Georgetown’s Plan To Stay Relevant In A Flooded Market

McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University: Washington D.C., Architect: Goody Clancy

What are you hearing from employers now in terms of what they’re looking for in the MBA graduate?

A lot of it is what you would expect: technology focus. So literally this fall we launched six new electives in the full-time MBA on AI and machine learning, Python and R data management, and SQL, data visualization, and Tableau for product management product marketing positions. There has been a growing need for it. Like I said, almost 18% to 20% of our students are now going into technology. But even in financial services, it’s all technology: fintech and blockchain. In fact, we also added a new elective on finTech and blockchain.

So it’s really a lot of responding to very direct and obvious market demands. I think the bigger challenge is going to be, what should our education look like five years down the road? If robots are really taking over some jobs, if there is some routinized workflow that humans are going to be doing less and less, what is the impact on management? What is the impact on our education?

And so we’ve started some discussions mostly with our senior alumni who are in positions of power in their company where they are making some of these decisions about their workflows. So learning from them, and asking, how are you thinking about this? And then, what can we do to help you get a more talented pipeline of talent down the road?

It’s still a bit of an open space. But I think we have some ideas and it’s going to be a lot about learning from our alumni partners.

Do you all gather the most market information from your alumni contacts or are you also learning from recruiters coming to campus and are there any differences between groups? 

Alumni and recruiters both, yeah. There’s a fair amount of overlap between the two. A lot of times it’s our alumni who are leading the charge on the recruiting side. But yeah, it’s both. We’ve been working with some of our alumni who are senior leaders at banks from their venture funds, from their incubators, from their initial technology, AI, just to have a dialogue. I think that’s the basic thing we’ve got to start, and slowly, we’ll keep learning.

We’ve been hitting around this question, but are there any other things that you all at Georgetown McDonough are thinking about or have planned coming in the MBA space for the next few years?

Yeah, so I mentioned the curricular changes we are making. We are also planning a new certificate on data analytics. One of the things that I’m exploring actively is to see if there is any STEM certification possibilities, especially for our international students. What I’ve learned is that STEM certification is a state-by-state issue. It’s not a federal issue, so we’ve got to figure out with the D.C. government how that works. We haven’t quite figured out the process and the bureaucracy that is involved there. But I’m looking at that.

Other than that, it’s really looking at the level of the school, looking at the portfolio of products really carefully. What would be the next programs we should launch? So one program that at the school level we are thinking of launching is the Master in Management, which would be a one-year master’s program for recent graduates of an undergraduate non-business degree. So people who have zero to one year experience, and they will get a business degree but they have to be from liberal arts or engineering or some other background outside of business.

On the MBA side, it’s really about continuing to strengthen our curriculum. That’s sort of the primary focus, with a focus on D.C. but also a lot more collaboration with organizations to create experiential learning opportunities. And some of that could be curricula, some of that could be co-curricula. So we are working with one of the financial institutions to create a new case competition, for example. We are also looking at more experiential learning opportunities with bigger corporations.

And finally, I think on the career side, it’s really strengthening our relationships with all of our recruiters and having constant conversations with them around the impact of technology on their talent pool and skill set so that we can respond to that in a timely manner.

Any final thoughts?

No, not really. I think it’s a time in business education where the next five years are going to be pretty significant because many schools are creating these specialized master’s programs and online programs. And that’s going to sort of permanently change the landscape of business education in the U.S. for sure. How that impacts the rest of the world, we’ll see.

But I think that’s the world we are living in, and it might actually make it more global in this education because people can be anywhere in the world, literally, and be doing our education. So, yeah, exciting times. And we have a dean, thankfully, who is a specialist in innovation. That’s what he did for several years before he became the dean, so we believe that we have the right person in the job at the right time to lead us through these times that are significantly changing the landscape.

It does feel like every other week we’re getting an email from a school saying they launched some new specialized master’s or launched some new online program, and yeah, it feels like schools are just kind of throwing punches at one another trying to compete and stay relevant.

Yeah, and that’s where we have to be. We have to stay smart because if we do these things that build on our strength, then it is more likely to be sustainable. Otherwise, we are just shifting competition from one product to the other. That’s not going to serve anybody well. My best example is this Master of Arts in International Business and Diplomacy. That’s a unique program that very few schools can offer that we have local strength that we can capitalize on.


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