Today, we enthusiastically announced GBSN Beyond. Rather than tell you immediately what that is, I would like to share the story of its development, taking you behind the scenes at the Global Business School Network. You’ll then find a link to follow at the end of this article.
The GBSN Annual Conference is our flagship event. Last year’s conference, hosted by Nova School of Business and Economics in Portugal, attracted the largest number of participants and delivered some of the most inspiring sessions in GBSN Annual Conference history. The next one, our 15th, was set for November in Miami, Florida, in the United States. We have been working closely with Miami Herbert Business School, which has been a supportive host.
In the early days of coronavirus, March and April, we were hopeful and wanted to believe that it would pass soon enough for us to stay with the original plan. Unfortunately, the month of May brought serious questions and June saw the situation worsen in the United States and several other countries, even while it improved in others. We became certain that COVID-19 will prevent us from holding the event we all anticipated.
At the time, we became convinced that, by November, few people would be enthusiastic about another virtual conference that merely replicates a face-to-face event. So we started to imagine new and different possibilities and have conversations with GBSN members and partners. Two opportunities became clear.
First, we wanted to be more inclusive by engaging business students and faculty, in addition to business school leaders. We asked ourselves, what if every business school leader could bring faculty members, student teams, and administrative colleagues to the international conference. By reimagining the conference, we wondered whether we could involve a larger, more diverse set of schools, especially from developing and emerging countries—schools that might find it too expensive to send even one person to Miami.
Second, we began to believe that we could actually accomplish much more than we normally do at a face-to-face event—that we could actually “move the needle” on the mission by working together to solve challenging problems, develop new skills, and invent innovative programs. By reimagining the conference, perhaps we could create a platform to accelerate the development of new programs.
We set out to find ways of achieving the two objectives and generated the vision that ultimately became GBSN Beyond. Perhaps we’ve piqued your curiosity by now. But wait, just a few more paragraphs before clicking ahead.
In the journey to creating GBSN Beyond, we learned a lot about some of the current challenges schools are facing. It has been impossible to provide some of the international experiences that students of business need and want. It has been hard to look ahead and plan for the future. But it has also been hard financially. As a consequence, we introduced a third objective and that is to appreciate, in everything that we do, that these are challenging times for business schools and universities.
For one person to travel for an international conference is already expensive when you consider air travel and lodging in addition to registration fees. Now, imagine what it would cost to bring your administrative colleagues, faculty leaders, and student teams to your next international conference. So, in the spirit of accessibility and inclusivity, we are introducing an institutional rate which allows an unlimited number of persons (students, faculty, and administrators) per institution to register and participate.
We have already generated a lot of support from key partners such as Capsim, Hanken School of Economics, MIT Sloan Global Programs, and Monash Business School. And we have dearly appreciated the support of Miami Herbert Business School in making the transition. Our Board of Directors is excited, as is the Annual Conference Steering Committee.
I hope this short account has piqued your interest about getting involved with GBSN Beyond. I also hope that it has revealed a little bit about who we are and what we value as an organization. It has been hard to hold back my excitement and desire to tell you more. Now that you’ve heard the inside story, we encourage you to visit www.gbsn.org/beyond and get behind GBSN Beyond. Sign up to receive more information about GBSN Beyond and contribute to its development—and, most of all, bring your whole school along for the global experience.
Dan LeClair is the Chief Executive Officer at the Global Business School Network. 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.