Top Business School Deans Discuss The Future Of MBAs

The rapid development of artificial intelligence and machine learning calls into question the future of the MBA degree

Top Business School Deans Discuss the Future of MBAs

In 2022, business schools saw a 3.4% drop in MBA applications globally.

The business world is always evolving—and for business schools that means constant innovation is necessary. US News recently sat down with deans from the University of Chicago’s Booth School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, and UPenn’s Wharton School to discuss their priorities, their students’ aspirations, and what they see down the road for their schools.

THE MOST CRITICAL CHALLENGE FACING BUSINESS LEADERS TODAY?

Emerging technology has placed an even greater need for businesses to have competent leaders who can bring an array of knowledge and skills to the table.

“Businesses are dealing with exponentially increasing amounts of data, and will need to leverage technology to the greatest extent possible,” Madhav Rajan, dean of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, says. “The rapid pace of change also poses a challenge, and managers must be nimble and effective to stay ahead of it. While a solid foundation of domain competency is valued and essential, it is not sufficient for effective leadership.”

At Booth, MBA students are not only equipped with the knowledge of the latest trends, but also with the skills to effectively make decisions and implement them.

“Booth’s flexible curriculum allows students to follow their interests and aspirations with minimal course requirements,” Rajan says. “The institution has always valued independent thought: We do not prescribe a set leadership style but instead prepare students to develop their own.”

WHAT FIELDS ARE MBAs INTERESTED IN?

Traditional business fields, such as venture capital and private equity, have long been popular destination for MBA grads. But the rise of AI has brought increased interest in other fields as well.

“We are seeing growing interest in the field of AI (artificial intelligence), in entrepreneurship through acquisition (ETA), and a continued strong interest in strategy consulting,” Rajan says. “We also are seeing sustained interest in a wide range of roles within the technology sector, including product management, operations, finance, strategy, and marketing.”

At Northwestern’s Kellogg, MBAs are eager to learn about the power of AI and data science.

“Our students understand that proficiency in emerging technologies and the application of big data is now a business imperative regardless of the industry they enter,” Francesca Cornelli, dean of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, says. “We are also seeing increased interest in entrepreneurship among our students. In fact, 70 percent of our full-time and part-time students take an entrepreneurship course.”

Today’s MBA grads are not only interested in making a business impact, but a societal impact as well.

“They are much more purpose- and passion-driven than previously,” Nicolaj Siggelkow, vice dean of the MBA program at UPenn’s Wharton School, says. “Fortunately, there are many more opportunities in these spaces, as most organizations need to substantively address issues such as their environmental impact, the sustainability of their supply chains, and their diversity and inclusion efforts within their organization.”

Sources: US News, P&Q

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