“You can’t think about how an organization operates today without thinking of a technological application,” says professor John Jacobs, executive director of the Center for Financial Markets and Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (pictured below, right).
Indeed, nearly half (45%) of businesses believe their industry will be disrupted by emerging technology—like artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain—in a major way over the next few years.
John has experienced his fair share of tech disruption during his career. He worked for NASDAQ (a fintech leader for electronic stock-exchange markets) for 30 years before joining McDonough.
An MBA, he explains, is about understanding the different aspects of business, whether it be marketing, finance or HR. And so, all MBA students need to graduate with an understanding of the implications of technological disruption across those areas.
How do MBA students learn about technology?
At McDonough, MBAs learn about trending tech topics in multiple ways.
Georgetown was recently ranked sixth in CoinDesk’s list of Blockchain universities and John began teaching a fintech elective at McDonough last year, with half of his class last term exploring the use of blockchain in NGOs and social-impact initiatives.
Meanwhile, the DC Blockchain Summit attracts 500 attendees across different industries to McDonough each spring, and IBM and mortgage loan firm Fannie Mae help to host hackathons where students access real company data. Bringing tech leaders onto campus is how many students are recruited for post-MBA jobs.
Virtual reality is also something the school is getting excited about. It’s a prime experiential education tool to develop skills in negotiation and decision making while providing MBAs with the ideal environment in which to learn from mistakes.
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business recently produced a VR trailer inspired by the book ‘Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy’ by vice dean and professor Pietra Rivolli, which took participants to a Texan cotton field, providing insight into global supply chains. “VR is brilliant for information retention because the things we experience we remember much better,” Adam Hahn, director of development and innovation at the school (pictured below, right) explains.
In the buzzing big data sphere, McDonough launched an MBA Certificate in Consumer Analytics and Insights last year in response to growing demand across all industries for professionals who can engage with consumer data to problem-solve.
The certificate builds on core MBA coursework through a series of courses, analytics projects, and events allowing students to engage with industry experts. On graduation, MBA students gain a notation on their qualification highlighting the achievement—something that will help set them apart in the jobs market.
Big data initiatives also come from MBA students themselves. McDonough MBA students can improve their data interpretation skills through student-run clubs like HoyAlytics (whose popularity inspired McDonough to launch the analytics certificate). Co-founded by Kenny Tan, now associate director of data analytics for the school’s graduate programs, it focuses on networking, recruiting and tutoring in data analytics.
It was Kenny’s love of numbers that made him pursue an MBA at McDonough, moving away from his research background with a view to building a career in business analytics. “It’s a collaborative, not competitive, community,” he says of the McDonough MBA experience.
This, he says, feeds creativity and innovation. “The basis of computer programming is collaborative so it makes sense that McDonough is too,” he smiles.
What are the career benefits for MBAs?
Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business’ focus on tech translates into a strength in careers. The tech sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the US, with 1.5 million new jobs created between 2010 and 2017.
In a record year for MBA hires, 17.5% of McDonough’s 2018 class went into technology, earning an average base salary of over $116,000. Some of the biggest tech recruiters who hire MBAs from the school include Gallup, an analytics management consultancy firm, and the science and innovation company Danaher.
Outside the tech industry itself, Deloitte is one of the largest recruiters of McDonough MBAs. Adam explains that many of their projects are data-driven and that they actively look for students who are data literate and understand how the shifting technology landscape affects business. Hence why they recruit so heavily from McDonough.
Kenny also identifies consultancy as a big career destination for tech-savvy MBAs because of its focus on big data. “Everything out there is being collected and quantified to find insights to target segments,” he emphasizes, “this is becoming increasingly relevant to consultancy because it’s based on problem-solving.”
Kenny explains that because everything is data-driven, having the skills to understand what hard numbers mean for a company puts you ahead. “When you talk intelligently about data issues and applications interviewers prick up their ears because it’s a valuable skill that they’re all after,” he says.