What I read: Interesting MBA-related articles (Week Ending 2/15/2015)


Article 1: MBA students embrace new curriculum, now in place at Johnson at Cornell University

Cornell (Johnson) recently implemented a new core curriculum, aimed to ensure its students keep up with the ever changing landscape of business. While many aspects of the curriculum stayed the same, leadership, data analysis and modeling, critical thinking and technology were the key foundations around the changes that were made. The emphasis on modeling and data analytics seems to go hand in hand with their increasing focus on technology, as their new data courses will go beyond what traditionally is statistics and into topics like big data.


From my experience, many “data analytics” classes in the MBA program right now are Statistics 1.0, 2.0, and maybe 2.5. I fully recognize this is still early innings for analytics and big data, so I’m optimistic that Johnson’s class will actually cover concepts, strategies and tactics of big data that are net new.


Article 2: Beware the navel-gazing leader

So the title is a bit of click-bait, but the writer of this op-ed talks about the ever-increasing emphasis on “personal development” and “self-awareness” as a part of leadership education and how it’s potentially limiting important learning that students actually need to become better leaders. The author, a professor at INSEAD criticizes the way schools are teaching leadership, and suggests that limiting leadership to “personal development” and “growth” is a narrow definition of leadership, and focuses so much on the individual that it totally forgets the collective effort of the team.


The author postulates that while folks like Daniel Goleman continue to promote things like emotional intelligence, all studies to date have found little evidence that its impact is greatly exaggerated. The article gets a little “ivory-tower” for my liking at times but the author raises some valid points. Many schools (mine-included) place a significant emphasis on “knowing yourself” and finding out your goals, values, purpose, etc. My personal opinion is that these two ends of the spectrum are not mutually exclusive – you can do personal development but also think within the context of the greater organization.

Article 3: A historic gathering of female B-School Deans tackles Gender Inequality

There are not a lot of women in business school. However, there are some very accomplished women leading Top MBA Programs around the world. Last week, 10 of these MBA Program Deans met at UCLA Anderson to discuss how they can bring more women into business schools as students, faculty members, and deans.


Women make up about 35% of the MBA student population, hold 43% of senior and middle management positions in the US but fewer than 5% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. Since many MBA programs are pipelines for these positions the Deans of these respective schools believe that focusing on developing more junior faculty, recruiting more women into business in high school and college and focusing on potential target areas such as former college athletes and STEM can help reverse these numbers.