Modern MBA education: Ukrainian and Italian experience
Modern MBA education: Ukrainian and Italian experience
An essential component of training in MBA programs in kmbs are field modules. Participants can get acquainted with the management practices of different regions of Ukraine and other countries.
From September 13 to 17, the Executive-34 and Executive-35 groups had an on-site training module in Rome, which was implemented in cooperation between kmbs and Rome Business School (RBS). On the occasion, we spoke with Olena Zhyltsova, the Head of Executive MBA at kmbs, who accompanied the participants during their visit to Rome, and her colleague from RBS Antonio Shialletti, the Program Director MBA at RBS and Executive MBA in Belgrade, about the trends of modern MBA education.
What does it mean to be an international business school? How does kmbs / RBS implement this concept?
Olena: Let’s open the Fortune Global 500. All participants in this ranking operate worldwide. Moreover, more than half of small and medium-sized businesses are international in one way or another, with customers, suppliers, contractors, and consultants in different countries. A modern successful business is international. Accordingly, business education a priori cannot be local.
Business education should work with the participants’ global awareness. It should give them an understanding of different markets and cultures, basically to provide networking opportunities to expand the range of their contacts.
Another argument is working on “international case studies” is a more effective way to develop such important competencies as critical thinking, analytical skills, and management decisions. Imagine that you get a case where you need to display a certain food product of a Ukrainian manufacturer on the shelf of a Ukrainian retailer. And there is another case, where you need to bring the product of the German manufacturer on the shelves of DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) countries. Do you agree that the managerial muscle fever will be more noticeable after the second exercise?
Thus, there are many formats to be used by an international business school: global case studies, field modules, invitations of foreign professors, joint research… Both kmbs and RBS practice these formats.
Antonio: International business school is a must because the business nowadays is international. In the business environment, we always work at the international level in open markets. Competition is international/global, innovation is international/global, and therefore business education must be global to prepare future global leaders.
kmbs and RBS have partnered and we are giving evidence of the opportunity to integrate our educational systems and approaches in accordance with the principles of open-mindedness and multi-culturalism. The more we integrate, the more benefits our students will have, as, through our collaboration, we prepare the students to interact with and relate to different business cultures.
How to keep the focus of activity, own identity while being an international business school? Is it essential for you?
Olena: Yes, the balance between internationality, globality and authenticity, originality is very important. Exploring yourself, understanding your identity, your root strength, and your managerial and cultural tradition — all these give special energy.
We work a lot on this in various courses of our programs, including special courses of cultural and philosophical orientation. We pay attention to this issue in the field modules in Ukraine. We organize special trips to places of strength — Baturyn, Kachanivka, and Carpathian slopes.
Antonio: Yes, it is essential for us and it is easy to preserve our identities because each business school brings to the table its own identity and experience of its professors, therefore the important part is to match them and understand each other at the international level. Each business school has advantages that must be shared and used.
In the field of education, there is a tendency to reduce the duration of training. In particular, there are many express courses in business education; books like MBA in 10 days are published. How do you feel about this? Do you consider it to be a threat or a positive tendency?
Olena: For me, this is a question from the category of “How do you feel about Mozart’s Greatest Hits CDs or books like Textbook of World Literature?”
Sometimes, it’s better than nothing. After all, it opens the door to the world of development, forms questions and desires to carry on. Sometimes, it’s worse than nothing. Because it forms a superficial understanding, arrogance and the worst type of managers, of which we say “ignorance is not as terrible as the illusion of knowledge”.
Undoubtedly, it takes time to get quality academic and practical training, and not just to master certain business tools, but to learn to think and manage systems.
On the other hand, I am convinced that business schools should also become more flexible and properly integrate the request for MOOC discussion, cinema therapy, real-time-MBA, etc. into their programs.
Antonio:An Executive MBA course must make a difference in the mindset and experience of the participants. Therefore, the core of the MBA is at least one year of work and interactions with leading professors and industry experts, because the know-how and experience must be shared and discussed. It can be done online and in-person/on-campus, but it takes time to absorb and it takes high-level professors to communicate and share. Discussion is a key element in business and hence in business education. The difference between a top business school and an online video is the transfer of knowledge and experience. Business school is just a physical framework.
What insights did the joint RBS & kmbs module give you?
Olena: This module was thought-provoking. And now I would single out three insights.
First and foremost, it is important to understand the need to continue to systematically study the perspective from which people from different places look at the world. I always had books like The Culture Map (Erin Meyer) and Watching the English (Kate Fox) on my desk. EMBA kmbs program has Unexpected Islam and Know Japan courses… But that’s not enough! Sometimes, when you talk to a person from another culture, you feel how difficult it is to make a proper emphasis, and it’s not about a foreign language, the pitfalls lie much deeper.
Secondly, above we talked about understanding one’s own identity and strength, about the ability to communicate them. I pay tribute to the Romans. Preserved architecture, deep sound of history, culture, identity… We also have it all. And it is worth working with it systematically and without sham nationalism!
Thirdly, it is necessary to continue, to enter unknown territories, to look for asymmetric and unexpected points of intersection. According to my colleague Professor Antonio, there are many of them in Ukraine and Italy, in Kyiv and Rome.
Antonio: Great opportunities could be leveraged by Ukraine and Italy, for example, in the green energy and food and beverage sectors. We reached understanding, and it is nice to see how the know-how of business from RBS could match the needs for leading business representatives in Ukraine. We can delve into the business models of leading companies, and study their business cases in order to speed up the business development of Ukrainian companies.
How do you evaluate the final project works of the module participants?
Olena: I should probably explain to the readers what kind of project it was. We had a meeting with Enel, which took on the ambitious challenge of de-carbonizing Sardinia. Enel representatives shared their strategy of transforming the “emerald island” and in response offered our participants to put on the table in five days a strategic project to de-carbonize a certain territory of Ukraine, starting with a reasoned choice of location to developing a strategic intention and plan, and ending with financial and investment calculations.
The participants conducted a thorough self-preparation. They shared that they had unexpectedly studied the scenarios for the de-carbonization of Hawaii and Paris. Then they applied the whole kmbs methodology, inputs from RBS professors, and gave a superb result.
Why am I sure of this? Because Enel asked to share with them the materials of all four projects. Can there be a better verification?
Antonio:Top! I was personally impressed by their capabilities to overcome the initial incomplete info in order to shape some interesting business models for the implementation of the electrification approach in selected regions of Ukraine. I strongly believe that they implemented an advanced approach resulting in top presentations.