Building block degree programs

The third observation I shall mention is one that is not very well developed but I think it has potential for all of us, and when I say all of us I am talking about both the academic side and the organizational side. This is what I refer to as building block degree programs.

Every academic institution has a series of programs on offer. One of the things I wonder about is whether it would make sense for employees to follow a series of programs as they progress in their career? For example, at the age of 25 to 30 employees would undertake the general management program, developed for people taking on a supervisory role for the first time. Five years later they would enrol in a more advanced program for those taking on profit and loss (P&L) responsibility for the first time. This would be followed later by an advanced program for people running larger businesses for the first time. I am sure that building block programs could also be designed for HR professionals, finance professionals and others. Today’s workforce wants an attractive future to aim for. This means that they want a career path that guarantees them personal and professional growth and learning to take forward themselves and their organization.

My other thought is that we should be offering something like a degree to people completing the entire course of study in a particular area. There is also potential here for joint-degree programs. For example, I have noticed on my travels and in meetings with alumni that many INSEAD MBA alumni go on to the Harvard Advanced Management Program, and many of the Harvard MBA alumni take part in the INSEAD Advanced Management Program. Perhaps a dual-degree could be developed for these people. Personal and professional networks are vital for today’s leaders, who are conscious that their assets are even stronger once they are linked to the diverse strengths of others. The reason I say this is that I think it is up to us as academic institutions to develop programs and credentials that will be of the most benefit to our alumni and the organizations for which they work. I think we shall need to be much more proactive in the future to create and disseminate these value propositions.

This kind of continuous learning would also be responsive to one of the issues coming out of the financial crisis: lifelong learning. Today, it is not enough for an individual merely to get an MBA and assume he or she doesn’t need anything more over a long career. I think business schools need to embrace this concept in a more organized way.

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