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Panel: Do Business Schools Have and/or Build the Right Faculty to Meet the Future?

Event:
19th CEEMAN Annual Conference
Georgia - Tbilisi | 2011
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We have reached the final stage of the conference and it seems that everything has been said already. The issues that I am going to talk about have also been mentioned. But to me it is indicative that this session on faculty is the last one. Whatever we do as managers and leaders of management institutions, if we do not have appropriate faculty, all our efforts will be in vain. We will not achieve anything. 

At the beginning of this conference, Danica Purg asked if we were ready for the future. The answer is that probably we are not. What can we do about that? This is what we are going to talk about during this session. 

I would like to tell you a couple of words about the school that I come from. I come from RISEBA - Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration. That is how we were established 19 years ago - as a business school. But now we would like to be a university. We provide education in business, media, and audio-visual studies. This academic year we also launched a program in architecture. 

We have been asked why we are doing this. The answer is not to be found in a business rationale. We are doing it because we believe in bringing together business and the arts, forming synergies between them. We want to enhance the creativity of business students while providing those in the arts with business expertise. 

This year is the 19th anniversary of CEEMAN. My school is also 19 years old. If somebody had told me 19 year ago that today I would be sitting in the same panel as a distinguished IMD professor, discussing the same issues, I would have never believed it. I want to thank CEEMAN that we have achieved some tremendous progress 19 years after people in our countries did not know what management was. 

We had lengthy discussions on what students need and what we should do to teach them well. I would like to quote Peter Kraljic who spoke on this yesterday and said that this is about new skills, explanations, and values. In my view, one of the key success factors in a modern economy is the ability to learn, create, and innovate: the ability of human being constantly to create new things. I also believe that it is vitally important for our students to possess entrepreneurial skills as well as leadership. 

Talking about leadership, it is very important not to forget the concept of followership. We all have to lead at some time of our lives but at other times we have to follow. Sometimes, we have to switch roles within one and the same day. 

Of course, we want to prepare responsible managers, thinking of business ethics and sustainability. Significant time should also be devoted to self-reflection. But how do we teach these things? Some speakers yesterday said that the focus should be on learning, not teaching. This is one of the first things that I tell my students when we start our course in leadership. We discuss the question of whether leaders are born, made, or educated. This brings up the question of whether leadership can be taught. I tell them that it cannot be taught but it can be learned. 

Creativity is essential but it does not lie within one discipline. A multidisciplinary approach is a key issue. I think that creativity and out-of-the-box thinking can be taught by bringing students into different contexts. It is important that we provide different contexts in the classroom and outside. For example, we combine cases with sports and mountain-climbing. This enables the students to immerse themselves in different critical situations. 

It is sometimes said that entrepreneurs are born with the skill of knowing how to sell to people. I do not think that this is true. It is important to see what experiences they have had since their childhood. They were not born entrepreneurs but they were exposed to different situations and the influence of different people. Therefore, we should not underestimate the role of the professor in the classroom. 

But it is also important to understand who our customers are. The new generation lives in social networks. If you cannot meet our students in the classroom, you can meet them in one of the social networks. This generation is also very diverse. It consists of children born to teenage mothers but also to mothers who have professional careers. Sometimes we are shocked and frightened by the smartness of the students of this generation. They are under strong pressure to succeed. They lack interpersonal skills because they deal mostly with computers, far less with people. 

Who are our professors? All schools have good ones and some that are less good. Professors are individualists by nature. They are masters in what they do: working in a classroom. They are very discipline-oriented. And they do not like change; they resist to the last moment. 

We have to admit that professors are aging and, as a result, they lag behind students in technical skills. I read in an article once that one professor said that as he aged he became intolerant of his students. He worked well with those who did what they were required but was impatient with the rest. 

It is interesting that in this age of plentiful information, professors are protective of their know-how. They believe they have a copyright on their knowledge. 

Another issue is that in our countries we still have a lack of foreign language skills, especially English language skills. It is challenging to motivate people to learn languages. 

Quite often, professors see their role narrowly. They think that it is confined to the classroom and does not have anything to do with any out-of-classroom support, such as finding clients. 

What can we do about all these issues? The first thing for a business school is to have a clear faculty development policy. We often meet professors at various forums and we want to invite them if they are good presenters. But it is important to be consistent. It is vital to involve the faculty in both internal and external faculty development programs. Unfortunately, we often underutilize internal resources although it is possible to set up seminars for faculty and offer language training. Sharing knowledge in this way is quite important. 

There are also plenty of external faculty development programs. I have participated in three of them. One was at IESE, Barcelona. Another was at Harvard Business School. The third was CEEMAN’s IMTA (International Management Teachers Academy). Let me tell you a couple of things about IMTA without trying to sell it to you. I really appreciate the fact that I have been through the training programs of IESE and Harvard but I keep sending my faculty to IMTA, even in times of crisis. Last year, I went there myself, unfortunately only for one week. I will be sending more people every year. Compared to other programs, IMTA gives you an opportunity for reflection. It is not just about pedagogy and methodology. It makes you spend time reflecting on who you are as a person and as a teacher, what you bring to the classroom and how you can use that to transform your students. All our faculty members who have been through IMTA behave like change agents and are seen as such. I really believe that this program is a very good tool for faculty development. 

We also need to look for young potential. Why do aging people dominate business schools? One reason is that younger people see better opportunities outside the academic world. They can make more money in business and they probably do not realize how rewarding a teaching job can be. We need to provide this experience and show to them that they have an opportunity to grow in the academic world. We also have to build partnerships with our faculty. In this way, the institution will benefit from their knowledge and skills but on the other hand the faculty will be able to grow and, if they have a genuine desire, they will move forward. 

Aging professors do not need to be a burden; they can be an asset to the institution. They can team up with younger ones and provide mentoring and coaching, whereas the young generation can share their technical skills with them. 

I know that IMD Lausanne does not have any departments but most of our schools do. Facilitating the communication between the departments is very important. It is also essential to involve our faculty in partnerships with different institutions. When we were developing a PhD program, we decided to do that with two other Latvian institutions. In that way, we ensured that we would have better faculty to provide quality for the students. We are also preparing a program in healthcare management with a medical university in Latvia. They are contributing professors of medicine, whereas we have professors of management. 

Another important thing is a supportive work environment. People have to like the place where they are working. A good organizational culture will appeal to the faculty and involve them in the organization’s activities. 

Building the brand of the institution is also essential. People like to be associated with an institution when they are proud of it. Therefore, brand management is an additional tool that can be used in faculty management.
Event:
19th CEEMAN Annual Conference: Management Education in a Changing World: Are We Ready for the Challenge?
Categories:
Filmed:
September 2011
Published from:
October 2011
Citation:
Irina Sennikova, Panel: Do Business Schools Have and/or Build the Right Faculty to Meet the Future?, (Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration (RISEBA)), http://riseba.lv/
Accessed: April 23 2018,
Available at: http://video.ceeman.org/lectures/656/2011_ceemanac_tbilisi_sennikova_dbshbrf
Irina Sennikova is Rector of Riga International School of Economics and Business (RISEBA). She holds an MA degree in English philology from the University of Latvia, MBA and MSc in Management from IEDC-Bled School of Management (Slovenia), and PhD from Kozminski University (Poland). More >>
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