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Appeal for more careers that benefit the world

Many business schools strive for their students to enter high paying corporate jobs to do both retain their prestigious reputation and to achieve higher rankings with various publications. However, Saïd Business School’s dean argues in an article at Bloomberg’s that MBA programmes should also aim to steer students towards futures that benefit the world at large.


Picture: Saïd Business School

In the article Peter Tufano describes a dinner he has had with one of his MBA graduates. The graduate had had a successful career at a leading investment bank but now planned to work for a social enterprise. He writes that while he applauded her passion, he also had to acknowledge that she would damage the school’s standings by heading to the “wrong” destination in rankings terms. “The incentive to place well in rankings can lead deans to exhibit split personalities: praising people who will make a difference, or who are entrepreneurs, but secretly hoping that most will go into careers whose eye-popping salaries at the end of three years will improve the school’s rankings and support future donations.”

Tufano points out how curricula push students towards these higher paid career paths. Strategy courses would teach students which industries and firms will be the most profitable over a long term; “but where do we show students the areas in which business can have the most impact on humanity—the location of social value?” he asks.

Tufano therefore believes that business schools need to alter their views and need to include topics that will fundamentally influence society over the next quarter-century such as falling birth rates and increasing longevity. As a result he has implemented a new course at his Oxford-based business school called Global Opportunities and Threats (GOTO) that examines such mega-trends as demographic change, big data, and water scarcity. “Most 28-year-old MBAs don’t think much about fertility rates, old people, or immigrants,” writes Tufano. “Once they do, ideas start flowing for new forms of housing for the elderly, health-care monitoring for senior citizens, and ways to simplify immigration processes.”

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