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B-Schools Hone Silicon Valley Innovation With Tech, Management Fusion

$2bn Cornell Tech school highlights growing trend of technology and management marriage, as business students opt for innovation.

Tue Jun 16 2015

The latest stage in the construction of Cornell Tech, the $2 billion high- technology education venture on Roosevelt Island in New York, was completed this week — the latest sign that US business schools are rebooting with a Silicon Valley focus.

The Bridge at Cornell Tech unveiled this week provides opportunity for a limited number of start-ups and established companies which are pushing the boundaries of digital tech to incubate on the campus.

“Cornell Tech has already made great strides in fusing academia and industry in our academic and research programs, and The Bridge will be the physical manifestation of that mission,” Dan Huttenlocher, Cornell Tech dean, said.

“The Bridge will be the epicentre of this fusion on campus, putting practitioners, companies, students, faculty and researchers in close proximity to one another.”

The Bridge will house an ecosystem of companies, researchers and entrepreneurs who are focused on catalysing innovation and the commercialization of new products and technologies — driving economic growth.

The incubator space is tipped to remove barriers to collaboration and innovation with the world’s most cutting-edge companies. This collaboration is becoming key for the world’s top business schools, which are marrying management with tech.

“The combination of understanding the technology and developing a strong business skill-set is a powerful asset for an organization,” said Sue Kline, senior director of the Career Development Office at MIT Sloan School of Management.

Last week, US business school UCLA Anderson launched a new tech management centre with an $11 million donation from James L Easton, the chief executive officer of Jas D Easton, which manufactures and distributes archery and sports equipment.

“I saw a need for leaders in technology, engineering and manufacturing with knowledge and talent to create innovative products…By learning skills in management, communication and negotiation,” he said.

The centre expands the Easton Technology Leadership Program, established at UCLA Anderson in 2009, which was designed to develop strong business leadership skills in students from technical backgrounds. The program has 400 participants, with 30% of the 2016 class interning at tech companies this year.

Paul Schoonenberg, MBA careers head at Aston Business School, said that the relentless commercialization of technology over the past few years has seen opportunities open for business school students to apply their skills at tech groups.

“Companies who hire our students appreciate their multidisciplinary perspectives,” said Michael Goul, chair of the Information Systems Department at W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State.

The first MBA cohort at Cornell Tech — 75% of whom come from STEM backgrounds — began learning at a temporary campus at a Google building in Manhattan last year. Cornell Tech wants to enrol 2,000 postgraduate students by 2043. The university is scheduled to open fully in 2017.

Its fusion of tech and management mirrors a trend across the business education landscape.

The MSc in Technology Commercialization at McCombs School of Business in Texas is focused on technology, business and innovation; South Carolina’s Aiken’s School is developing a part-time MBA aimed at students with undergraduate degrees in STEM subjects; programming courses have long ran at both Harvard and Stanford business schools.

Business school students are increasing seeking careers at the crux of business and technology.

“Technology companies are seen to be the place of innovation and creativity, and this is really attractive to MBA candidates,” said Paula Quinton-Jones, director of career services for Hult International Business School, whose degrees are focused on innovating in all stages of the value chain.

At Michigan Ross, for example, online retailer Amazon hired more MBAs last year than any other company — including Deloitte, McKinsey and Citigroup. At Duke’s Fuqua School, Apple has hired 74 students and graduates for internships and full-time roles over the past five years.

And at Henley Business School, more MBA students are knocking on the door of career services to ask about business analytics opportunities, said Naeema Pasha, head of careers. “Big data career options are increasing,” she said.

The Bridge at Cornell Tech was developed by a subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises, a NYSE-listed real estate company with $8.8 billion in total assets.