MBA Programs Seek to Create More Well-Rounded Grads

Last week Forbes ran an article titled “Trying to Create a Well-Rounded MBA,” which discusses some of the steps business schools have recently taken to ensure that their graduates enter the world with more than just “hard” skills just as finance and operations. It is becoming increasingly critical for MBAs to have creative abilities and other “softer” skills, and this article looks at some programs that are particularly innovative in this area.

One example is ESADE in Barcelona, which deliberately brings together corporate managers, union leaders, and politicians to study business. The result is that all sides are exposed to a broader range of viewpoints than they’d hear in a more typical MBA program. ESADE has also partnered with design schools to teach its students how to apply the basic tools of design to business problems. Even if most ESADE grads don’t pursue a job that directly ties to design or industrial design, the school’s thinking is that all of its grads can benefit from exposure to this discipline.

Other programs, such as Warwick Business School, sends its students to a program run by the Royal Shakespeare Company. While the connection between Shakespeare and management may seem weak, these students learn how to better use verbal and nonverbal communication techniques to improve their managerial effectiveness. While some students are extremely uncomfortable with putting themselves on stage, most agree that pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones is exactly why they came to business school in the first place.

While no business school has perfected the model for creating well-rounded MBAs, these programs have come closer than many others, including other schools’ joint-degree programs. The process of creating the perfect MBA program — one that creates well-rounded grads who know more than just balance sheets and operations models — will likely be an evolutionary one, but thee schools have made a good start.

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