The future of the MBA, according to executives and senior executives


THROUGH Jordan friedmanJuly 19, 2021, 02:00

In a data-driven world powered by digital technology, businesses are constantly evolving. Because the MBA degree aims to prepare the business leaders of tomorrow, programs offering this degree must align their programs with the ever-changing demands of the workplace.

Senior executives and senior executives at four Fortune 500 companies shared their predictions on how MBA programs will adapt to the needs of today’s businesses. So what’s in store? They expect more students to pursue online MBAs in the future, and a world where big data is crucial to making business decisions. Here’s what they’ll be watching for in the years to come, as the MBA continues to evolve.

Ronald schellekens

Executive Vice President and Director of Human Resources, PepsiCo

Future business leaders will need skills that will help them meet current and future business challenges, including a digital mindset, a focus on lifelong learning, the ability to make data-driven decisions, and a critical thinking, says Schellekens, who holds a master’s degree in management and organization and completed a management development program at Harvard Business School.

“With the increasing focus on digital transformation and the use of data to generate critical business insights, we are starting to see a shift in the business skill sets we are targeting for the future,” says Schellekens by e -mail. PepsiCo is partnering with some leading MBA programs to ensure that business training stays up to date with what is happening in the corporate sector, he adds.

According to Schellekens, future business leaders must be able to lead change with “speed and agility”, as well as “connect people to technology to solve business problems”. According to Schellekens, other skills worth highlighting for MBA programs include emotional intelligence and empathetic, authentic leadership.

Judy Bord

Corporate Vice President of Human Resources, FedEx

Today, MBA programs should equip students with the development skills needed to run digital businesses, says Edge, who earned an online MBA almost two decades ago, when this learning format first took hold. appearance. In a diverse workforce, business leaders also need to be able to interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures, she says.

“I hope that MBAs really start to focus more on the areas of digital life and how organizational structures are changing,” says Edge. And MBA programs must also teach students to lead in times of tragedy and crisis – during a pandemic, after a mass shooting and in the midst of social injustice, for example, she adds.

What else is in store for the MBA? According to Edge, more and more students, from a wider variety of professional backgrounds, are pursuing studies online, especially as more affordable options are developed, according to Edge.

“With Zoom and everything that we adopted during the pandemic, I think people have really come to accept it more,” said Edge, noting that many universities now offer high quality online MBAs.

Bryony winn

Chief Strategy Officer, Anthem

Hiring talent with diverse perspectives and backgrounds is becoming increasingly important, says Winn, who previously worked at McKinsey & Company as consultant and partner. Many MBA programs now focus on creating a student culture that explores how to better understand business challenges from different perspectives.

“I suspect what we’ll see in the future are the MBA programs that really promote the diversity of their admissions class, the diversity of experiences they can learn during the program,” said Winn, who obtained a master’s degree in philosophy of international development. . Winn expects that in the future, schools will weigh more heavily on the lives and multicultural experiences of MBA applicants alongside more traditional admission requirements, like test scores.

Additionally, Winn says that greater acceptance of distance learning due to the pandemic could attract more women to MBA programs.

“I think being able to work in this more flexible and hybrid way is probably easier, certainly for moms,” she says.

Angela Santone

Senior Executive Vice President of Human Resources, AT&T

If the pandemic has taught us anything about higher education, it’s that you can be as effective online as you are in person, says Santone, who has a master’s degree in counseling. She says that due to the prevalence of virtual communication over the past year, it is now “more accessible and bearable to imagine” completing a full training course online.

“I think it’s sometimes impossible for individuals to imagine attending classes online or doing everything online. But now that’s just the norm, ”Santone says.

This learning format has made possible (and will continue to make possible) more opportunities for employees to continue their education while working, she says, not only in the form of MBAs and other degrees, but also smaller diplomas such as nanodegrades, know-how. credentials based on different technology areas and other certifications.

“With the way the world is changing, the skills that are important today may not be important in a year or two,” she says. “Technology has changed so much.


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