Business Schools Offer Skills That Last a Lifetime

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Thursday, September 14, 2023
By AACSB Staff
Photo by iStock/jacoblund
If you're seeking a comprehensive education that prepares you to lead in the rapidly evolving world of work, look no further than business school.
  • Business schools teach students of all ages and career stages—from undergraduate to executive—durable skills like leadership, collaboration, and problem-solving that are crucial for thriving in today’s business world.
  • Business education fosters a professional network that exposes students to a wide range of knowledge, industries, and career opportunities.
  • Today’s business courses are continuously updated to incorporate new technologies and tools that prepare graduates to lead in the digital workplace, regardless of industry.

Today’s business world is marked by vast technological change, a deep need for effective leadership, and collaboration across functional areas and geographic regions. To succeed in this landscape, leaders must develop a variety of skills and competencies that enable them to adapt to continual organizational shifts as well as understand and empathize with others to achieve common goals.

Much of the fear and uncertainty around new technology is based on a limited understanding of how it works. Even powerful new artificial intelligence (AI) projects are still dependent on human input and human management and will only be used successfully by people who can design workflows and optimize their teams to benefit from them. These kinds of skills—leadership, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and so on—cannot be automated, which makes them all the more important to the modern economy.

Today’s business programs have adapted to this rapidly changing world—new digital technologies provide innovative options for delivering education, real-world learning experiences prepare students to be ready to lead on day one, and collaborative research opportunities offer solutions to societal challenges, both local and global. AACSB-accredited business schools help learners develop long-lasting connections and a durable skill set, which allows you to successfully work with the latest technologies while preparing for the next disruption.

Here are some of the ways studying at a business school can help you build career-defining skills:

Gaining Leadership Skills That Last

Behind these seemingly daily stories of disruptive technology is the reality of employees, teams, companies, and industries learning to adapt and build around the technology. Digital transformation doesn’t happen on its own—it requires leadership from managers and experts in order to steer their teams to successfully adopt and adapt. Successfully using new technology isn’t simply a matter of buying it and giving everyone access. Making sure your team is trained to optimize their usage of the technology, doing research to make sure it is worth investing time in, and forecasting what changes new technology could bring long-term are all crucial parts of leadership.

Successfully managing these sorts of transitions requires a number of skills—skills that are universally important at any organization, irrespective of its goals, size, or resources. Learning how to communicate with your team, assess each person’s skills and needs, and facilitate more efficient workflows, all while staying under budget, are just some of the skills that you learn and that will remain valuable to you for years to come. 

Building a Broad and Diverse Professional Network

Another long-term benefit of a business school education is the collaboration with your peers, professors, researchers, business leaders, and anyone else you meet as a student. There are a lot of ways to build a professional network, but few give you as many opportunities to meet people with a wide range of personal and professional skills, interests, and backgrounds. If nurtured, your network will only expand as you move forward with your career, allowing you to keep pace with trends in your industry and see what changes could be coming. It also can be a great way to seek advice for a problem you face, recruit new team members, or find a new job in your field—or in a different one.

If nurtured, your network will only expand as you move forward with your career, allowing you to keep pace with trends in your industry and see what changes could be coming.

The increasingly cross-disciplinary nature of business schools means that, rather than being siloed into one industry or one business discipline, you will meet people outside of what is most familiar to you and discover new opportunities and career paths that you didn't know existed. Team projects may involve students from IT, social sciences, humanities, and other fields, and they will often be from a variety of global regions, offering insights into how cultures outside of your own do business and view the world. These collaborations can spark new interests and ignite ideas about how you can apply your business education to any industry, or even start your own venture.

Understanding New Technologies

The acceleration of technological change has forced everyone to adapt. Tech skills have gone from being highly specialized to ubiquitous in every discipline, with marketers writing database queries and managers overseeing program integrations to improve the customer experience. The variety of digital solutions available can be overwhelming, and leaders need to be able to think critically about choosing the right technologies to solve specific business challenges while also considering the broader needs of the organization. Even though many resources freely exist to help users decide on tech tools, employees will still need to perform environmental scans of available tools and then lead the decision-making and implementation processes, which are lessons taught in business school.

Because technology and automation now touch every part of business, building a strong base of knowledge in current technologies as well as the skills to learn new tools will remain valuable throughout your career.

Machine learning tools and AI will continue to automate more basic functions. However, successful implementation, training, and efficiency are what make these tools valuable. Business schools regularly study new technologies and incorporate them into their course offerings, helping you develop the hard and soft skills to select the right solutions, successfully implement new tools, limit issues with adoption, and measure the results.

Because technology and automation now touch every part of business—from human resources, cost management, sales, marketing, support, and even press relations—building a strong base of knowledge in current technologies as well as the skills to learn new tools as they emerge will remain valuable throughout your career. Additionally, if you want to become even more immersed in STEM businesses, an increasing number of accredited business schools are offering programs focused on technology and STEM.

Planning Ahead

The modern business environment is full of change, which has shifted the skills emphasis to things like adaptability, innovation, and a willingness to reexamine “business as usual.” Moving fast, trying lots of different approaches, and understanding failure as a normal part of innovation are all attitudes that are becoming more common. The pace of change has forced all of us not to become too reliant on one tool, one process, or one way of doing things, and the community and opportunities available to you at a business school allow you to cultivate a curiosity about the future and an iterative approach to building your skills.

While a business school education will give you a lot of practical skills and hands-on experience as a leader, it is also an opportunity to look toward the future, consider where current trends might be going, and read economic and social headwinds. Using the relatively low-stakes and collaborative setting of business school to hone your ability to predict changes and trends is the ideal way to avoid being caught off guard by a new technology or way of doing business.

Preparing for the Future

Business school is not the only way to develop these skills and build a professional network, but it does offer an unparalleled opportunity to do so in a brief time frame and with more and more options to study in a format that works best for you. The shift to remote work has led many schools to further explore hybrid and fully online business courses, giving you unprecedented flexibility without limiting your current career goals.

Even if you are established in your industry and just want another way to augment your skills, an accredited business school offers you a multitude of valuable courses and gives you access to experts who can advise you throughout your career.

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