65
Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Harvard | Mr. Military Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Columbia | Mr. BB Trading M/O To Hedge Fund
GMAT 710, GPA 3.23
Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Trucking
GMAT 640, GPA 3.82
Ross | Mr. Low GRE Not-For-Profit
GRE 316, GPA 74.04% First Division (No GPA)
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98
Harvard | Mr. Army Intelligence Officer
GRE 334, GPA 3.97
Harvard | Ms. Data Analyst In Logistics
GRE 325, GPA 4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Comeback Story
GRE 313, GPA 2.9

Crowdsourcing An MBA Revamp

Ken White. Courtesy photo

Ken White, associate dean of MBA and Executive Programs at the Mason School. Courtesy photo

The ideas must fit into six broad categories. The jury will decide a first, second and third place idea for each category.Winners will be invited to participate in a podcast, placed on the school’s website and announced in a release from the school. The jury consists of seven members including the Larry Pulley, the Mason School’s dean, Torae Artis, a senior manager at Deloitte, and Ed Coleman, the former CEO of Gateway and Unisys, among others.

White explains the reason for a competitive aspect and jury is to “determine which ideas should be considered most as we update and upgrade and redesign the curriculum.”

FOSTERING A “COCKTAIL PARTY” CONVERSATION

Of course something like this wouldn’t even be a possibility without some faculty buy-in. According to White, there was no need to convince the majority of the Mason School faculty—they were in from the beginning.

“Step one, you better have faculty who are willing to embrace the idea,” White says of the idea to crowdsource curriculum changes. “Our faculty realize there are a lot of smart people out there who have MBAs, so why not interact with them? And the faculty quickly embraced the idea.”

A team of faculty members who have been charged with monitoring and guiding discussion on the platform have already had an initial meeting to discussion generated ideas. So far, White says the ideas and have aligned with what they expected. “But let’s take their comment and try to build upon it,” he says of how the faculty members have approached the ideas. “And at this stage, much of it is telling us we’re on the right track. But I think we are days away from getting to the point where we’re getting some really meaty discussions and some very interesting input that’s going to make us push ourselves and really think.”

White likens the discussion to a “cocktail party” conversation. “The conversation is very slow moving at first and then you start getting into valuable ideas and specifics,” he explains. “And we’re about halfway through that right now.”

COMING SOON TO A B-SCHOOL NEAR YOU?

The decision to crowdsource an MBA curriculum is just as much a product of the Mason School’s open environment as it is a strategy to stay relevant in a crowded MBA market, White believes.

“As a profession, we absolutely must know what our customers, employers, and what our alumni think and need if we are going to remain relevant moving forward,” White insists. “And this is a great way to do it.”

But, White says, it’s also a Mason-specific approach.

“One of the phrases you hear often at Mason is bring business to the business school,” White shares. “And that’s very important to us—to make sure we are partnering with businesses and organizations to make sure we are doing the right things.”

‘THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN ORDER TO BE RELEVANT’

But this concept is certainly not Mason-exclusive and White says he’s already had other schools reach out to him with questions about the pioneering approach. “I don’t think this is cost prohibitive for most schools,” White believes. “You can use a vendor if you like or use your own personnel and resources internally.”

The Mason School chose the former and are partnering with Munich-based open innovation firm, HYVE. Think of a top global consumer products brand and HYVE has probably worked with them. Their client list runs deep and is filled with brands such as Adidas, BMW, Intel, Mastercard, P&G and many others.

And according to White, the crowdsourced MBA is a logical and intelligent shift that probably should and will be adopted by other higher education institutions as they compete for consumers.

“One of the things I’m most proud of as a profession is how it listens to other people,” White says. “In the old days, it was, ‘we’re going to tell you what we think should happen and you can take it or leave it.’ And we don’t do that anymore.”

“Fortunately, we talk to our employers,” White adds. “We talk to students and prospective students, and faculty, and alumni to find out, what’s the best product we can deliver? How can we deliver an outstanding experience to our students? We do that at William and Mary, but I think other schools are doing it as well and that leads right to open innovation. This is what we need to do in order to be relevant.”

DON’T MISS: AN ONLINE MBA FOR THE RENAISSANCE MANAGER; THE MBA BEHIND THAT TEENI WEENI SI BIKINI

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