Meet The Team: University Of Exeter Business School — UK

One Planet MBA focuses on economic, social, environmental and tech disruptions

Exeter’s is a business school uniquely focused on the extent to which economic, social, environmental and technological disruptors are reshaping the role of the professional manager and the expectations placed on business.

The One Planet MBA assesses new business models built on principles such as those of the sharing economy, and shifts in global economic and political power, climate change and resource scarcity, population growth, urbanization in emerging economies, and technological innovation.

A newly repositioned curriculum has been jointly delivered by senior business leaders from IBM, Thomson Reuters, EY and Accenture among others.

Applicants must have a good first degree and a minimum of three years’ managerial experience, among other requirements, says Emma Birch, senior student and education services assistant, in this interview with BB.

Although Exeter does not require GMAT, applicants with a GMAT score of 650 and above will automatically be awarded an Academic Excellence Scholarship to contribute towards the tuition fees for the programme, in addition to the early bird discount offered to early applicants.

The class of 2014/15 has 44 full-time and executive MBA students, with average work experience of nine years, aged 32 on average, and representing 14 countries.

What qualities, skills, and previous experiences do you look for in MBA applicants?

The most important thing we look for in applicants first is work experience — they have got to have good managerial experience.

We invite them to interview and at that point I look to see some differentiation. Most people want to progress in their careers. We want them to be able to express that in an enthusiastic and understandable way. Some people when you interview them perhaps you can feel they are reading from their statement.

We’re looking for people with drive and ambition who want to improve their career.

Do you look at leadership or global experience?

There should hopefully be some sort of leadership — either project management or managing some budgets or projects.

The students learn a lot from other students on the MBA, and benefit from each other’s experience.

How can applicants stand out?

One of the things that really stands out is the questions they ask me. I am deliberately vague in interviews. If they can show me that they have researched the university, and have a clear understanding of where they want to go, [they stand out].

And also they should ask questions about specific modules or ways of teaching or the cohort — it shows they are actively considering their options.

Does the business school’s focus on innovation/new business models set it apart from the crowd?

I think it does. It’s a future-proofing of the program. We live in a different world now, with new types of organisations competing against established players through the use of very innovative business models.

Looking at emerging business models is interesting to applicants at the moment. Quite a lot want to be entrepreneurs, consultants and "intra-preneurs” with the desire to contribute their innovative business thinking to enable their employer to remain relevant in a changing world and innovate their own business model. And having that knowledge is going to give them a competitive advantage in a changing marketplace.

You’ve been growing your international student base. What do they bring to the MBA?

Our class is very international. In terms of what they bring, it’s a cultural difference — people in different nationalities particularly if you’re looking at Africa or South America and Asia work very differently.

If we have an international class and they want to go into an international business they have the advantage of knowing how different cultures and nationalities work. I think it’s great from a social point of view too.

You have a relatively small but experienced cohort size. How does this impact learning?

It enhances learning; the smaller the class size the more the students can interact with each other, academics and guest speakers. 

Having the small class size is an advantage because they know each other better and it makes it a more experiential and individual learning experience.

We have quite a strong network; we do alumni events so also alumni feel they are involved. It’s good to keep that network going.

Is it important that you develop leaders who can have an impact on society?

It's essentially embedded in the program. It’s something we believe all businesses should be looking at. We think that if businesses are going to be profitable in future, they should be sustainable.

Hopefully the students will go away with that mind-set and it makes them look at business from a slightly more sustainable way, to keep it going in the future — using their education to address the challenges of climate change and population growth, for example.

What links does the school have to corporations?

EY and IBM will come in this year and do some training of students, helping them transition into management consulting. We have quite a lot of good corporate partners that students do projects with — anything from sustainable tourism or marketing or HR, whatever area they want to go into, they can do projects with our partners. We have [partnerships with] IBM, SAP, Lloyds Banking Group, Thomson Reuters, and Coca-Cola. Students go into all sorts of areas afterwards and join small and large corporations or create their own startup.

What support is there for students interested in entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship used to be an elective module on the MBA, but because our focus is on developing an entrepreneurial mindset, whether our participants create their own business or become intra-preneurs we have now developed a core module that is all about the entrepreneurial mindset.

For those wishing to develop their own business, we have an enhanced Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation module for them, and we work closely with SETSquared, based on campus – it is Europe’s top university incubator for the third year running! This partnership helps our MBA participants get their business plans off the ground.

What are the key benefits of the Exeter location?

Exeter is a great place to be – the business school is campus based, which differentiates it; our campus is the prettiest university campus in the UK. Exeter is a student-friendly city, and probably the safest one for international students - they voted Exeter top for international student experience last year! Yet, Exeter is well connected to London, which is only 2 hours away.

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