Category Archives: MBA Admissions

What Brexit and Trumpquake mean for MBAs

I have been meaning to write this blog post ever since the US election results were announced but decided to wait several weeks to collect my thoughts. The elections were hugely divisive and regardless of result, the emotions of millions of people would have been running high the morning of 9th November.

There is a lot of handwringing about the failure of most pollsters and experts to forecast a Donald Trump victory. There is even more debate about what a Trump presidency might mean for America and the world. The answer is probably that it is too early to tell given Trump’s lack of track record in government and his unpredictability. But what I want to write about is the echo chamber that social media seems to have enveloped people today.

Over the years, I have added a high number of Cambridge MBAs as Facebook friends. It was striking how a very high percentage of the MBAs belonged to the Remain camp or were anti-Trump. That might not be surprising given that our MBAs are international and largely benefited from globalisation, or stand to benefit from the free movement of people. What did get me thinking was how this near uniformity of views squares with our aim of building a diverse class.

I have always said that a diverse class is not about collecting passports but to have people with different backgrounds who can provide different insights. And it is by bringing together these different insights into a classroom that will shape the Cambridge MBA graduate. However, when a very high percentage of Cambridge MBAs share the same beliefs, then it does call into question how diverse the class is, and more generally, how diverse is the MBA community.

I am not suggesting that all MBAs were in the Remain camp or anti-Trump. There might have been some who voted Leave or for Trump but chose to remain silent on social media in the runup to both votes because the echo chambers that social media creates can make the voice of the majority almost deafening to the minority. While it might not make immediate business sense to do so, I hope that Facebook and other social media giants could think of how to adjust their algorithms so that a wider plurality of views can be channeled into our newsfeeds even if it means lower average click rates. And to think of ways where more considered discussions based on facts and not fake news, can be carried out.

Ultimately, MBA programmes shouldn’t feel ashamed if they tend to admit students who share certain beliefs so long as they successfully go through the admissions process. On the other hand, we will have to think of how to create the conditions in our MBA programmes where the opposing views to these beliefs get a fair hearing, not out of a sense of tokenism but because MBAs need to be challenged and form their own views about business, society, and globalisation. I expect our Business in Society core class to have many such debates when the class is conducted in Easter term.

What this season’s Premiership title race can teach us about spotting and nurturing talent

By now, even non-football fans would have read about the incredible exploits of Leicester City Football Club. Rated 5000-1 outsiders by bookies before the season, they completed an amazing year-long turnaround from being bottom of the table at one point last season, to winning the title with 3 games to spare. This is a team… Continue Reading

The Cambridge MBA 2015 class

Last week, we welcomed 157 students into the Cambridge MBA 2015 class. Yes, it is strange that we call a class by the year that they start and not the year they graduate which is what almost every other school does, but we are part of an 806 year old institution so we can be… Continue Reading

Compare the Meerkats

Many of my friends and colleagues know that I love tech and social media although I am not the early adopter type. More like the person who comes in after that first adopter wave. Last week, I broke that pattern by being an early adopter of an app that, had taken SWSX by storm. Meerkat… Continue Reading

My trip to Angola

So I was waiting outside my hotel looking for our designated driver when I heard someone ask me 你需要帮忙吗?(Do you need any help in Mandarin). That shouldn’t be surprising except that I was in Luanda, capital of Angola, and it was a Portuguese woman who was speaking to me in Mandarin. It was a great… Continue Reading

Combining Careers and Admissions and Marketing

This summer, the Cambridge MBA team underwent a reorganisation that saw the Marketing, Admissions and Careers functions come under my supervision. Within the Careers team, we have beefed up the employer relations and business development side so that we can increase our outreach to employers with two objectives, one to better understand employer talent needs… Continue Reading

The China wave

Two CJBS faculty members recently wrote a paper on how Chinese companies were innovating faster than their Western competitors by focusing on the speed of R&D instead of quality. Their paper has gained considerable attention and was featured in a recent Economist article. I attended a recent alumni dinner in Hong Kong where Eden Yin,… Continue Reading