Latin American business schools get no respect — in the rankings, that is. In the latest Financial Times Global MBA list, only one school from Central or South America — Incae Business School, with campuses in Costa Rica and Nicaragua — has a spot in the top 100, coming in at 96th place. The number of Latin American schools that were ranked the previous year: zero.
Talk to the deans from any of the leading Latin American B-schools and they will tell you that their school is on track to be the one to change this — to lead a renaissance in Central and South American graduate business education by offering the first MBA in that part of the world to draw significant talent from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Many have tried, and will continue to try. None has been the one — yet.
As the MBA undergoes a season of disruption — a constant gradual but comprehensive transformation reflecting the importance schools place on diversity, sustainability, innovation, and entrepreneurship — the ground is fertile for programs that embrace “business as a force for good” and that attract applicants with very different ideas of what an MBA means. Can a Latin American B-school become the agent of change that capitalizes on this shift in the zeitgeist? Will this long-ignored part of the world finally become a graduate management education hotspot? And which school will lead the charge?
Ignacio de la Vega would like a word.
‘GLOBAL COLLABORATION — GLOBALIZATION — IS WHAT WE DO’
“2020, no doubt, will be a year of purpose,” says de la Vega, dean of EGADE Business School, the postgraduate business school of Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey. The school was founded in 1995, born from a vision “to develop leaders capable of anticipating change and being at the forefront of trends in business,” the dean says. Pursuant to that mission EGADE was reorganized and rebranded in 2010, and has been accumulating partners and raising its profile for the last decade. It now has campuses in Monterrey, Mexico City, and Guadalajara.
De la Vega became EGADE’s dean in 2017. A teacher for more than three decades in more than 35 geographies across the globe, de la Vega has served as CEO of Global Babson, an organization that integrates the Global Centers of Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College, where he developed innovative programs and collaborative research initiatives with a focus on entrepreneurship; and as chief learning officer of global financial giant BBVA. In 12 years at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, de la Vega was a professor, researcher, and director of the International Center for Entrepreneurship and the Development of Business Initiatives, as well as chair of the GEM Project, at the time the largest entrepreneurship research project in the world.
De la Vega has made a huge impact in a short time at EGADE. In 2017, the year he became dean, the school introduced a one-year MBA in Innovation & Entrepreneurship program that will grow its enrollment by a third this fall; last year EGADE launched an online MBA that also is growing. But it is in its partnerships where EGADE has made perhaps the biggest footprint so far. The school’s biggest program, its part-time MBA, boasts dual-degree agreements with 11 institutions, including Yale School of Management, the University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business, HEC Paris, and ESSEC. EGADE’s OneMBA executive degree — offered through a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Rotterdam School of Management of the Netherlands, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Getulio Vargas Foundation of Brazil — ranked 51st worldwide by The Financial Times in 2020; no Latin American program ranked higher. A second executive-degree partnership, the EGADE-W.P. Carey Executive MBA, is slated to launch in the fall. EGADE also offers an MBA with a concentration in Global Business and Strategy (MBA-GBS), a double-degree program run jointly with the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a joint MBA with CENTRUM PUCP Business School in Lima, Peru. And to top it all off EGADE is a member of Yale SOM’s Global Network for Advanced Management, or GNAM, a 30-school consortium that tackles issues of global interest through new initiatives.
That’s just academic partnerships. Among the corporations and organizations that support the EGADE MBA program are Coca-Cola, IBM, Google, LinkedIn, Dell, Deloitte, KPMG, Nestlé, P&G, FedEx, DHL, Unilever, Toyota, Honda, and 3M; in all more than 150 corporations have agreements with EGADE for talent development in their MBA programs. With experienced and driven leadership and so many partnerships worldwide, it’s no wonder EGADE has such a large and growing student population — altogether the school has 1,370 students across its MBA programs, and nearly 2,000 overall.
Even as the world contracts while searching for a way to stay connected, EGADE — through its growing online presence and strong portfolio of partnerships — is poised to become Latin America’s premier provider of graduate business education.
“We belong to some of the most relevant networks of business schools,” de la Vega says. “GNAM is definitely one of the highlights of what we do. GNAM is a consortium of 30 top business schools in the world, and through it we attract our value faculty, exchange students. We develop global weeks. We do research. We are working now on bringing this into our Ph.D. programs. Globalization is integral, it’s a critical part of what we do. And we will keep investing heavily into this.
“Business transformation is inexorable and requires a transformation of the leaders themselves. It is precisely the innovative and disruptive talent that is redefining the business direction of Mexico, Latin America, and the world. Global collaboration — globalization — is what we do. It’s a key driver of Tecnologico de Monterrey Business School, and definitely of EGADE Business School.”
‘HOW DO WE KEEP GROWING AS A SCHOOL? IT’S SOMETHING WE TAKE VERY SERIOUSLY’
The Escuela de Graduados en Administración y Dirección de Empresas has a thriving part-time/evening MBA program with a student population of 1,200. It takes between 18 months and two years to complete. In the 21-month Global OneMBA, EGADE boasts another 33 students; the incoming 2020 cohort for the 15-month part-time dual degree with W.P. Carey Business School of Arizona State University, also an executive program, is expected to be around 20 students. The collaborative program with CENTRUM in Peru has 85, and the new full-time MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship has 20 students, with an expected increase to 30 this fall. The EGADE OnlineMBA, which takes 15-24 months to complete, currently has 32 students. Altogether, the total student population at EGADE is about 1,850 students, including MBA and master’s programs in finance, business management, and energy, as well as Ph.D. programs. The student body is split evenly between Mexico City and Monterrey campuses, with another 150 or so students at the school’s tech hub in Guadalajara.
EGADE describes its admissions process as “holistic,” as it evaluates all MBA candidates taking into account a multitude of factors such as professional experience, academic performance (GPA plus GMAT/GRE/EA or equivalent plus TOEFL or equivalent), career goals and leadership potential/statement of purpose, an interview, and professional recommendations. But just to give you an idea, the median GMAT score for students in the part-time MBA is 550; the average GMAT for those in the full-time is 609. The total population of women is just 31% across all MBA programs, in line with other B-schools in Latin America, but 47% in the full-time Innovation & Entrepreneurship MBA and 43% in the EGADE-CENTRUM MBA. The latter is the only EGADE program that is 100% non-national; the rest vary widely, with the full-time MBA 38% foreign, the online MBA 35% international, and the Global OneMBA 19% non-Mexican.
EGADE MBA students are principally recruited from the technology services, financial services, and manufacturing sectors, with further inroads into the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), energy, professional services and consulting, and service industries. All MBA programs require a minimum of three years’ professional experience post-completion of an undergraduate degree; the average experience is considerably more in the three MBA programs, ranging from five years in the full-time MBA to 11 online.
Besides its OneMBA ranking 51st in FT‘s executive list, the triple-accredited EGADE also earned a spot at No. 55 in the 2020 QS Global MBA Ranking with its full-time MBA, which also was named No. 1 in Mexico and Latin America for Employability.
Raising EGADE’s profile outside of Latin America is the first step to drawing greater talent to that part of the world, de la Vega says. “International students add diversity, different perspectives, and industrial expertise into our classrooms,” he says. “But they also add to our efforts of pioneering the best institution in advancing management education. And EGADE Business School has always been a member and accredited by the main global accreditation bodies. It’s a distinction from a school perspective — but something even more important: It brings us into continuous improvement.
“How do we keep growing as a school, keep growing in our impact on our communities? It’s something we take very seriously.”