Every business school lauds “technology.” It is the differentiator, the means to stay ahead. Case studies are devoted to how it helps companies reach more consumers, boost productivity, and enhance communication. At the same time, technology is viewed as a culture setter, one that alters corporate structures and partner relationships in its wake.
Just one question: How exactly do you leverage technology to maximize its potential?
Finding the answer is the cornerstone of the Scheller MBA. In fact, the program’s curriculum is designed to train students on how technology impacts every corner of industry and company operations. That’s one reason you’ll find concentrations and immersive tracks like Technology Commercialization, Managing Innovation & Technology, and Innovating for Sustainability being offered. Despite the quant calculus in the program, Scheller is hardly a finishing school for engineers and computer scientists.
“You don’t have to have a technology background to be successful at Georgia Tech, says SaVona Smith, a first-year MBA and a former regional sales manager who is transitioning into brand management. “They teach you all you need to know!”
Alas, technology is the soul of the larger Georgia Institute of Technology, a top-flight research institution that features one of the world’s best engineering programs. That creates opportunities for MBA students to partner with students from various schools. This is exemplified by TI:GER, where MBAs partner with graduate students in the sciences, law, and engineering to commercialize Ph.D. research breakthroughs.
In fact, Scheller MBAs are surrounded by innovation and technology. The business school is literally encircled by the Tech Square district, 1.4 million square feet of space that’s home to 100 startups and 50 accelerators and incubators – not to mention research facilities and offices for Fortune 500 darlings like AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot. Of course, learning how to network with and bring value to these organizations takes practice. Thankfully, Scheller boasts one of the world’s top career services centers – and faculties – according to surveys conducted by The Economist.
“We feel it is Scheller College’s time to shine,” says Katie Lloyd, executive director of MBA admissions, in an interview with P&Q. “We’re well-positioned to be the MBA program for the 21st century, from practical application, to our position at the intersection of business and technology and emphasis on business analytics. MBA programs worldwide are trying to move this direction, but we’re already there.”
IE Business School is proud to flout the rules. They were founded by entrepreneurs, so what would you expect? This brashness – which stems from an openness to new ideas and an obsession with delivering an education that truly matters – has produced a culture and curriculum far different from the mainstream.
IE was among the first schools to integrate the humanities into their classroom teaching. The school was also among the first to recognize the intrinsic value of experiential learning. Blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit and steeped in technological know-how, IE is a champion of diversity, not just in terms of nationality but background, temperament, and philosophy. One example of the school’s rebel spirit? The program opens with two entrepreneurship courses! Oh, and it also boasts an intensive “fitness” regimen, replete with coaching and programming geared towards personal and career development.
Intriguing, no doubt. That isn’t enough to make IE an MBA program to watch. This year, the designation stems from two developments. First, the program is investing heavily in itself. For one, IE is pouring €50 million over the next five years into enhancing technological immersion, with a special emphasis on AI, blockchain, and fintech. What’s more, the school is on a building spree, with its Campus IE expected to double its current Madrid space by 2020.
That’s the good news. In IE’s case, 2018 could also be described as taxing at best and scandalous at worst. The reason? The school was removed from the Financial Times’ 2018 full-time MBA ranking. Just one ranking, you say. Maybe, but a year earlier, IE ranked 8th in the world on the FT list, higher than such programs as Chicago Booth, Northwestern Kellogg, and MIT Sloan. In fact, IE became the first Top 10 program ever booted from the FT ranking.
What happened? While fraud was initially suggested, the reason turned out to be garden variety mismanagement. Simply put: The team responsible for updating alumni data and managing the flow of survey responses failed on both counts. Considering that survey data accounts for a 59% weight for FT school rankings, the mistake was catastrophic.
“In this case, the quality of the data we received was not good enough,” wrote an IE spokesperson in response to a P&Q inquiry. “We received surveys completed by people who were not who we thought they were. We alerted IE to this issue and we have asked them to urgently tighten their data collection procedures so that they can be included in future rankings.”
Although the school initially downplayed the errors, the bad publicity resulted in heads rolling. Most likely, the school leadership realized that alumni pride translated to big contributions – and rankings act as the equivalent to a homecoming victory in the MBA world. A week after the news broke, the school responded forcefully, firing two staffers and demanding the resignation of a third. The soul-searching also resulted in tightening data management processes – with anything rankings-related now funneled through the dean himself.
An embarrassment? No doubt, but there is a precedent. In 2016, NYU Stern dropped nine spots to 20th in the U.S. News ranking after failing to submit a key piece of data. Sure enough, the school rebounded the next year and all was forgotten (though not necessarily forgiven). A momentary blip or a harbinger of things to come? You can bet prospective applicants will be watching how this plays out as intently as administrators in the coming month.