Financial TimesBusiness School Briefing: MBA webinar, supply chain, business books

March 8, 20210

Welcome to Business School Briefing. We offer you insights from Andrew Hill and Jonathan Moules, and the pick of top stories being read in business schools. Edited by Wai Kwen Chan and Andrew Jack.


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Andrew Hill’s management challenge

The pandemic has put a premium on skilled managers who know how to run a resilient supply chain, as I have written this week.

One reason to secure an expert supply chain director is that the public will usually blame the biggest company in the chain, not the small supplier, if something goes wrong — as happened in 2013, for instance, when Tesco had to withdraw burgers tainted with horsemeat. After early missteps, the company made clear that it would not hide behind suppliers. 

For my management challenge, draft instead the worst possible message to customers from a chief executive caught out by a supply chain problem. Send your nightmare non-apologies to

Plenty of takers for last week’s challenge to lay out advice to embattled McKinsey. Martin Ellis offered 10 short suggestions ranging from “flat rate for partners — no bonuses” to “focus on local talent — stop seagull consulting” (fly in, drop off, fly away).

In further reading, I caught up with Zachary Crockett’s 2020 article from The Hustle that tells you more than you ever thought you needed to know about the economics of vending machines. “The allure of a semi-passive income has led to a spike in vending during the pandemic,” Crockett writes — but, as the article makes clear, the active part of the “semi-passive” role of vending machine entrepreneur can be demanding and costly.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

Pandemic campus lockdowns have not only forced management professors to embrace online teaching – converting some sceptics in the process. They have also encouraged several leading schools to push forward with plans for digital only courses. The latest is ESMT Berlin, which has announced a Global Online MBA programme, allowing students to study at their own pace, taking up to five years to complete it if they wish.

British business schools have received a coronavirus shot in the arm thanks to the UK government unveiling a £220m package to help fund management education teaching for small business owners. The push to improve leadership skills gives an added purpose to the business schools and should help bond them more closely to the communities in which they are based. You can read the details here.

My recommended read this week is this piece in the Harvard Business Review on taking a break even when you are unable to stop using a screen. These suggestions feel more realistic alternatives for those of us who feel a strong pull to be online throughout the day.

Data line

Men make up most of the demand for MBA places, but there is a slow and steady increase in female students in the last five years, according to data from the FT’s MBA rankings, writes Leo Cremonezi.

Line chart of Average percentage of female faculty, advisory board members and students at business schools listed in the Financial Times MBA ranking in the past five years showing Female representation at MBA schools is slowly improving

The data shows that after some stagnation, there has also been a tiny increase in female representation among schools’ faculty and advisory boards.

How good is your knowledge of the news?

Answer our 10 question quiz.

Top business school reads

Italy blocks shipment of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines to Australia Intervention threatens to increase global tensions over procurement of Covid jabs

EU turns to US in scramble for Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine Move is part of bloc’s effort to boost faltering immunisation programme

Inside the ‘Covid Triangle’: a catastrophe years in the making | Free to read
Three east London boroughs were already at breaking point. Then the pandemic struck

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