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MBA Careers: Hult Reviews Why Management Psychology is The Key to Future Business Success

Ali Fenwick, managerial psychology professor at Hult, says understanding human behavior gives MBAs a competitive edge in their careers

By  Robert Klecha

Thu May 25 2017

Ali Fenwick, an adjunct MBA and Executive MBA professor at Hult International Business School, is utilizing managerial psychology to drive success in businesses globally.

Founder and CEO of LEAD TCM&L, a behavioral insights-driven management consulting and training firm, his work utilizes the latest psychological theories and research into people's behavior to improve business outcomes.

At Hult, Ali is part of a unique faculty of executives, entrepreneurs, and researchers with real business experience – Ali has over 18 years of experience in management consulting in telecoms, consumer goods, and pharma. He teaches managerial psychology to MBA and Executive MBA students at Hult’s campuses in Dubai and Shanghai.

Bringing his real-life work experience into the classroom, Ali is able to give MBA students access to the same cutting-edge research and theory that is driving change in business today.

He thinks that traditional methods of management and customer engagement are no longer viable for success in a changing business world. For MBA grads looking to become business leaders today, soft skills are key.

BusinessBecause caught up with Ali – currently finalizing a PhD in Organizational Psychology – to find out more.

What is Management Psychology?

Success in business relies heavily on leading and influencing others. Even the most technically skilled managers must be able to persuade, motivate, and engage others including direct reports, peers, customers, and executive teams.

The sciences of cognitive and social psychology have produced many reliable findings about the factors that influence attitudes, beliefs, behavior and motivation. On the management psychology course, you gain an understanding of these findings, and develop an ability to apply them.

Based on a strong scientific foundation, we teach skills in persuading others, portraying confidence, gaining trust, changing group behavior, influencing organizational culture, and manipulating attitudes, motivation and even performance levels in your people. That’s management psychology!

How does your work at LEAD TCM&L feed into your MBA and EMBA classes at Hult?

The science of human behavior is fascinating. Through the various behavioral experiments we conduct at LEAD TCM&L or with our clients, we learn so much about why and how people behave in certain situations.

In today’s dynamic and ever-changing environment, you can’t predict how people will behave based purely on past knowledge or experiences. The rate of change sometimes outpaces the rate of learning and we can’t rely too much on what has worked before.

So, besides teaching about the latest insights and psychological tools in class, I try to instill an experimental mindset in the students I work with. Having an experimental mindset is a tool for life and helps people stay relevant, allowing to always test one’s assumptions and be willing to try new things.

How important are soft skills in today’s business world?

Very important, soft skills deliver hard results! Soft skills such as your ability to influence others, communicate effectively, cultural and emotional intelligence, the ability to understand self and others, are no longer a nice to have.

Research has shown that soft skills are contingent with organizational success and are more important than technical skills alone in helping you work effectively with others and landing that next promotion or job.

Even in the tech savvy start-up environment, soft skills are necessary to work successfully with others, to understand your target markets needs and also to convince potential investors to invest in your solution.

How do you see the millennial and centennial generations affecting management styles?

Today’s management styles still have a lot of residue from the Baby Boomer’s management style, with command and control as a major assumption of what management should be. However, gone are the days that people will be told what to do, and with less loyalty in and towards organizations, millennials and centennials especially, are growing up being more pragmatic, individualistic and outgoing than previous generations.

If talent is contingent with sustained competitive advantage, then management styles in organizations will have to adapt to accommodate future learning and working styles not to lose the game. As organizations and business schools, we have develop an experimental mindset to be observant to changes and to act upon these changes if we want to remain relevant today and in the future.

How did you come to be a professor at Hult?

Starting as a business expert and later evolving into an academic, I believe that tomorrow’s problems will need to be solved in a multi-disciplinary way involving both science and practice.

During my PhD, I was fortunate to meet up with faculty at Hult and saw an instantaneous fit with my personal take on future business education. It was an instant click and for the past four years I have been able to work with amazing people to develop and provide relevant education and training in business psychology, organizational behavior and management skills to MBA and EMBA students.

At Hult, we’re creating a 21st century mindset, by far the most competitive skillset to have in 21st century business. I feel incredibly proud to play a role in this development.