A degree of difference in the business world

The Life: It seems everybody has an MBA these days, so what is the point in doing one? Diane Morgan, associate dean of degree programmes and career services at London Business School argues the case.
Diane Morgan highlights the importance of showing up on time. Delores Johnson / The National
Diane Morgan highlights the importance of showing up on time. Delores Johnson / The National


q There are hundreds of MBA programmes these days. Does it really add value if so many people have this degree?

a There are a lot of MBAs. There is a pretty big difference to the group at the top and the rest. All of them have value … I think that it depends what you need it for. If you're looking for a global career, and if you're looking for the global connection and you're also looking for the profile of people, you also need to be surrounded by people that have a similar profile. Ours is a general management programme that allows you to really see across a different kind of spectrum because of the people in the class.

q What do students from the UAE lack in terms of competencies at the start of the course?

a There are some pretty practical ones like just showing up on time … This is an academic degree with a rigorous curriculum, and deadlines are not negotiable. I think that's part of doing business in the global world … Almost 20 per cent of our students come from Abu Dhabi for this programme, so we allow time for traffic for them, but it starts when it starts. And the expectations about what you have to deliver are pretty high, both for yourself and the group dynamic. So it seems silly, but that's actually one of them.

q Any others?

a The other piece is some of these technical skills, so a lot of people we find have been doing roles because they know how to do them, and they're actually not really clear on what some of the theory is behind it … The self-awareness piece about the fact that there might be another way to do things or other people might be doing it better. That's also been a learning curve for people who often haven't had that feedback. I think that's typical, though, with [MBA students] across the board. Often they haven't experienced failure.

q The school has been operating in the UAE for four years now. What has changed in that time?

a When we first started in Dubai, we started with a different type of programme … It was a shorter programme than we had in London and we tried to design the curriculum to be a little bit more flexible. But over the last couple of years, we have realised that it has to be the same programme … As a school, our vision is to have a profound impact on the way that the world does business, and it can't just be London out. It needs to be pushing back in.

* Gillian Duncan

Published: October 30, 2011 04:00 AM


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