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Bashing the MBA Bashers

Alright, enough with all the folks out there who are constantly bashing the MBA.  “Too many, pay isn’t good, companies don’t need, want, appreciate, etc. MBAs…”  A quality program, done right, that is a good fit for an individual student is still a good solid career investment.  At the University at Buffalo full-time MBA program we are in the middle of our January MBA Advantage sessions.  We have had corporate recruiters, alumni and friends of the program talking with our first year students and indicating how much their companies value our MBAs.  Last Monday night our award winning Career Resources Center sponsored Network New York where a host of alumni, corporate recruiters and friends met with students to network and discuss the potential for internships and jobs, among other things.  They want our graduates for the future of their organizations.

Companies are still hiring MBAs.  A GMAC survey recently found that, after a much improved 2012 hiring cycle, companies indicated plans to increase MBA hiring for 2013.  Why would companies want to hire MBAs?  Because the quality MBA programs add significant value to graduates’ personal skill sets (both hard and soft skills) and companies need these skills to help advance their agendas.  True, as some articles have stated, there are probably too many second rate programs that have popped up in the last decade that have somewhat tainted the MBA reputation.  But, if you pick a good quality, good value MBA program, the returns are still going to be there.  I would make the case that the UB MBA program is one of those high value programs – for students and employers.

The MBA is alive and well.  It is not going away because organizations around the world need an infusion of fresh MBA talent to keep them dynamic.  So, bashers, find something more relevant to write about than the death of the MBA that isn’t going to happen!

Dave Frasier, Assistant Dean

 

I have been very negligent in posting to this blog – but today I ran across an editorial in Bloomberg Businessweek that motivated me to log in and post.  I suppose that when you find material that echos sentiments you have held for some time you are more likely to take note and cheer.  I’m going to stay away from the current BIG political contest – you can check out my personal Facebook account if you are interested in my views on that issue.  However, one of the central issues of the election is the economy and jobs.  There are many prognosticators who say we should save “American” jobs for Americans.  The trouble with that view is the fact that we have a lot of jobs sitting vacant for lack of qualified Americans to fill them.  While we have high unemployment (any way you try to parse the numbers) we have millions of positions that our companies can’t fill.  There is a long and complex discussion about education and skill training that we could jump into here, as well as one about the motivation of our own citizens.  Long story short – I strongly believe that we need to radically revamp our immigration rules to encourage international students graduating from our programs to stay here and contribute to our economic growth.  Rather than stealing jobs from Americans they bring skills and a work ethic that can significantly contribute to an economic rebound in the U.S. that will have a multiplier effect of creating more jobs for natural-born Americans.  My grandparents were immigrants and were some of the hardest working people I know – they helped build America into what it is today.

I have many bright, hard-working international students in my programs here at UB and they should be allowed to stay here if they want to – they will help build up America, learn more on-the-job skills, contribute directly to their home economies, and may some day take well-honed management and technical skills back to their countries to help those economies grow as well.  We by no means have a zero-sum world economy.  We can all grow and be better off.  If developing countries grow faster than we do – that’s great.  We should be encouraging it for their sake and ours’.

It is time to put America first again, not the political party – and that, remarkably, may mean opening our doors and hearts to the world again.  And it certainly means parking petty party politics to get America, and the rest of the world, moving again.  Kudos to Bloomberg Businessweek for this editorial.

Dave Frasier

Assistant Dean

 

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It has been far too long since I posted anything here, reflecting what a busy summer it was finalizing admissions and preparing for the launch of a new core curriculum this fall in our MBA program – we’ll talk more about that later in the semester.

One of the highlights of the University at Buffalo MBA is our Corporate Champions Program in which each first-year student team is linked with a company for some real-world exposure and a project in the first semester.

One of the “perks” of my job is that I occasionally get to accompany the students on a visit.  Today Team Cameron visited their company.  I did not know that the “air separation” industry began in Buffalo and is still going strong with equipment suppliers like Cameron and industrial gases suppliers like Praxair.  One aspect of the corporate relationships we have through the Champions program tht continues to amaze me is the dedication of the companies and their people to our MBA students.  Cameron’s president, who is headquartered in Houston was in Buffalo for the day and spent half an hour with our students.

We had a few minutes to spend with some of our alumni who work at Cameron – across many different areas from safety to engineering to sales.  There were eight or ten in the room and several others who were out of town.  One graduate mentioned that he did the PMBA program, which took three years part-time.  His summary comment about the value of the program to him was, ” I received in three years at UB, what it would have taken me thirty years to learn ‘on-the-job’ and that was more than worth the time and effort.”

Thanks to all our alumni and corporate community friends who give their time and expertise to our students.  And congratulations to another great class of UB MBA students jumping into the program and gaining practical and theoretical learning that will pay returns for years to come.

Dave Frasier, Assistant Dean

LeaderCORE Defense Day

Today marks the culmination of an amazing process that was the development and launch of the UB MBA LeaderCORE program of leadership development for our full-time MBA students.  Today the first cohort to work through this program is defending their portfolios.  Each student has prepared a portfolio representing their attainment levels in the ten competencies and has made a bid for a certification level.  UB is the only MBA program we are aware of that has this culminating certification step in a leadership development program.  Two assessors, one internal and one external, will interview each student for 45 minutes, reviewing with them previously submitted portfolios.  At the conclusion of the interview the assessors will collaborate to determine the certification level that will be awarded to the student.  We are highly appreciative of all the external support this program has received from its inception to development to today’s culminating review.  The personnel involved in today’s review include, by position: an executive vice president of a regional bank, the vice president of HR at a global manufacturing company, senior vice president of HR for a regional medical system, a client solutions executive for a global technology company, a senior manager for a global big-four accounting firm, the director of talent management and organizational development for a global food processing company, an associate corporate counsel for that same food processing company, a partner in a regional law firm and a community relations account supervisor for a regional HMO.

The celebration of LeaderCORE achievement will be held next week at the Buffalo Niagara Marriott where students will receive their certificates and medallions which they will wear at graduation.  Already we have congratulatory comments coming from the corporations involved as to the excellence of LeaderCORE in preparing our students.  This is a true distinctive for the UB MBA and our graduates.

My congratulations and thanks go out to all the faculty, staff, students and external stake holders who were involved in the development and launch of LeaderCORE.

Dave Frasier, Assistant Dean

The banking and financial world has been in a relative state of chaos for the last several years.  I am curious if that is dissuading a number of prospective MBA students from pursuing a career in banking?  We happen to have several great regional, national and international banks represented in the Buffalo Niagara region that are solid corporate  citizens, supporters of the University and School of Management, and looking for MBA recruits.

One particular relationship I am focusing on at the moment is that with M&T Bank, and their offer to sponsor two of our MBA students as M&T Fellows.  This extends to significant financial support toward tuition and expenses, a great summer internship at the bank and a likely offer to join their executive associate program upon graduation.  If you, or anyone you know, would be interested in exploring this opportunity please contact me immediately for more information at davidf@buffalo.edu

The UB MBA program provides a great educational base for jumping into a banking and finance career.  We provide a solid core foundation, opportunities for a deep look into a functional area or two, ethical grounding (so important in financial institutions, and everywhere else, today) and great leadership development through LeaderCORE.

Take a close look at what this UB School of Management and M&T Bank partnership could mean for you and your career.

Dave Frasier, Assistant Dean

We’re at that time of year when there is a plethora of “looking back and looking ahead” on all sorts of dimensions.  Academia is a bit off cycle since we tend to run on academic years rather than calendar years but I want to look ahead based on a set of developments that have come to fruition in the past year that I anticipate will have a lasting positive impact on the University at Buffalo MBA Program.  If you have been following program developments you probably already know that we have a new curriculum launching for the fall of 2012.  This is coming together with maturing program elements that we have been refining over the last several years that I believe are going to blend into a package that will make the UB MBA one of the most holistic, integrated and compelling MBA programs in the country.

The new UB MBA core comes out of two years of intensive committee work that looked at content and delivery in top MBA programs across the spectrum graduate management schools.  The result is a smaller, modular core focusing on what every manager needs to know, with renewed emphasis on delivery as well as content, with an experiential capstone. This restructuring also allows students greater flexibility to take advantage of a rich selection of concentrations and the LeaderCORE™ program. The addition of Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability and IT Management courses round out an already strong core by introducing areas of discussion that are high on the list of management priorities today.

One of the hallmarks of the UB program, “real-world learning” is integrated throughout the program.  In the first semester the Corporate Champions program directly connects study teams with companies in the area for multiple touch points including site visits, community service projects and in-depth analyses of challenges the companies may be dealing with.  The final Corporate Champions project integrates elements from Statistical Analysis, Organizational Behavior and Management Communication and is a demanding team effort that extends across the entire semester.  The Business Strategy class challenges each study team to evaluate a different distressed company, develop a turn-around plan and present their analysis to a live panel of evaluators who will give them tough feedback about both their analytical and presentation skills.  The second-year Business Practice class will bring students back to strategy concepts and require them to engage in solving real-time company challenges.  Many elective courses provide additional opportunities such as the live projects in Consulting and SAP training in Supply Chains courses.

The LeaderCORE™ program is challenging our MBAs to assess, develop, and certify their leadership competencies and soft skills that are so critical to successful management today.  This program is being intimately integrated throughout our core and elective courses with faculty highlighting in their syllabi what course elements tie back to the ten competencies in our LeaderCORE™ model.  The foundation of Leadership PACE, built over more than ten years, now expanded to a comprehensive two-year leadership development experience, culminating in student certification, provides an opportunity that is truly unique to Buffalo MBA students.

The first-year Mentoring program provides support for first-year teams and provides further leadership development opportunities for second-year students involved in the program.  Conversations with an Executive, country forums, multiple case competitions, the January China trip, MBA Advantage and opportunities for students to engage with and run a variety of clubs round out an MBA experience that stands with the best and comes with an outstanding value proposition consistently recognized by the likes of Businessweek and Forbes.

I am excited about the future of our UB MBA.  If you are a prospective student reading this, check us out thoroughly, we’ll measure up to your needs and expectations.  If you are an alum, check in with us to learn how you can contribute to further strengthening your program’s heritage.  If you are a potential employer of MBA students, contact us to find out how you can access what will be some of the best and brightest future leaders.

Here’s to a bright 2012 and beyond.

Dave Frasier, Assistant Dean

 

WOOSH!

I think that was the semester that just flew by.  It seems like just last week that we welcomed a new group of MBA, MS and PhD students to the University at Buffalo School of Management and now they are down to a last few exams, projects and papers.  They’ll all be gone in a few days, we’ll celebrate Christmas and New Years and then a group of us will be off to China for our annual MBA trip to explore what’s going on in the Middle Kingdom.

It was an exciting semester in many ways.  Last week I sat in on 18 Corporate Champions presentations by our first-year MBA teams.  The corporate exposure, insights and outcomes these Imagefirst semester students gained were phenomenal.  Our statistics, communications and organizational behavior faculty collaborated on these “projects” this year so the student inquiries and presentations cut across multiple areas and were outstanding.

One of the second year classes, Leadership Development, had students undertaking projects including an evaluation of the Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition, and the Giving Tree ImageProject that succeeded in soliciting over$4000 worth of Christmas gifts for inner-city kids in Buffalo.

It has also been an encouraging semester in terms of resources for the school.  There are a number of developments in the works that appear to be coming together to allow us to significantly improve programs, staffing and outcomes throughout the school.  I keep teasing our development staff about scholarship funds and capital funding for the next addition to our physical plant.  That should be done in collaboration with a business partner(s) who will establish facilities right here on campus where our students can be a resource through internships and part-time work.  Things are looking up but we have a tremendous amount of work to do to build further critical resources for the school.

LeaderCORE(TM) has also been developing in great ways.  Professor Muriel Anderson and I traveled to Seattle to present the program at the MBA Roundtable’s Curricular Innovation Forum last month and were very well received.  We still believe it is the only MBA leadership development program that incorporates a formal certification step.  Current students assisted us over the summer in developing a tremendous excel tool to capture and document individual student activities that provide evidence of their competency development.  That log will be an integral part of the certification defense next March.

Stay tuned for more good news from the UB MBA, MS and PhD programs and check in with us to discover ways you can contribute to the efforts – be a classroom guest, an executive speaker, give to a fund in the school, host a group of students at your company, be a Corporate Champion – the opportunities, and rewards, are just an ask away.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dave Frasier, Assistant Dean

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