MBA degrees are frequently criticized for being overrated and for not preparing students adequately to deal with real world challenges. Do South African business schools produce the skills that the leaders of our economy need? Are the available MBA courses relevant to real business?
There are many reasons why South African graduates aspire to an MBA, including better prospects for climbing the corporate ladder, better earning potential, opportunities to work internationally, improved knowledge of business, and the chance to network with like-minded individuals.
Besides teaching management skills, an MBA curriculum should be reflective of current economic conditions, both locally and globally, and influenced by ever-changing business trends. Milpark Business School recently reviewed its MBA curriculum to ensure that the focus of the programme remains firmly rooted in the South African context, with additional focus on global events that influence the stability of the local economy.
“We have focused on the critical skills that would make graduates outstanding performers in the business environment. More importantly, we want to create socially and environmentally conscious leaders, who consider what they can give back as much as the bottom-line,” says Dean at the Management and Leadership Faculty, Dr Cobus Oosthuizen.
“Our MBA is about responsible leadership – the new curriculum includes modules that focus on insight and proficiency in the areas of business ethics, social responsibility, the environment and corporate citizenship.”
In the most recent national PMR.africa survey of accredited business schools in South Africa offering MBA or MBL degrees, Milpark Business School was ranked among the Top Five, a fourth consecutive improvement in ranking. This consistent improvement may be attributed to the fact that Milpark keeps their MBA programme relevant and competitive through ongoing revision of the curriculum in response to changing business needs.
“Milpark’s multidisciplinary MBA teaches students how to lead effectively and to manage change in the business environment, with a strong emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship and global-local thinking,” says Dr Oosthuizen.
The annual Financial Mail MBA analysis was also recently published, summarizing feedback from a number of institutions and their graduates with regards to their MBA programmes. The top two reasons for Milpark graduates undertaking an MBA are ‘business education’ and ‘personal skills advancement’, which is consistent with the overall scores of other business schools.
Another finding is that Milpark graduates regarded the MBA to prepare them most in their ability to think strategically, to solve problems, to conduct effective decision-making and to play a leadership role in their organisation. Graduates reported on both the positive aspects of obtaining an MBA - improved strategic thinking ability, improved general business acumen, increased self-confidence - while acknowledging the negatives, such as little time for socializing and family while studying.
Cobus Oosthuizen says in conclusion: “It is the ongoing responsibility of business schools to carry on finding new ways to influence even more students to contribute positively to society as a whole. As a result, those who pass through their programmes make decisions and behave in ways that reflect responsible leadership.”