Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business couldn’t be in a better position. The preeminent business school brand in the nation’s capital puts it in an enviable position to be a major beneficiary of Amazon’s forthcoming move into the Washington metro market.
Prashant Malaviya, senior associate dean of MBA programs at McDonough, envisions a partnership that could lead to numerous experiential projects for its MBAs with the tech giant, guest lectures by Amazon executives, team teaching assignments between Georgetown faculty and Amazon managers, and new courses in product management and data analytics to make the school’s graduates even more enticing to the company whose second headquarters will be located in Crystal City, Va., just across the Potomac, less than five miles from the university’s campus. Amazon expects to employ 25,000 people in that location over the next decade.
In a one-on-one interview with Poets&Quants Founder and Editor-in-Chief John A. Byrne, Malaviya explores these new possibilities but also focuses on what already makes the McDonough School’s MBA experience unique, from its location in D.C., a city consumed by public policy debates and politics, to its Jesuit roots. The school boasts an intimate full-time MBA program, with an annual intake of roughly 270 students, and exceptional early-career outcomes. Some 93.8% of last year’s graduating class of MBAs had jobs within three months of graduation, putting McDonough firmly in the top ten of MBA placement in the U.S. In fact, Bloomberg Businessweek’s most recent survey of corporate recruiters found the school’s graduates the best-trained MBAs in the world (see Corporate Recruiters Rate The Brand Value Of Specific Business Schools).
Malaviya, a professor of marketing, knows the school well. He has spent the past 11 years at McDonough, joining the school in 2008 from INSEAD in France where he had taught marketing for nine years. Prior to INSEAD, he held an appointment at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and visiting professorships at the Wharton School, ALBA Graduate Business School in Athens, Greece, and at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he earned his Ph.D. Before diving in the academic world, Malaviyaworked in India as an engineer at Tata Motors and as a marketing analyst at Nestlé.
An edited transcript of his fireside chat with Byrne follows while the video of the conversation is above.
John A. Byrne: So, Prashant, tell me what makes the McDonough MBA experience unique, different, and unusual?
Prashant Malaviya: Really, for us, Georgetown is a place that provides a unique education that educates the whole person. What that means to us is making sure not only do people learn knowledge, learn skills, but also are able to develop a mindset that helps them do the right things in the world. The reason we believe we are able to deliver on that is threefold. One is our presence in D.C., that allows access to the kinds of non-business perspectives that allows the mind to grow. The second is the presence of world-renowned colleges within Georgetown, like the School of Foreign Studies, like the School of Public Policy, The Law School, and again, cross-fertilization. Interaction with students and faculty from those colleges creates for a richer perspective for the students.
Finally, I think what for me has been the biggest revelation in my many years at Georgetown is, our Jesuit heritage brings with it the ability to make people become more reflective and more self-aware as individuals. I feel, and we believe, that prepares people really well for the future of business, particularly for the millennials.
Byrne: That’s for sure. And being so close to the big and important issues in society which command attention in a city that has a profound impact on public policy makes a difference. How does that come into play?
Malaviya: We try to do that both in formal and informal ways. Informally, you can take classes on these topics. The speakers who come to campus will force you to think about these different perspectives. But we also have a formal certificate, called Non-Market Strategies, which is all about the intersection of business with policy and regulation. So if you’re interested in that, and that is the mindset you want to develop, you can go through the certificate and gain that perspective in a more formal way.
Byrne: How many electives does it require?
Malaviya: It requires three electives. And it has a practicum, which is an applied course where you actually practice the skills you have learned about the intersection of business and policy in a real-world case setting.
Byrne: The other thing that Georgetown has is a required global immersion which sets it apart from most business schools which offer global immersions as an elective opportunity. Where do you bring the students and what do you do with them?
Malaviya: Every student is required to do a consulting project with a client who our professors bring in. And so it is a real business situation, a real business problem that the students work on. In a typical year, our students go to ten different countries around the world. These are spread across Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. The way these consulting projects work is that the students start off in a team working with the client manager directly. They work on the project remotely, then they visit the country and spend a week or two weeks there to get an understanding of the industry, of the context, at a more granular level on the ground. Then, they come back and complete the project after having done that research with the client. So the clients find that it’s one thing to do a project sitting somewhere and saying, ‘okay here’s our recommendation.’ without even having visited the country or the industry or the consumers. But it’s quite another for the students to go in there, immerse themselves even if it’s for a week or two weeks, that gives the richness to the project that the clients find very informative and valuable.
Byrne: I’m going to add that there are a lot of schools that do global immersions that are little more than a few company visits in a country. Doing a real project with a real client really ups the game. The other thing about Georgetown is the school’s remarkably solid placement rates: 95% within three months of graduation.
Malaviya: It’s 94%, but I’ll take 95%.
Byrne: I’m going to round up for you okay.
Malaviya: Thank you, I like that.
Byrne: You’re very strong in consulting and technology. How does that come about?
Malaviya: Historically, most people would say Georgetown is a finance school. And we still have strength in that discipline and market. In fact, in our undergraduate level program, almost 60% of our students go into finance in one way or the other. We still have a strong presence in finance at the MBA level, between 25% and 30% of our students are going there, but we have really gained in strength is consulting and technology. Three of the top five recruiters at McDonough are consulting firms.
Over the last three years, technology has grown to become close to 20% of recruiting on campus with Amazon becoming one of the five biggest recruiters. And we’ve often wondered where why particularly because it’s no secret that Georgetown doesn’t have an engineering school. So what is it that these technology firms find in a Georgetown graduate that really appeals to them? The answer I think is it is this whole person education.
What the student really builds is the skills to see around corners, the skills to collaborate with cross-functional teams, the skill to be persuasive no matter who is in the room, whether it is a programmer or an operations person. Whoever it is. I think those soft skills are really what brings the game out of our students when they go to technology firms. Now, of course, many of them have an engineering or a STEM undergraduate background and maybe even work experience. So that obviously lends credibility to what they are doing, but they now bring this additional layer, which we believe is a unique Georgetown layer, to play in these jobs.