Why The MBA Needs To Change
Back in February 2020, a majority of B-school leaders said they expected fundamental change to the MBA in the next five years. Few likely knew just how fast a global health pandemic could accelerate that need for change. Nearly a month later, MBA programs across the world would be forced to close up campus, adopt virtual learning, and ensure the proper technologies and systems to handle such a large transition.
COVID-19 has not only changed the MBA, but according to Paulina Karpis, cofounder and CEO of brunchwork it has also changed the meaning behind the MBA. In a Forbes piece, Karpis breaks areas where the MBA is lacking and what an MBA could mean in a post-COVID world.
“Covid-19 has changed not only the MBA’s meaning, but it has also upended many professionals’ career ambitions,” Karpis writes. “And hiring managers’ needs.”
A NEED FOR REAL-TIME
Karpis argues that too often the MBA focuses on analyzing the past through its use of case studies. Students look back to history and study a challenge that a company faced and analyze the solutions that dealt with that problem.
“But as leaders around the world learned this year, nothing we’ve done in the past could have prepared us to deal with a global pandemic,” Karpis writes. “For years, I’ve heard hiring managers say they don’t want a team member who’s been out of the workforce studying old solutions to old problems; they want someone who’s been actively solving current problems in real time.”
A NEED FOR DIVERSITY
The MBA has long had a diversity issue. And while minority numbers have gradually increased in recent years, B-schools as a whole still lack equal representation.
“MBA programs are notoriously male, wealthy, and white. So, while business schools like to say that their curriculum teaches students to work well with others—in most cases, that means a pretty homogenous group,” Karpis writes. “For companies that care about diversity, equity, and inclusion (which is, increasingly, all of them), MBA programs haven’t historically been the breeding grounds of the inclusive, forward-thinking leaders they’re looking for.”
Karpis says that the MBA needs to change. When exactly that change is coming, nobody can predict. What we do know, however, is that a global pandemic most definitely can accelerate the need for something new.
“My hope is that modern business education will focus on real-time learning and application of that knowledge; allow students to build more diverse and inclusive networks; and—crucially—not plunge them into a mountain of debt,” Karpis writes.