Financial TimesBusiness School Briefing: Vetting CEOs, MBA apprenticeships and roles

May 4, 20210
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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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The FT’s Executive Education magazine 2021 will be published on Monday, May 10.

Find out what do chief learning officers want from executive education. Also view our directory of flagship management courses from business schools around the world, plus a list of providers of customised programmes. Discover how short courses help companies get back on track after Covid.

Employers shift focus from education to skills
Online training courses are helping those from diverse backgrounds pivot towards new jobs and promotions, writes Andrew Jack.

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Andrew Hill’s management challenge

If business leaders falter, their fall is usually well cushioned, not only by the financial perks of office, but by a safety net of useful contacts, and by a particular benefit that they enjoy: the benefit of the doubt.

That’s one conclusion I draw from the case of the former chief executive of the UK Post Office. She continued to accumulate non-executive jobs, even as clouds gathered about her role in pursuing the prosecution of sub-postmasters on her watch. She stepped down from most of those positions this month, after a court ruled they had been wrongly convicted.

My management challenge this week is to put yourself in the role of a company chair vetting candidates for board positions. Prominent former chief executives are bound to court criticism over their careers. What would you ask them, or their referees, to work out whether they are up to the job of non-executive? Send your concise ideas to bschool@ft.com.

Last week I asked what you thought of managers sitting in open plan offices with their teams. “Depends on the CEO,” commented “Bozzy” (@EEEFamily5) on Twitter. “The times I have been in the situation after a few weeks it becomes normal, no big deal and everybody tends to be in their own little bubble.”

In further reading, Margaret Heffernan, herself a noted business author, has been looking again at some business classics, unsparingly reassessing Jim Collins’ Good to Great and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point for Medium’s Marker. What makes Gladwell’s book uncomfortable today, she writes, is that with hindsight “we can see that every idea [he] champions also has a dark side”.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

Efforts by the British government to prevent business schools from repurposing MBA programmes as apprenticeship schemes are failing. Employers used money set aside under the apprenticeship levy to pay for their senior executives to complete MBA courses until the Department for Education changed the rules last year. This week, however, Cranfield School of Management launched an Executive MBA course that gets around the new rule by casting it as a senior leadership apprenticeship.

The British Council has published a report showing that business and management studies (BMS) is now the most popular degree subject, studied by about one in six undergraduates and a fifth of postgraduate students. Those from black, Asian, mixed and ‘other’ minorities represent 20.5 per cent of these UK-domiciled students, the highest proportion in any social science, humanities and arts subjects except for law.

My recommendation for further reading this week is an academic report in the Journal of Marketing assessing the value of business school research. The premise is that business school research is broken, and it offers potential remedies: focus on quality over quantity.

Data line

MBA and Online MBA alumni are more likely to be in senior management positions three years after graduation, writes Leo Cremonezi.

The average age of OMBA graduates is 35 years old and they tend to be in more senior positions. MBA alumni are younger, with a high proportion of them into junior management.

Bar chart of Percentage of alumni in different seniority levels three years after graduation showing High concentration of MBA and OMBA alumni in senior management positions

Top business school reads

Bill and Melinda Gates to end marriage after 27 years Couple say they will continue to work together at their charitable foundation

Warren Buffett sees ‘significant’ inflation amid ‘red hot’ US recovery Billionaire investor admits surprise at economic rebound as group reports $12bn quarterly profit

Stories from inside India’s Covid disaster: ‘No one has seen anything like this’ In a land of extreme inequality, no sector of society is being spared

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