What Is The Future For Graduate Management Education? We Ask GMAC’s CEO & Chairman

BusinessBecause sits down with Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC CEO, and Bill Boulding, new GMAC chair and dean of Duke Fuqua, to discuss the hard-hitting trends shaping business education

Mistrust is still fired at Wall Street since the crash, which leads Bill to ask what we can do to broadly rebuild the reputation of the world of business as a positive force in society that improves lives?  

Must Be Altruistic

Rebuilding begins with business schools and their graduates and ends with the corporations they either enter or build themselves.

The admissions process is going to have to accommodate more than a candidate’s IQ. Last year, BusinessBecause published an article looking at the importance of EQ—emotional intelligence—in the overall application process.

Now, say Bill and Sangeet, there is a third layer—DQ, or decency quotient.

“The current discourse is around hateful rhetoric, and an absence of decency,” laments Bill. “We should and could treat each other with respect and compassion.”

You do, of course, still need the smarts. But, a combination of strong IQ, EQ, and DQ enables leaders to bring the best out of those around them.

People like Apple CEO, Tim Cook, and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates—both of whom Bill taught when they were students at Fuqua School of Business—may have been ethically-minded, but Fuqua had a responsibility to help mold them into the leaders they are today.

Indeed, business schools will employ their own mechanisms to assess EQ and DQ, Bill and Sangeet say, depending on how important they see each trait. But, for the industry to repair its reputation, schools will need to broadly embrace this when screening candidates.

GMAC’s role is less centered on adapting the GMAT assessment to tap into EQ and DQ, but their data can help reveal candidates’ motives for going to business school.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a shift away from the traditional destination industries,” Sangeet says of early screened candidates, “towards social enterprise, technology, manufacturing, and products and services.”

Bill adds that Fuqua School of Business has seen an increase in candidates coming from non-traditional backgrounds. They’re coming from the US Peace Corps, other nonprofits, and even military service.

Then, after graduating, they are transitioning into sectors like financial services. “I’m very happy about putting people into a sector that needs people who can be trusted, and who understand the concept of service,” he says.

Bill explains that he’s also seen many MBA students coming in from private equity, or investment banking, and going out the other side into social enterprise and entrepreneurship.

People entering these jobs with strong EQ and DQ are also giving themselves an added layer of protection in terms of employment. Empathy, morality, and decency are traits that are harder to replicate in robots.

“The reason people are scared of the future is that it seems to be more about replacing humans rather than focusing on the human interface,” says Bill. “What is the human difference; the human values that we retain? We need to harness tech rather than let tech harness us.”

Tech To The Future

Realizing potential is the crux of business school. That is the message that needs to be translated in as human a way as possible—potential and opportunity are not exclusive to the elite.

“We need to effectively tell the story and value of GME broadly,” concludes Sangeet, “so students around the world understand their options.

“It has to be clear that we can build a managerial group of people who can unlock innovation, effectively manage human resources, [and deal with] environmental and ethical concerns—that potential has to be realized!”

Fretting about the future is futile. Adapting to the demands of technology and harnessing its potential to create new jobs, rather than shying away from change, will keep the labor force invigorated.

Bill and Sangeet clearly see the responsibility of GME to ensure the next generation of workers is prepared for that. Business schools need a proactive approach to catch and cultivate human potential before it falls out of the funnel unrefined. Are they up for it? They have to be.

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