Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño is the Dean of IE Business School. Portrayed by the Financial Times as 'one of the most significant figures in promoting European business schools internationally', Iñiguez is an expert in management education. He is also a regular speaker at international conferences and frequently contributes to different academic journals and media on this subject.
Alongside his role as Dean, Iñiguez is a Professor of Strategic Management. He has published several articles and case studies on business management and is the author of several articles and books in the field of moral and political philosophy. Iñiguez spoke with topmba.com editor Ross Geraghty in February 2009. This is part two of the interview.
What do you mean by 'renovating the MBA' as I'd seen you quoted as saying in a Chinese newspaper?
The MBA has experience in many different elements in terms of content. At IE we want to develop well-rounded managers and good citizens. If you want to prepare people to do business in different cultures they need to know what those cultures are about. That's why we introduced modules on humanities. Content is experiencing changes, such as hard skills to soft skills in the past years. Many schools are now introducing new things that don't directly deal with management itself. Most schools have already introduced corporate social responsibility, which now permeates the whole curriculum, not confined to just one given course.
We will experience further content changes, for example the need to reshape finance or relate to strategy to emphasize sustainable advantages; what the meaning of competition is; how companies can cooperate; what are good relations between public and private worlds, given that the public is becoming an active player in the economy again. The content of the MBA is changing all the time.
Additionally, the delivery and the format will experience dramatic shifts. We have introduced blended formats in all programs. In ten years time we expect all our MBAs will do part online and part face-to-face courses.
It requires state of the art technology and this will probably change key elements of the learning process. Professors have, for a long time, been guardians of knowledge and masters of the class and more and more they should become orchestrators of the class and facilitators of knowledge. They can't claim any more that they know everything, that they have access to the latest and most updated information and all the fresh facts. Students come to classes now with the laptops and fresh data - they challenge the professors. So I see the professorial role changing.
No, not diminishing. Many professors, the old guard, stick to teaching the truth about things, but it's actually about facilitating the development of a person. Professors will need to adjust to new technologies, understand that the new generation are able to cope with different things at the same time, have use of time laptops open during classes. It's not that they aren't paying enough respect but are doing different things at the same time.
I suppose the meaning of how you use and adapt to knowledge. Networks and experience are key elements of the MBA and many schools are expanding the online experience of their graduates and alumni. There will be many new social networks on the web and similar phenomena. Also, there are lots of extra-curricular activities around the MBA. How can sport become more important to create a well-rounded person, or the arts or languages?
What are soft skills? Why do you teach them and do you have trouble with people resisting them on the course?
In some Asian markets, particularly China and parts of South East Asia, employers care more for hard skills and are more interested in technology, management technology, marketing or finance rather than from a perspective of leadership or communication skills. This is an evident cultural difference. But I am convinced that we are going towards a conversion here. The program we run with partners in China has strong leadership components. Since business is sometimes different in Chinese or even Japanese culture, it will take time until it permeates into actual practise.
However it is evident that personal skills are key for management success. Communication, teamwork, leadership and diplomatic skills are essential in this world of so many different cultures. If you don't have diplomatic skills then you should forget about running businesses in other countries. Across the board and internationally we need to learn these skills effectively.