To that end, Olin has put more experiential learning into its MBA program, assembling teams of students to work on real challenges at for-profits, nonprofits, and startups. And the school has put far more emphasis on entrepreneurial thinking, adding more clinical professors with real-world experience in getting things done. Some students engage in consulting projects for resident entrepreneurs at T-Rex, a tech incubator in downtown St. Louis, to better understand the challenges of a startup and advise the new ventures on best-practice business strategies. Others take Olin’s Venture Consulting in Budapest elective for start-up consulting with a global flavor.
EXPECTATIONS REMAIN HIGH & ‘THE DEGREE CONTINUES TO OPEN MORE DOORS THAN NOT’
“In many ways, it’s a re-balance,” says Gupta. “If whatever you do can be done by a 25-year-old or a computer, you are setting yourself up to be obsolete. You have to change the game. That is what we are teaching our MBAs today. We have to give MBAs an entrepreneurial mindset, not just a set of tools.”
While he estimates the penetration of MBAs in white collar professional work to be less than 5%, it is more on the order of 25%+ among senior leadership. “We are building future leaders,” he says. “We are not building managers. In law, there is no expectation that every JD will become a partner of a top law firm and in accounting there is no expectation that every CPA will become a partner at a big accounting firm. But the MBA is different. None of us would admit we are working to put more MBAs into just the professional class. Instead, the expectation for an MBA is senior leadership, and the degree continues to open more doors than not. And MBAs tend to hire more MBAS because they value the training and the experience.”
As Gupta prepares to leave the deanship over the next five months, he worries, too, that schools are putting too much emphasis on GMAT scores and GPAs–largely because of rankings that include those metrics in their methodologies. “There is a race to higher GMATS and GPAs and it is now having a significant impact. It’s not that schools are rejecting applicants with lower scores. It’s that the high averages are discouraging students from applying. I worry that we are making ourselves unapproachable. The walls are getting taller and taller. I don’t find it a productive race because business leaders are not defined by their GMATs and GPAs.”