I see a growing interest in CSR and Brand Management: Dr. Camara, Director, SBS
Southampton Business School - While the United Kingdom is the central point to study subjects ranging from humanities to literature, it is management that has been drawing the maximum number of students to its shores in recent times. One of the highlights of the country’s MBA programme is its one-year structure which is advantageous for many students who not only want to explore the job sector but also want the management course to be light on their pockets.
The Southampton Business School (SBS) is one of the leading institutes in UK offering management programmes. In this interview with Careers360, Dr Nuno Da Camara, Director of MBA, Southampton Business School, shares his insights on the emerging trends in management studies and the importance of cultural assimilation to get the best out of your MBA programme.
Below are the edited excerpts:
Q. Can you highlight some of the emerging trends in management studies? Which are the popular courses among international students?
A. I can really only speak for the fields that I teach in, which are organizational behavior and human resource management, as we have a range of very different subject areas within Southampton Business School. So, I see a growing interest in areas like corporate social responsibility, marketing and brand management, international management and human resources.
I think these emerging trends reflect the impact of globalization, as international students are highly aware of the growing power of multinationals in the global economy and also the opportunities that any company has to grow outside its domestic market. The interest in marketing is borne out of the success of global brands and international marketing, as well, and in particular reflects an interest in the marketing of high-value goods and services, especially where service quality if important, rather than commoditised, low-end value goods and services. The interest in HR is less obvious than the others, but in my view is related to the evolution of economies beyond largely agricultural and industrial activities to service and knowledge related businesses. The growing interest in CSR is clearly linked to the issues of sustainability faced by our planet, not just environmental but social and economic, and is a welcome trend, of course, because business was strongly dominated by the Friedmanite view (that its sole purpose is to make profit) for the majority of the twentieth century.
Q. What according to you are the factors that a student should consider before embarking in management studies? Please share your own experience with us.
A. For me the main thing to consider is the language skills that students will have when they start their course. It is important, for example, that students get some exposure to British English before coming to the UK, and watching or listening to the BBC is one of the best ways to do this. Another good idea would be to read about the UK or get immersed in British culture before coming over as this will increase the understanding of the country. One good way to do this is to read about things that specifically interest you, so if an Indian student like cricket then this reading about British cricket or listening to commentaries of UK matches is a very good way to acclimatise to British language and culture.
Even more important but perhaps more difficult to prepare for is the cultural assimilation and adaptation to the UK classroom and educational style. The UK has, like the USA, a very individualistic culture, which generally values the voice and opinion of the individual and encourages active debate between individuals in group settings such as the classroom. It is very common for students to ask questions and in many cases to challenge teachers directly in the classroom. This is especially the case at university where the whole point of learning is not to simply accept the view of one person, i.e., the teacher, but to learn the reflective and analytical skills to assess knowledge in a critical way. So, it's not what you believe or think, it is how you argue it that counts, really. These are absolutely central features of the UK education system and international students often have to make a large leap in their expectations and habits to adapt to this new environment.
And, also, it is important to bring some warm clothes for the long winter! After all, when you are cold, your mind freezes and closes down, and then you don't learn anything!
Q. What kind of research avenues can one explore in this field?
A. There are many opportunities for research at SBS, in a wide range of management subjects (e.g. HR and organizational behavior, marketing, finance, accounting, risk management, management and decision science, strategy, project management, operations management, international business, innovation etc.). For the MBA, research is normal undertaken as part of the dissertation / final project, in which each student works with a supervisor in his/her chosen area.
Q. How important is work experience in the selection process? What is the average work experience accepted at Southampton?
A. Work experience is essential to the MBA as the course if designed to develop management and leadership skills and requires students to reflect on their previous experience; as well as practising the application of new skills via case studies, simulated work environments and ‘live’ projects. In many cases, work experience can outweigh the impact of academic grades, because it so vital to the learning process a this level. However, the course still requires a very high level of academic skills and many hours of reading and preparation of assignments and so on. So, it is appropriate for people who wish to deepen their knowledge of management in the academic as well as practical sense. The average work experience of our MBA students is actually 6 years after graduation, although the minimum for entry is 3 years.
Q. What are the admission requirements for international students?
A. We follow the criteria set by AMBA, which is our accreditation body, so the admission requirement for international students is a minimum of 3 years relevant work experience and a second class honours degree (or the equivalent professional qualification). Relevant experience means that it must contain some managerial or supervisory content. The work experience must also be obtained after graduation and be of a graduate level with suitable levels of analysis, decision-making, interpersonal relations, teamwork and client contact.
Q. Do you offer engineering management? If so, tell us about the programme structure at Southampton? Is it more impactful for engineering students then the traditional MBA?
A. We do not offer a specialised MBA for engineering. Our MBA programme is a generalist programme and therefore highly appropriate to engineers as well as many other technical professions. We believe that the opportunity for cross-fertilisation of learning between different professions and sectors in a generalist MBA is a highly valuable part of the qualification. In fact, our students regularly comment that this is one of the highlights of the course. In the UK, the MBA is usually a generalist degree, in line with the historical tradition. The MBA was originally designed to prepare technical experts for management and leadership positions in business
Stay tuned to www.studyabroad.careers360.com for more news and updates on MBA abroad