A Parting Lesson on the Universal Need for Management Skills

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Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of GBSN’s newest member schools, IMT Dubai, while I was attending the Global Education and Skills Forum on behalf of GBSN. It is always enlightening to interact with educators who are putting into practice the principle of quality, locally relevant education. IMT Dubai is no exception. Its dynamic Dean, Francois Therin, took me on a tour through a campus at once globally aware and intensely localized.

At IMT Dubai I saw modern classroom design with movable chairs, multiple screens and a brainstorming wall. A music room featured a drum set and guitar, and the student lounge was a colorful and comfortable space that would feel appropriate in any global business school. IMT Dubai also has a strong commitment to women’s inclusion and equality, the Principles for Responsible Management Education, and the Sustainable Development Goals as a member of the UN Global Compact. They focus on a “real-world orientation” that includes experiential education to ensure that graduates have the 21st century skills that we hear so much about around the globe.

At the same time, the school designs its programs based on the needs of the uniquely diverse student population in Dubai. Most of its full-time students hail from India, as does 43% of the local population. These students and the program they participate in contrast with the mostly Emirati part-time MBAs, who come after working for a few years with a different orientation and perspective. Faculty and administrators like Therin are attuned to these differences and adjust pedagogy, student services and program design accordingly.

I returned to the theme of those 21st century skills at the Global Education and Skills Forum. It struck me as I spoke with and listened to educators, corporate executives and political leaders from around the world that these skills that we talk about as so fundamental to good management education – critical thinking, problem solving, communication, teamwork, global citizenship – are more and more making their way into every level of education, from primary school to vocational and technical training to mobile learning.

In this way I see that the business education space has the potential for increased collaboration with educators across the spectrum, and also with the private sector and civil society. All are working on the complex task of preparing people to think, to manage, to lead, to innovate, to explore and to disrupt the world around them.

It was a fitting lesson for me to learn – that the work of business schools is so universal – as this conference will be my last representing the Global Business School Network. After 7 years of serving GBSN’s mission to build management education capacity for the developing world I have accepted a position working with the Malala Fund to expand access to education for girls around the world.

I am leaving an exceptional team of people and a mission that I continue to believe is critical to sustainable prosperity across the globe. While I am excited for the next phase in my career, I will miss working with the wonderful colleagues that I have met through this network. 

As I consider the tasks ahead of me, I return to the theme of quality, locally relevant education and the value of those 21st century skills for every person. With these tools business schools play and important role fostering responsible leadership, strengthening local economies and producing knowledge that helps countries advance. To all of my colleagues at GBSN – on staff, in our membership and throughout the broader business education community – I wish you all the best in your endeavors and hope that our paths cross again in the not-too-distant future.

Page Buchanan has been with the Global Business School Network from 2011 until 2018. 

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