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Celebrating the Spirit of GBSN Beyond

Nine years ago I read about a $150 million gift to start an innovation center at Stanford University. What’s special about an innovation center in Silicon Valley? Well, the gift was specifically to alleviate poverty by creating the Stanford Institute for Innovation for Developing Economies. The institute, known as Stanford Seed, would bring together scholars across the campus but would be housed in Stanford Graduate School of Business.

It makes a lot of sense now. After all, the motto of Stanford GSB is “Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world” and Stanford Seed is now a member of the Global Business School Network (GBSN). But the announcement surprised me at the time and had a major influence on my thinking about business schools. In fact, there have been many such moments throughout my career that contributed to my beliefs and, ultimately, influenced my views about the mission and direction of GBSN.

Sometimes it’s about getting an inside view of what business schools do. It has been a privilege in my career to have daily conversations about the amazing work of leading business schools. I recall my first meeting with the leadership team at Hanken School of Economics and learning for the first time about the school’s global leadership in humanitarian logistics and how important that has been during the covid pandemic. In a recent meeting with the leadership team at Leeds University Business School, I could feel the incredible power of inspiring and enabling an academic staff of over 200 people, and connecting them across disciplines within the school and across institution to address global challenges that can enable business to be more sustainable. I was in a conference room in MIT Sloan’s Global Programs office, when an introduction to MIT REAP transformed my thinking about executive and experiential education, illustrating how innovative such approaches can be and how such programs can impact a whole community and not just an individual or organization.

I’ve learned throughout my career by working closely with schools, experiencing their people, culture, and commitment. My first time in Egypt, in the Moataz Al-Alfi Hall on the new campus of the American University in Cairo, I was struck by the importance and depth of cross-sectoral dialogue in the anniversary business forum I participated in. In another context, I recall meeting Michaela Ranken of Monash Business School for the first time because she traveled from Melbourne to Mumbai to voluntarily contribute to our experiential learning workshop for Indian professors. I remember the unbridled enthusiasm of the remarkable student team from Universidad de Los Andes who took the top prize in our first HUMLOG Challenge.

It’s not just the universities and business schools in the higher education ecosystem. I remember hosting a team from Capsim and having a creative discussion about their Inbox product. I learned from the meeting that we need to take steps to teach and enable, with authoring tools for example, professors to build more interactive experiences for learners.

With more than two decades working in business education globally, I could have listed many more examples. But all of the organizations I highlighted have something in common; they are high-level sponsors of GBSN Beyond. Sure, it is one way to say thank you—to demonstrate our appreciation for “Going Beyond” in their contribution to our mission.

These organizations embody the spirit of GBSN Beyond. They reflect the culture and commitment of GBSN to its mission “to improve access to quality, locally-relevant management and entrepreneurship education.” But as the examples illustrate, the organizations not only embody the spirit of GBSN Beyond, they helped to create it. And they live that spirit—part of their sponsorship commitment enables schools from lower income countries to participate in Beyond.

You see, GBSN Beyond is about breaking boundaries, paving new territory for business education. It’s about the work of business schools across sectors—at nexus of business, government and civil society. It’s about being inclusive of a wide range of schools in the Global South as well as Global North. It means connecting globally to make a positive impact locally.

The spirit of GBSN Beyond is embedded in the core experiences we’re providing. From the student HUMLOG Challenge offered with Hanken to the faculty Microsimulation Development Lab with Capsim. You’ll see the spirit written into the criteria for our Going Beyond Awards, which we’re initiating with EFMD. And you’ll see it in the fantastic program featuring a diverse set of leaders from academia and beyond, including organizations such as Visa, Amazon Web Services, and Deutsche Post DHL to name a few, all addressing our core themes related to advancing climate action, health, human rights, and humanitarian logistics, as well as the transformative role of business schools.

Finally, and most importantly, the spirit of GBSN Beyond is embodied by the participants in GBSN. We already have nearly 60 schools from more than 30 countries signed up to engage their students, faculty, and leaders in the core experiences and virtual conference. They are the stars of Beyond, creating new insights and solutions, building bridges across borders and sectors and disciplines.

If GBSN Beyond reflects the purpose and spirit of your school, we would love to have you. Register here. If, like the schools mentioned above, send me a message.

Dan LeClair, CEO

Dan LeClair is CEO of the Global Business School Network (GBSN). Widely recognized as a thought leader in management education, Dan is the author of over 80 research reports, articles, and blogs, and has delivered more than 170 presentations in 30 countries. As a lead spokesperson for reform and innovation in management education, Dan has been frequently cited in a wide range of US and international newspapers, magazines, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, China Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, and The Economist.