MBA in Entrepreneurship: Innovating for Student Demand

Roy Green, dean of UTS Business School at the University of Technology Sydney, and AACSB's EVP and chief strategy and innovation officer, Dan LeClair, talk about the evolution of business education programs based on what students are looking for.


Dan LeClair: [00:05] I've always appreciated our conversations about innovation because you've studied it, you've applied it in public policy, and you've done a great job of figuring out what innovation means in the context of business education.

[00:29] One thing that struck me, in particular, recently is to hear about your MBA in Entrepreneurship program, which is a bit unusual, is it not? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Roy Green: [00:40] It does result from the evolution of our thinking around business education, but it also responds to what our students are looking for from business education.

[00:50] Previously, we would have expected students to wish to develop careers in the corporate world and in government and community organizations.

[01:01] Now they're coming to us and saying they want an entrepreneurial experience while at university, and many of them, as well. This is 40 percent of our students, by the way. We took a survey to discover...

LeClair: [01:14] 40 percent?

Green: [01:15] 40 percent of the students entering UTS as a whole, the whole university, including the business school, want an entrepreneurial experience to prepare them for a world not only where jobs are changing, but many will not exist.

[01:32] They may not find jobs in existing organizations. They may have to create them themselves, and we're in the middle—in UTS—of an entrepreneurial precinct, probably the most vibrant and concentrated group of startup activities in the entire country. This is the environment that students enter.

[01:56] They want to have the kind of skills that enable them to create a new venture, to link with venture capital, to be born global—because Australia, while it's a large landmass, is a very small population, a very small market.

[02:13] For those students to survive in a business, they need to think globally right from the word go.

[02:20] We tell them, sure, in a new business it's fine to fail and to learn from that, but wouldn't it be better to succeed with the kind of skills we can provide in a very unique MBA program that is, in effect, an accelerated program?

[02:40] We have a filtering process for our incoming students. They have to have some kind of proposition, some kind of idea that they want to take from concept to reality. Then this program structures that with them.

[02:57] The odd thing about this program, that's, again, quite unique, is that we don't measure success by the number that complete, we also measure success by the number who leave because they've been successful in creating their business.

LeClair: [03:09] You're building the learning around the project or the idea, but you're also providing a platform of support with faculty consultation and perhaps even some connections to the engineering schools, things like that?

Green: [03:23] An important part of all of our programs now is that they are much more integrative. This was the thought process we went to when I started as dean, what is going to be the differentiator for this business school and for the university as a whole?

[03:37] It had to be something not just around practice based learning, which we were known for, but also more integrative thinking.

[03:45] We, in our undergraduate programs, start our students off with, in our bachelor of business, something we call integrated business perspectives. In other words, they don't specialize once they're straight out of high school.

[04:00] That's very daunting for students to think in that very specialized way given, as well, the fact that they don't know what kind of labor market they're entering when they complete their degree, and we don't know, either.

[04:13] They get this very broad brush program to start with, which is giving them techniques to think, techniques to analyze. We want to give them what we call boundary crossing skills that focus on creative and analytical problem solving rather than simply specialized knowledge, which is important, but it's only part of that broader picture.

LeClair: [04:38] That specialization might help them get their first job but maybe not develop their careers in it.

Green: [04:42] That's exactly right.

LeClair: [04:43] And it may not help them create those jobs, as you talk about...

[04:46] [crosstalk]

Green: [04:46] Exactly right.

Filmed April 2017 on site at AACSB's International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) in Houston, Texas, USA.