UK MBA programmes are successfully matching anything California has to offer
In the wake of the financial calamity triggered by Trussonomics, much mention has been made of the relative financial acumen of the latest incumbent at Number 10.
Not only was Rishi Sunak a former Chancellor of the Exchequer; he also holds an MBA. Indeed, the Prime Minister himself has said that attending California’s Stanford business school changed his life by encouraging him to embrace “a bigger, more dynamic approach to change”.
But while Sunak represents a powerful advocate of the capacity of an MBA graduate to develop leadership skills, candidates for the degree harbouring corporate or political leadership ambitions need not head to the US to learn these skills.
In fact, with the value of sterling having recently fallen to an all-time low and inflation on the rise, one silver lining of the markets’ response to the Liz Truss/Kwasi Kwarteng mini-budget is that the strength of the US dollar may attract American students to study for their MBAs at a competitive cost in the UK.
And while the price may be competitive, that does not mean that students need compromise on quality.
Scotland can boast several world-renowned MBA programmes, including at the University of Strathclyde’s Business School, which has been ranked 26th out of 160 MBA programmes evaluated for Corporate Knights’ Better World MBA, rated as the most sustainable MBA programmes.
Strathclyde has been examining Stanford’s MBA programme closely of late with a view to developing a programme based on its Knight- Hennessy Scholars. This cultivates and supports a multidisciplinary and multicultural community of graduate students to deliver ‘engaging experiences that prepare graduates to be visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders who address complex challenges facing the world.’
This initiative looks set to be one of the beneficiaries of the recent donation of a US$70 million grant to Strathclyde by the Charles Huang Foundation.
Dr Charles Huang, who was awarded his PhD in marketing and MBA from Strathclyde, is the founder and chairman of Pasaca Capital, a California-based multi-billion-dollar evergreen fund with various global portfolio companies in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
He set up his foundation in 2020, looking for meaningful ways to give back to society and help others. Through it, his guiding principles of humanitarianism, global visions, and strong local economies align with value-based giving and investing.
It is these very principles that underpin Strathclyde’s MBA pro- gramme. Dr Phil Considine, director of executive education and development at Strathclyde Business School, suggests that where the school differs from many in the US is that while their key metric is salary increase on qualification, equally important metrics for Strathclyde are social and environmental impacts.
“We aim to help students under- stand that there’s not necessarily a trade-off between building a successful organisation and building a more sustainable planet and a more equitable society,” he said.
“The Truss/Kwarteng mini-budget and mindset asked the wrong questions. We want to develop MBA grads who understand that there are no simple answers – but that the starting point has to be asking the right questions.”
Dr Considine suggests that, while many MBA graduates will go on to run large businesses and multinational corporations, Dr Huang is an example of someone who did just that, before developing organisations concerned with delivering Covid testing that was usable, cost-effective, and accurate.
“He managed to combine social impact with a massively successful business and then looped it back by making a significant donation to the university so that, rather than pulling up the drawbridge, he helps to create the context that enables others to follow what he has achieved,” he said.
“What we don’t want our MBAs to do is to exacerbate inequality as we emerge from Covid and face massive economic turbulence. We want them to be in a position from which they understand the contribution they can make to realising inclusive growth and managing inequality.”
The Prime Ministers of the future, it seems, need no longer go west to develop the leadership skills that could benefit us all.