Creating Future-Ready Management Graduates For Global Businesses

The impact of the pandemic and the subsequent changes have reignited the debate on the relevance of management education and the need for a globally relevant talent pool.

While the field of management education has undergone several distinct changes over the past decades, nothing can compare with the rapid transformation witnessed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the ongoing impact of a pandemic, management educators are facing the dilemma of crafting future-ready management graduates who can address the challenges faced by businesses, customers, and other stakeholders in different parts of the globe, with most of the students not even having the opportunity to step out of their homes, let alone set foot on their local or international campuses!    

The purpose of management education is to equip graduates to be key players in the workforce, who create short-term wins and long-terms organizational capabilities. It is expected that the rigour and transformational nature of management education prepares graduates to assess complex and unknown challenges faced by businesses, deal with ambiguity via sense-making, and inspire and lead talented people. The impact of the pandemic and the subsequent changes have reignited the debate on the relevance of management education and the need for a globally relevant talent pool.

Management Schools are long known to serve three core constituencies - businesses, student and alumni community, and faculty and staff. As the common saying goes, Business comes before the School in a B-School! This critical stakeholder of the management institutions has witnessed an unprecedented impact. The pandemic has pushed a reset button for most of the industries and businesses across the globe. The majority of the firms are faced with a survival challenge and many other organizations are struggling to redefine their business strategies and responses. Three other megatrends are simultaneously impacting business landscapes - exponential technological disruptions, changing customer needs, and demand for customer-centricity due to globalization and new employment models, such as remote and hybrid working, work from home, or work from any-where! 

The ripple effect of these megatrends is also impacting management institutions at large. Most businesses are seeking graduates who demonstrate a combination of excellent technical and functional competence along with leadership capabilities to lead a dynamic workplace and diverse, intercultural workforce. It is an unstated expectation that management education should prepare graduates with a global mindset, social and cultural agility, who understand the nuances of a rapidly changing, global, and regional business environment.  

These changes demand that management educators fundamentally re-think the purpose and strategies of their programs. They need to keep in mind other shifts, such as changing the student body and demographic mix. The entry of the larger number of Gen Z’s and the growing pool of highly motivated female participants into management schools is resulting in a diverse student body. Lastly, the emergence of new modes of delivery such as online, remote, and blended learning, has also impacted the entire student experience. The question thus is how can B-Schools continue to meet the growing demand for global business leaders in this new normal? B-Schools can adopt a three-pronged approach to effectively deliver value to all their stakeholders. 

Firstly, creating a learning experience that is personalized to each learner’s needs by adopting a ‘high touch digital & human’ strategy. Intelligent and effective adoption of education technology is making it possible to deliver immersive learning experiences, regardless of student’s location, making management education accessible to a larger pool of students. Newer EdTech solutions are making it effective for B-Schools for managing the student life cycle even in remote settings. By automating transactions, B-Schools can then focus on making human interactions for students more value-added, personalized, and focused on student transformation.

Secondly, creating ‘blended immersive experiences’ for students to appreciate and discover the complex nature of global businesses and cultures. These immersive experiences include short travel to different campus locations, addressing regional or global business challenges through case studies and projects, interacting with global business leaders, and engaging with diverse alumni bodies to develop an appreciation for diversity and inclusion in businesses. Here again, B-Schools can leverage technology-enabled learning through the use of AI, VR, and AR and learning through gamification tools.

Lastly, by creating a ‘global community’ that is focused on innovation and ideation to collectively address emerging challenges. Such a community creates a multiplier effect through sharing of best practices and collaboratively creating the next practices! The purpose of these communities is also to address the greater challenges faced by society at large, creating a sustainable and inclusive future for all.  

Management institutes need to rise to this occasion and play their role in shaping the future of global businesses by continuing to nurture resilient business leaders who can thrive in diverse cultures and regions.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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