Georgetown’s Plan To Stay Relevant In A Flooded Market

Prashant Malaviya is the Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Georgetown McDonough photo

“I had to almost force myself to not put on a tie,” Prashant Malaviya jokes in a breakfast spot at the Ritz Carlton in the middle of San Francisco. This might be the Ritz, but it’s still San Francisco, where ties aren’t necessary and the table comes with shots of cranberry-grape kombucha: “morning happy hour,” the waiter exclaims to Malaviya, the senior associate dean of MBA programs at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Malaviya, who is also an associate professor of marketing at Georgetown McDonough, came to the school ten years ago after stints at INSEAD, the University of Illinois, and Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. As the senior associate dean of MBA programs, he spends a lot of time connecting with alums — hence his visit San Francisco. Increasingly, McDonough is placing alums on the West Coast and in tech, which is a draw for Malaviya.

Poets&Quants had a chance to sit down with Malaviya and chat about everything new at Georgetown McDonough, including how the school is staying relevant in the marketplace and to international applicants. In a wide-ranging interview, Malaviya spoke about early interest in the school’s new Flex MBA program, how McDonough plans to continue to be a place that appeals to international applicants, the school’s plan to explore more in the online and specialized master’s spaces, and how the school keeps its alums relevant to employers who are increasingly looking for technological ability alongside business know-how.

(The interview below has been edited for length and readability.)

P&Q: First, I’d like to know about any and all changes you’ve seen since coming to Georgetown McDonough in 2018.

Malaviya: Yeah, I joined Georgetown McDonough in 2008 as a professor of marketing. I think the biggest change has been that we have recognized that we need to grow the portfolio of products that we put out on the market. Looking at more executive degree programs and specialized masters programs, but doing it in a way that builds on our strengths and assets. So for example, one of the master’s programs that we launched two years ago now is a Master of Art in International Business in Diplomacy. So it’s a joint master’s program with the School of Foreign Studies. Now actually six years ago was when we launched out first online master’s program in finance.

And the other big thing that I’ve noticed is that we have really doubled down on our faculty research productivity and output. So, if you actually follow the Financial Times research rankings, I believe the most recent one we were 19th in the world which is amazing. When I joined Georgetown we were probably closer 40th or something. So it’s been a pretty steep and impressive improvement. And that has been fueled by a careful curation of Centers of Excellence. For example, six years ago we added a Center on Real Estate that has now become a huge magnet for students, executives, and faculty. In fact, real estate is now becoming the fourth largest industry for the full-time MBA.

Around the same time we started our Institute for Entrepreneurship, which has become a huge magnet for again for students, alumni, and faculty. We just opened a new space, our Georgetown Venture Lab in the WeWork facility near the White House.

So, again, really focusing on growth from the graduate side and the faculty scholarship, seems to be the main push on the strategy side. I think moving into the future what’s going to be happening is we are going to make some important moves and changes to respond to the technology. Not so much technology in education which we have to adapt to, but also the impact of technology in the workplace. If the future of work is changing then the future of business education should change in response to that.

Can you share anything specific about how Georgetown plans to move and evolve in the online space, and whether the master’s in finance will have any campus components?

It’s all online. Although not surprisingly for many online programs, there are several local students who take the program and they like to come to campus and hang around and stuff. But it’s a fully online program. But the other big change that we are making is our part-time MBA, or what we call the Evening MBA. So that’s evolving into what we have now relabeled as the Flex MBA.

The Flex MBA will officially admit the first group of students this coming fall, in August 2019. One part of that flexibility is the technology and courses will be hybrid in nature. Several of the courses and sessions will be online, but there will always be an on campus element. The feedback we got from current students, prospective students, and alumni was that the on campus element really made the program special, even though they are part-time students. It really made it a cohesive, close-knit group that not just created a network but also significantly enhanced the learning outcomes. We wanted to preserve that.

So for now the plan is to leave our core curriculum on campus and significantly change our elective component. And the way we are doing it is to basically provide several delivery formats. For example, we will have evening classes where our students come to campus during the evening. And then also adding a slew of electives that we offer over the weekend, so students don’t have to miss work. What we hear from students is that if they can take off three to five days from work and go 9 to 5 and complete a course, that is much better than having to come for a semester every week, twice a week. So we are creating more of those opportunities.

So, again, it’s really about making it flexible so students can customize courses to whatever works in their schedule. The bigger benefit of this is we hope that it will also allow them to change the duration of the degree. So right now it is three years long standing, everybody starts and ends at the same time. But now we are going to create an accordion model where you can either slow it down and take three-and-a-half or four years. Or speed it up and take two-and-a-half years.

Eventually I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these innovations will bleed into the full-time program. I can see electives being offered in the hybrid format where full-time students go to class but they also have the material online.

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