Is a good business education key to growing our future leaders? - Preparing you for the future of work.

Is a good business education key to growing our future leaders?

Good education design key to growing our future leaders. Educating our future leaders on shared value creation and the shared economy is key to our success.

Most people think educating people is easy, but it is one of the most challenging areas to succeed in. To design learning that is useful, has real outputs and helps people grow and learn, requires enormous imagination and is a very detailed and complex process.

In its deepest sense, education is about transforming and moulding minds rather than just imparting knowledge. It’s about getting minds to forge new pathways to creativity, innovation and understanding.

In the context of business, a good education shouldn’t just create efficiencies, but should enable the capability to grow new types of businesses and developing new sources of value.

It is important to reflect on the role business schools are playing in developing countries. There is this idea that if you go and get an MBA you become part of a global elite – that an MBA from a business school somehow endows you with magical powers to run businesses at senior level, create global consortia and get involved in mega projects. I don’t share that view. It’s great to learn those very high corporate capability skills, but a lot of those skills come with experience and years of hard work.

Business schools should not be about creating elitist positions, but rather about giving people the skills to build their own businesses and build better organisations, especially in developing economies. And if it’s about that, should business schools not be doing that for a lot of people, rather than just a few?

I believe these schools need to create models of learning that are accessible and affordable to more people so that business skills can be more widely shared. While there is a place for high level programmes, if more people can gain access to quality business skills, their business ventures will be better run and have a greater chance of succeeding. By creating better organisations, we can grow the economy, create employment and offer hope to future generations.

Business schools also need to evolve to prepare the business leaders of tomorrow. Historically business has been solely focused on making profits and increasing shareholder value. In today’s environment this just does not cut it anymore. There has to be an emphasis on shared value creation and the shared value economy. We must prepare people to create businesses that are more community minded and environmentally conscious, where value is created for employees and their communities, and where employees understand the business imperative to contribute to society.

We see the transformation that happens when the companies we work with place their executives into an NGO context. These executives quickly come to realise that work has meaning beyond just making profits and actually needs to contribute to the growth and development of society and make a difference.

Governments in developing countries rarely have the funds to create the quality education, housing and health facilities they’d like to. Our job in business must be to assist with such development through private sector solutions and by providing executive and managerial skills and skills transfer to the public sector so that public sector projects can run well and contribute to economic growth.

Jonathan Foster-Pedley is the Dean and Director of Henley Business School Africa.


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