Business Schools need to differentiate themselves in how they deliver knowledge, says Professor Amir Sharif.

In a recent FT article, Professor Amir Sharif, acting Head of Brunel Business School, suggests Business Schools don’t leave difference to rankings alone. Why not be innovative through the delivery of management knowledge: academic content, real life employability skills and the right learning processes?

Amir Sharif

Professor Amir Sharif, acting Head of Brunel Business School

To be truly distinctive, business schools need to look at how they deliver management education. As the number of business schools continues to expand globally year-on-year, every incumbent tries to differentiate itself from the crowd.

Far too often this has meant jumping on the next management bandwagon and teaching the latest fad. While this may be important it is hardly innovative or distinctive and is in danger of slowly leading all business schools to become derivatives of one another.

So does differentiation and distinctiveness in the business school market exist? It would be a shame – for student choice and for the evolution of the sector – if differentiation were to boil down to purely a position in the rankings. For many students, proceeding with a management education still equates with improved opportunities for career advancement and the prospect of securing a salary increase. Is this all that differentiates business schools from one another? Currently Moocs, (massive open online courses) private universities, publishers and corporate universities are seen as disrupters of the traditional business education model. However, perhaps the real disrupter and point of differentiation should be the student experience and the delivery of research-led management education.

Business schools not only need to continue to arm their students with the right employability skills, but also with the right learning perspectives to support life-long learning. One step towards this would be for business schools to develop and deliver programmes which incorporate academic and skills-based competency development as a combined body of knowledge. More…

Professor Amir Sharif is Acting Head of Brunel Business School, Brunel University London. @amsharif

An MBA is just as relevant for civil servants says Professor Zahir Irani

For decades an MBA has been the rite of passage for ambitious corporate executives into higher positions of leadership and directorship.  In the following feature from, Professor Zahir Irani, Dean of the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, highlights the benefits and relevance of an MBA to civil servants, too, and the ‘Micro-MBA’ that was birthed during his secondment to the Cabinet Office.

An MBA remains a badge of distinction for private sector managers, and is still seen as rooted in the commercial ethos. But that’s changing. The number of public sector managers undertaking an MBA in the UK doubled last year.

Zahir Irani

Professor Zahir Irani, Dean of the College of Business, Arts & Social Sciences

An MBA works – and is important – for civil servants because it’s generic. It is intended to put in place each of the building blocks needed to run an effective organisation of any kind. It’s also very portable. One of the ongoing debates in business concerns the value of organisations investing in MBAs for their best staff, only to see them using the qualifications as tickets to better-paid jobs elsewhere. But that’s less of a drawback in the civil service, where MBAs are well-suited to the high level of ‘churn’: managers can move to different projects and roles in other departments without those skills being lost to government.

Unlike other development opportunities (access to the excellent civil service online resources, for example), MBAs are structured and formal – so people have to make a commitment of time and energy, with a specific goal. And MBA programmes provide great ready-made networks. The people you study with become a long-term community of support, with a shared experience. In the middle ranks, there’s a real need for this kind of manager community.

An important focus of any MBA programme is leadership – and distinguishing leadership from management.

MBAs don’t provide technical skills, but they build people’s ability to become good leaders. Critically, they provide the opportunity to think about your own style of leadership – not following the model of your boss or the departmental norms, but finding what suits you and is going to be most effective in progressing the government’s agenda. Thinking through how you behave in different situations, and what’s important to you in terms of values, is fundamental to getting your leadership style ‘right’ and clear in your mind.

Another key focus is transformational change, and linking your personal role as manager or leader to the success of implementation. What you do, how you behave during these important – and sometimes difficult – times, has a lasting effect on staff both above and below you. An essential part of an MBA is building up personal resilience to cope with everyday roles; but also, as people take on more seniority and responsibility, dealing with the uncertainties and complexities of the wider environment – economic and budgetary challenges, new threats from international instability and policy reform, etc. More…

Professor Zahir Irani has been working as a senior policy adviser at the Cabinet Office, on secondment from his permanent role as Dean of the Business, Arts and Social Sciences College (CBASS), Brunel University London. @zahirirani1




Brunel Makes Shanghai World University Rankings

GeoffRodgersHard on the heels of Brunel’s impressive rise in the National Student Survey to 25th out of 154 ranked institutions in the UK, the Times Higher is reporting we have made the annual survey compiled by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University for the first time.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Geoff Rodgers said: “It’s yet another small but encouraging sign that we are on the right trajectory.”

Academic Ranking of World Universities 2014 results: Harvard takes first place

Bright Futures provided by the WestFocus group

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Attend our one day workshop to practise and develop enterprise skills

Bright Futures is a FREE one day enterprise skills workshop run by West Focus. It’s a great opportunity for ambitious students wanting to get ahead to develop skills like networking, communication, negotiation and pitching an idea.

Who is it for?

Bright Futures is FREE for students at these universities: Brunel, Kingston, Royal Holloway, Roehampton, Westminster and St Georges with a small charge for students from outside of these universities.

You will benefit from attending no matter what you study; you can be at any level and can be studying part or full time.

Why should I apply? Bright F

Attending Bright Futures will help you;

  • Develop yourself and enterprising spirit
  • Start communicating more effectively
  • Build your networking skills to help you find jobs and support for your ideas
  • Meet like-minded students and successful people

How do I apply?

Application is simple and FREE. You will need to register on Eventbrite