In this exclusive interview, Dr. Andy Lockett, Dean and Professor at the Warwick Business School (WBS), talks about a few burning questions about the new normal for the MBA space in the post COVID world, and WBS’s program highlights, USPs, along with tips/suggestions for MBA/WBS/Study Abroad aspirants.
- It has been more than 10 years of your association with WBS. How has your journey been so far?
It has been an incredible journey and one I look back on with pride. WBS has grown substantially since I arrived. We successfully opened a London base at The Shard, which due to high demand was subsequently extended to another floor, demonstrating the ambition of the school.
We have also grown our Warwick campus with a £30 million extension. Demand for our MBA has surged in recent years, with the Full-time MBA now double-streamed and we are considering another extension to cater for both MBAs and our growing Executive Education portfolio.
Our programmes have climbed the rankings over the last five years with our Distance Learning MBA now number one in the world according to the Financial Times and The Economist has ranked our Full-time MBA the best in the UK six years in a row.
It has also been a privilege to work with so many talented academics who conduct pioneering research across all areas of the school. Our research has real-world impact as well, across a diverse range of sectors, including healthcare, energy, finance and technology. Also, we have become leaders in data science thanks to our Data Science Lab and have launched the Gillmore Centre for Financial Technology thanks to a £3 million donation.
- What have been your key priorities since you took over as the Dean – WBS?
A key priority is to continue expanding our education offering for executives. We see this as a growing market which is needed more than ever as organisations look to navigate increasingly volatile environments. The Shard expansion is principally to accommodate increasing executive demand for our Executive MBA, Doctor of Business Administrative (DBA) and Executive Education courses.
We have launched a suite of Executive Diplomas including Strategy and Innovation, Leadership Development, Organisational Change and Digital Leadership, and a DBA where executives can take a part-time PhD-style course based on the practical application of research.
We have invested heavily in reshaping our Executive MBA to become more attractive to employers as well as employees. Options now include both weekend and evening versions to limit time out of work for our executives.
Another priority has been to maximise the impact of our pioneering research. Our impact transcends sectors and all forms of organisations, private, public and third sector. Furthermore, our impact can be seen at the local, national and global level, and even beyond global with Professor Loizos Heracleous’ impactful work with NASA.
- You’ve won numerous accolades for your innovative approach to teaching. Are there any pedagogical changes implemented by you post the COVID breakout?
At Warwick Business School we are fortunate in already having a world-leading online teaching platform (my.wbs) thanks to our Distance Learning MBA.
Moving all our teaching online for the final term involved training significant numbers of staff at short notice. We already had a substantial teaching and learning team to support our Distance Learning MBA, which served as a strong core for the enlarged section and to undertake much of the training. Staff have been extraordinarily creative in their approach to virtual learning and well supported by teaching and learning experts.
It has also been gratifying to see students and staff helping their community during the pandemic. We have had MBA students set up online lectures to help medics around the world cope with the added pressures and complexity brought by the pandemic. Some of our students have set up a volunteering exchange website so the vulnerable and elderly can find help, and one of our academics, an ex-nurse, went back to the frontline to help the NHS cope with the influx of critically ill people.
- How are you cultivating a curriculum suitable for higher employability for your graduates?
The CareersPlus team supports all our MBA students during their course and after they have graduated. It delivers personal support and advice as well as online workshops and lectures for personal development and career enhancement.
Students have access to career consultations and executive coaching. And our Distance Learning MBA students have access to careers workshops as part of our Careers Festival, held during the two residential weeks, sharing the latest thinking on career management, and covering a range of topics from career transition to negotiation skills.
The skills webinars cover topics such as Salary Negotiation, Assertiveness Skills, Managing Workplace Politics and The 2-Hour Job Search. There are many other online resources such as job postings, career management modules, 360-degree online feedback, CV preparation platform and expert insights from industry speakers.
Our CareersPlus department was rated the best in the UK and third in Europe by The Economist in its Full-time MBA ranking, so it is obviously being a real help for students. MBA students also have access to one-to-one coaching, attend career workshops, and gain networking opportunities with companies like Google, Jaguar Land Rover and JP Morgan.
- What are the USPs of your programs?
Our Distance Learning MBA is one of the few online courses on the market led by faculty from the school, which helps students greatly and ensures high quality teaching informed by cutting edge research.
Unlike many other schools our Distance Learning MBA does not differ from the Full-time and Executive MBA in terms of its curriculum, so part-time students cover the same subjects in equal depth. They all achieve the same Warwick MBA designation on their graduation certificate, irrespective of the mode of study.
Our learning platform my.wbs is also unique. Designed by our eSolutions team, it provides a virtual classroom for our students where we run lectures, knowledge groups, online case studies and rich interactive learning resources.
The MBA programmes have many strengths, in particular developing leadership capabilities, strategic thinking and an entrepreneurial mind-set are key features which attract many students.”
- What tips/suggestions would you like to give to MBA/WBS aspirants from Asia?
We are looking for driven individuals who will add their own unique perspective to create a diverse cohort in terms of cultures, professions, sectors and experience.
Candidates must have at least four years’ managerial work experience and we are seeking evidence of consistent progression, this may include people management, budgetary or project management responsibilities.
They must have an upper second class honours at undergraduate level from a UK university or the equivalent from an overseas university. However, we also welcome applications from candidates who do not have the academic qualifications but are exceptional, with a proven ability to achieve.
One way of assessing what it takes to successfully apply for an MBA at WBS is to get in contact with alumni through LinkedIn. Alumni are surprisingly approachable and happy to pass on their advice and tips.
We have alumni groups across the globe and there are also alumni networks specific to a profession or industry, for example, at we have a technology network and a finance network, and there is also a women’s network.
- Finally, what would you want this generation to learn from the COVID pandemic?
This has been a challenging time for all MBA students but there are positives they can take from this time.
One is utilising online communication and leading a team over the internet, which has become increasingly important during the global pandemic. Indeed, this may well have accelerated a new way of working that is less reliant on offices.
Many of our MBAs have come together to help society and use their education to help spread knowledge through online webinars for workers in healthcare or helped out the local foodbank as families struggle to cope during the lockdown. This demonstrates their drive to help, ambition, organisational capabilities and desire to be problem-solvers – assets any organisation would be looking for.”
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