Olin’s MBA program named Program of the Year by business journal for 2019

Elia Zhang | Contributing Reporter

Alongside an updated curriculum with an increased emphasis on global immersion, Olin Business School’s full-time MBA program was named as the 2019 MBA Program of the Year by Poets&Quants, a distinguished business journal, Jan. 14.

Photo by Holden Hindes

The prestigious award included other significant accomplishments, validating the extensive efforts the program has made to expand its offerings.

Poets&Quants, a magazine focused on the graduate business education market, placed Olin Business School on its list of top 10 MBA programs to watch in 2019. The program was also named the top MBA program in the country for gender equity by the Forte Foundation and the top MBA program in the world for entrepreneurship by Inc. Magazine.

The news came as a pleasant surprise for both students and faculty.

“I woke up to some emails already saying ‘Congratulations’ from students, and so I think they are very excited,” Ashley Macrander, assistant dean and director of graduate programs, said. “And I think [for] the students that are currently in the application process for next year’s class, they are even more excited to join the MBA program of the year.”

Olin launched a revamped MBA program during the summer semester of 2019, with an increased focus on global business and direct practical experience for MBA students. According to Dean of Olin Business School, Mark Taylor, the new curriculum took about a year to plan and was prompted by the University’s desire to have an increased international outlook.

“Whatever you do, it’s very important to have a global perspective, because whatever you do will have global implications,” Taylor said. “…Thinking globally about these issues is very important no matter what size of your organization.”

For first-year MBA student Lungile Tshuma, Olin’s global approach was a major selling point for the program. As a student from Zimbabwe, he hopes to use his business knowledge to aid the development of the country, and he was specifically drawn to the program’s global immersion and emphasis on travel.

“I only applied to Olin Business School,” Tshuma said. “For people like me that don’t get these opportunities as much, for someone like me to come here and to speak and to be listened to, it’s powerful.”

The MBA program starts with a global immersion program that lasts for six weeks. In 2019, students and faculty traveled to Washington D.C.; Shanghai, China and Barcelona, Spain. In 2020, the program plans to take students to D.C.; Barcelona, Spain; Paris, France and Lima, Peru. Students learn how to use the existing local networks while also figuring out how cultural differences play in the business industry themselves.

Within the Shanghai program, students were first assigned a retail sector to compare to its US market equivalent. Later on, they designed a business plan to launch street donuts in Shanghai. Professor of Organization and Strategy Daniel W. Elfenbein, who led last year’s excursion, described the significance of completing the program directly in Shanghai instead of in a classroom in St. Louis.

“After we’ve been having students from China for a long time, a lot of important people in China, we were able to bring them into the classroom,” Elfenbein said.

Not only did the program equip students with cultural adaptability in the business field, it also created strong bonding within the student community.

“We formed some really fantastic bonds with each other,” first-year MBA student Kendra Kelly said. “We are still very close now.”

After taking the summer abroad, the program is designed so that students can relate their field experiences back to learning in the classroom. Faculty members who taught during the global summer immersion meet with faculty members who teach the fall courses and update the curriculum to reflect back on the global immersion experience.

“You go out and have them experience it and then they would say ‘Oh, here is the problems and the questions I have, I was trying to get answers.’ And then you come back and revisit those tools,” Patrick Moreton, professor of practice in strategy and management, said.

Olin plans to continue improving their programs and creating more flexibility and variety for students, potentially adding more overseas experiences in the future.

“We are always thinking about ways we can elevate,” Taylor said.

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