Working professionals pursuing a master's of business administration (MBA) degree are typically about 27 years old, while more the more established Executive MBA (E-MBA) student is 37 years old on average. On a recent visit to the Dubai campus of Manchester Business School (MBS), the school's chief global officer, Nigel Banister, spoke about MBS's programme.
Q: How are E-MBAs different from regular MBAs?
A: The fundamental difference is that E-MBAs are flexible, part-time programmes for experienced, working professionals which allow them to continue their careers whilst studying, as opposed to the traditional full-time programmes which are taught on campus.
Q: Schools often get criticised for following trends in the marketplace rather than being at the forefront. How is MBS trying to stay head of the curve with its curriculum?
A: MBS does not follow trends, but the global economic crisis has given the business world and business schools a lot to think about - from governance to social responsibility and leadership - and we need to be responsive but also proactive.
Q: The way businesses operate here is sometimes different from elsewhere. What has helped to localise the programme?
A: We do not localise programme content, which is already very international, and which is delivered by a very international team of faculty members. However, localisation takes place on the ground at workshops where faculty use local case studies and look at local companies as part of the highly practical learning approach in workshops. And, of course, our students localise their learning by applying their own very diverse local experience of the business practices of the region.
Q: What drawbacks are there of E-MBAs these days?
A: There are very few drawbacks, but students must commit a large amount of personal time. A sympathetic and supportive family and employer are helpful, [as is] a school that provides student support 24/7 from a local office.
Q: Your school recently passed the milestone of having 1,000 part-time E-MBA students in the Middle East. Isn't there a concern that too many people will end up with this degree, thereby diminishing its value?
A: Not all MBAs and schools are the same. The 2011 Financial Times survey ranks our MBA fourth in the UK, 11th in Europe and 29th in the world. MBS applies the same high standards of MBA student entry criteria worldwide. Our Middle East centre in Dubai has done a fantastic job of recruiting over 1,000 MBA students in less than five years. We do not expect our overall student numbers to continue to increase and our objective will be maintain quality by recruiting high-quality students and provide them with world-class support, a career-transforming experience, and a lifelong relationship.
* Neil Parmar