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Is The MBA Due A Refresh? This Business School Thinks So

With its ‘Technovate’ curriculum, nano-MBA, and on-demand Netflix-style learning, GLOBIS is blazing a trail in business school innovation. Hear from its founder


Tue Mar 5 2024

Online MBAs have mushroomed in the wake of Covid. But back in 2020, when the pandemic struck, GLOBIS University’s Online MBA Program had already been in place for five years.

As well as laying claim to Asia’s first Online MBA, the Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University, offers an accelerated one-year, in-person Full-time MBA, at its Tokyo HQ, and a hybrid Part-time MBA.

The school has furthered its reputation for disruptive education with two intriguing MBA offerings: the nano-MBA, which lasts just six weeks and teaches the basic business fundamentals, and GLOBIS Unlimited, an e-learning platform subscription-based model of video courses in business frameworks, concepts and trends.

To find out more about how GLOBIS is transforming the MBA landscape, BusinessBecause spoke to its founder and president, Yoshito Hori.

27453b7295eb468c966916d2590ce9d4d34c5e84.jpg Japan's most popular MBA

When he graduated from Harvard Business School, Yoshito Hori (pictured) was so enamored by his MBA program that he wanted to replicate its case method style of teaching business and management in his native Japan.

He opened GLOBIS in 1992 with just $8,000 initial capital investment and offering one course—in marketing.

The business school has since gone on to become the country’s largest, in terms of enrollment. In 2022, 1254 students were enrolled in its MBA programs, up from 78 in 2006 when GLOBIS first gained university status.

It is also at the forefront of reinventing the MBA.

“We want to create a new business model for the business school,” says Hori. “We try to be totally different from other business schools in the way that we exist and the way that we communicate.”

A startup mentality is the beating heart of GLOBIS. Four years after opening the business school, Hori established Globis Capital Partners, a private venture capital firm. It’s now one of the largest independent venture capital firms in Japan, and has invested around $1.3 billion in more than 100 companies to date.

“Having invested in many technology companies through our VC, we could see that AI and technology are changing the way companies compete,” says Hori. 

“In traditional businesses, not only the champion and the runner up but the third and fourth players can have a place in the market. But with the internet and AI, it is becoming a ‘winner-takes-all' kind of climate, and we believe that while future business leaders may not necessarily have to be programers or have the analytical skills of data analysts, they need to be able to discuss strategic issues with programers and data analysts.”

To describe this element of the MBA program, GLOBIS has even invented and trademarked a new term—‘Technovate’—a combination of technology and innovate.

Putting technology and innovation into the curriculum

Technovate courses teach students about emerging technologies and how to use these to innovate in business. Example courses include Design Thinking and User Experience, Leading Big Data Strategy, Digital Marketing Psychology, Emotion-driven Innovation, and Robotics and AI Business Innovation.

As well as this focus on technology, the GLOBIS MBA covers all the fundamentals required to achieve the coveted qualification. Courses cover areas such as Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Marketing and Strategy, and Accounting and Finance. 

Students also study Critical and Analytical skills, Management Philosophy and Entrepreneurial Leadership—as well selecting numerous electives, including some specific Japanese leadership topics such as ‘Keiei Dojo’, which focuses on ‘human skills’ and how to understand and influence others.

GLOBIS MBA classes are taught by a faculty of business practitioners, not academics—many of whom are international, or have international business experience.

Hori emphasizes that b-school can be a journey of self-discovery, just as his own was. GLOBIS students are encouraged to define their ‘kokorozashi’ or personal mission while at the school. 

“In order to become a successful business leader, you need to have a vision or mission,” he says. “If you find out what yours is and how you want to use your life, you can aim to accomplish this during your lifetime.”

Tying in with Hori’s own mission “to educate students to become visionary leaders who create innovative societies”, GLOBIS now has seven campuses across Japan as well as a Pre-MBA offering campus in San Francisco. 

New MBA models

The GLOBIS Pre-MBA is a 12-week course which allows students to take a number of MBA modules, with credits transferable onto the MBA program. This allows students to either take specific courses to upskill around their job, or to experience the GLOBIS MBA before deciding to enroll in the full program.

Another option to experience a taste of GLOBIS before (or without) committing to a full MBA is the nano-MBA, a six-week course that offers a 0.5 MBA credit and covers the fundamentals of the MBA. 

During the program, students can use GLOBIS’s AI Chat Learning tool (GAiChaL) to practice applying what they’ve learned in hypothetical business situations and gain immediate feedback. The use of AI for teaching is also fundamental to GLOBIS’s Unlimited MBA model, which allows a subscription to unlimited access to around 1350 different e-learning videos. Hori says that 300,000 people are currently paid subscribers to the $20-a-month service, which is delivered in English and Japanese.

For Hori, the evolving model of programs on offer at GLOBIS is a response to the agile business world.

“I used to use Harvard or Stanford as our benchmark but now I believe that we need to match the business school to the quickly advancing technological environment of the business world,” he concludes.