East meets West

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 July, 2012, 12:00am


The curriculum of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) programmes now taught in Hong Kong naturally covers key practices and current developments in international business. But the school makes a point of always looking ahead, recasting courses and introducing new elements, so that students are ready for change and understand its potential impact.

This is all part of the school's strategic approach to forward-planning, ensuring that courses move with the times, reflecting new insights and the realities of modern business, while also providing the practical know-how executives will need for the next major career step.

As explained by Robert Widing, dean and professor in management (marketing) at MGSM, four pillars underpin the school's mission and academic philosophy. In developing leaders with a global mindset, there is a focus on creating sustainable value and teaching the importance of good citizenship. This sees topics such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) embedded in all core courses in the selection of programmes, from a postgraduate certificate to a wide-ranging MBA.

'For example, our core unit on organisational behaviour, taught several times each year, now includes a four-hour session on ethics and CSR,' Widing says. 'There is also an elective on leadership and motivation in most MGSM master-level courses, including a session on environmental responsibility, CSR, ethics and 21 other elements.'

The aim is to address issues shaping global business in the years ahead, giving students the competencies to work effectively in different settings or with non-familiar teams. That may sound simple, but developing a global mindset and the necessary agility obviously requires the faculty to have a strategic sense of direction.

MGSM has teamed up with several leading companies for a series of forward-looking projects and case studies allowing students to gain a broader business perspective by seeing the type of practical challenges organisations worldwide must be ready to face.

'Students can expect challenge from real-world experience, whether solving issues of strategic importance for multinationals or attending a lecture at Google's head offices,' Widing says.

Such initiatives, he notes, have helped MGSM win recognition in the business community and achieve a consistently high ranking among the world's top business schools for its programmes and student quality.

To maintain and improve on these standards, MGSM is actively planning for change. 'Accounting for managers', the first unit of an online MBA, is soon to be launched. Two further core units will follow, enabling students to gain their postgraduate certificate online and adding extra flexibility for those taking the taught MBA.

'With this option, students can study while travelling, throughout career changes or important life events,' Widing says. 'Our goal is to develop flexible, highly practical, interactive management education, offering the same learning outcomes as classroom-based courses.'

In doing this, faculty members draw on the best of Asian and Western business practice. They recognise that in the field of global mergers and acquisitions, a significant shift noticeable since 2010 now sees more Asian companies taking over Western targets than vice-versa - a pattern set to continue.

'With this in mind, the MGSM classroom seeks to deliver a global experience, rather than a Western- or Asian-centred one,' Widing says. 'Our student body directly adds to the classroom diversity, bringing a variety of experience and a range of opinion. We consider Hong Kong a vital part of MGSM and its future. Australia and Hong Kong have long shared a relationship based on strong trade and investment partnerships. Now, this link is more important than ever.'