The MBA Directors Forum: Insights for our Students and Alumni

Last modified 06 March 2024
MBA, News, The AIB Network
The MBA Directors Forum: Insights for our Students and Alumni

In late May, AIB Chief Operating Officer Jo Thomas and our Academic Dean Professor Ingrid Day spent two days with fellow heads of Australia’s top business schools at the 2019 MBA Directors Forum in Melbourne. Following the event, Jo reflected on the top trending topics being discussed among business schools and the value of the MBA qualification today.

Conferences can be boring, we all know that. Ill prepared speakers, terrible coffee and awkward networking events. Not this conference though (even the coffee was ok!).

With speakers from fairly impressive places like Harvard, the Reserve Bank, Bunnings and Salesforce, the topics were many and varied – from the impact of the drought on the Economy to how experiential learning is transforming the way adults learn and retain complex information. Most importantly though, we focused on how critical it is to make sure an MBA is relevant, has impact and gives you the right experience to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

So, without further ado, here are my top insights for you, our students and alumni:

  1. Leadership can’t be automated: It sounds obvious, but in a not too distant world where machines will be able to automate up to 30% of many jobs, “human” skills (I shy away from calling them “soft” skills as there’s nothing soft about them!) will become the currency of success. The leaders of tomorrow will be able to solve complex problems, display significant influencing capabilities and be comfortable making decisions in a fast evolving and diverse world. So, if you don’t want to be replaced by a robot, your MBA is a perfect way to develop those generalist leadership skills that employers are looking for.
  2. Blend learning and doing: An MBA is how you DO management. Essentially, this means that the best way to get value from your MBA is to apply the lessons from the theory into your work. I don’t want to brag but this isn’t new information to us at AIB (or to you!), but this concept is now picking up pace globally. An MBA is a significant investment of both time and money, so getting value out of it at work, while still studying not only accelerates your return on investment but also makes sure the concepts stick.  Employers, in particular, are now valuing MBAs that combine education with real world experience more highly than the traditional approach.
  3. Embrace lifelong learning: Being willing to try new things and rapidly pivot in response to change is no longer the sole domain of entrepreneurs. Managers of all levels need to embrace continuous learning and be open to new ideas, approaches and techniques from a multitude of sources. Innovation and learning go hand in hand and the ideas of yesterday will often need adapting to be relevant to the problems of tomorrow.

I hope that those insights are useful – but remember that the value of an idea is in its action and it is only through action that we are able to maximise our impact and our success. What action will you take today?

This was written by Jo Thomas, Chief Operating Officer of the Australian Institute of Business. 

Jo Thomas
As AIB CEO, Jo has almost 20 years’ experience in senior operations and has held multiple c-suite positions at some of Australia’s most iconic companies including iSelect and Compare The Market. Jo’s academic qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in communications, complemented by an MBA completed in 2010. Connect with Jo on LinkedIn

*The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. Available at: MBA News.

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