Entrepreneurship has been a hot topic in MBA programs in recent years, and business schools have been busy boosting the benefits of their programs for students interested in starting their own companies.
However, a recent report from Carrington Crisp suggests that entrepreneurship is no longer as valued by students as it once was. So, how do business schools adapt to the needs of students for the future?
At Cass Business School, their innovative MBA program aims to equip students with entrepreneurial skills that are valuable in any sector.
“I like to say that being entrepreneurial doesn’t mean that everybody ends up having their own company,” says Aurore Hochard (pictured below, right), head of entrepreneurship programs at Cass. “I think we also need to speak about intrapreneurs, and the benefits of being more entrepreneurial in a corporate environment.
“Everyone needs to become more entrepreneurial. These are concepts that you just can’t ignore. The things that seem to be more like trendy words or buzzwords, like cryptocurrency—it is real.”
Cass Innovate, a school-wide event that focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership at Cass, aims to drive that message home from the get-go. Although not aimed primarily at students, Aurore says that this year’s conference resonated particularly with MBAs—it took place during the opening week of the program.
This year's event—organized under the theme ‘The Future Is Now’—tackled a diverse range of topics including artificial intelligence, raising capital through cryptocurrency, as well as what business lessons can be gained from Formula 1. It attracted entrepreneurs from a wide range of business sectors.
Faculty on the Cass MBA—ranked the number five program in the world for entrepreneurship by the Financial Times—are also introducing innovating ways of learning both in the classroom and outside of it to teach their students key future skills.
In 2017 Cass launched the MBA Expeditionary society, which sends MBA students each year on unique 'stretch experiences' led by distinguished mountaineers and explorers, giving students a unique perspective on leadership,
Professor Stefan Haefliger, who spoke on a panel at Cass Innovate about the future of the work, says that global trips help to engage students in a different way, and further develop their entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
“Courage and creativity are skills that you have to learn, and often we mislearn it in school," Stefan notes. "It’s always this balance between 'online' and 'offline' that makes our MBA creative and fun.”
Daniel Gill (pictured right), a recent graduate of the Cass MBA program, says that it's the forward-looking approach to learning that makes Cass unique.
“The technology that is around today is going to be somewhat irrelevant in 20 years, but I still think I’ll be able to process new technology and think about what the advantages of it might be [because of my experience at Cass]."
His former MBA colleague, Mehdi El Azhari, agrees. “You have to keep learning with time, so you don’t become obsolete on the market,” he says. “As a Cass MBA graduate I have one free elective per year for life—so I can come back, sit again with the students of next year, and learn about what has happened this year."
Developing innovative ways of thinking was also a key focus of Cass Innovate. This was no clearer than in the lecture by Dr Paolo Aversa, senior lecturer in strategy and course director of the Full-time MBA at Cass, who BusinessBecause interviewed earlier this year.
His lecture given at the conference, entitled, ‘The future is fast: lessons from Formula 1,’ detailed the ways in which the business sector can learn from a possible unconventional area.
Aurore says that Paolo is a prime example of the kind of experiential and innovative teaching at Cass Business School that is incorporated into the MBA program.
“What I like about Paolo is that he uses his passion to deliver something. I think that's a great skill he’s got, and I think it shows that no matter how technical your ideas are it’s the ability to connect that’s important, so you understand the parallel he’s trying to make,” she says.
One of the aims of Cass Innovate, Aurore adds, was to demonstrate that being an entrepreneur is not something you learn in the books, but that you have to live.
“The biggest skill to develop as an MBA is to be ready for a change that you don't even anticipate—a lot of the connections happen beyond the academic learning.”