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3 Top Trends Set To Reshape Global Management Education

Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC – The Graduate Management Admissions Council

In conversation with Joy Jones – CEO of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC)

  • Emerging economies such as Vietnam and the Philippines are showing high demand for graduate management education, highlighting a shift in where students will be attending schools
  • Specialised master’s programs are becoming increasingly focused, and degrees are expected to become even more particular, with content tailored to the professional expectations of the students
  • Business schools will focus on increasing diversity and inclusivity in their programs, targeting specific groups, such as Hispanics and Latinos for US schools

The world of graduate management education is constantly evolving, as programmes and processes adapt and expand to keep pace with the changing needs of business, students and society. Perhaps posing the greatest challenge yet is meeting the needs of Gen Z, the newest generation to begin trickling into programmes and joining the alumni communities of business schools around the world. GMAC, the Graduate Management Admission Council, has been recording the early impacts of this on graduate management education, as business schools begin to adjust to the increasingly socially-conscious, highly ambitious Tik-Tok generation taking on undergraduate, masters and, now, MBA programmes.

GMAC is a global organisation that serves as a hub for graduate management education, working with over 7,000 programs and 2,300 schools to provide products, services and research that enables institutions to meet the needs of those interested in pursuing graduate management education. GMAC is perhaps best known for creating and administering the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), a standardised entrance exam for business school applicants, for which they have recently introduced a new version; the GMAT focus.

Due to GMAC’s close relationship with business schools, faculty and applicants, there is perhaps no one more in tune with industry trends, or indeed more infliuential than its CEO, Joy Jones. In sitting down with our Editor-in-Chief, Joy underlines a few trends that have emerged over the years and which show no signs of slowing down…

A shifting global landscape…

First on her list is the emergence of new economies into the global management education landscape. “Through COVID we saw a little bit less mobility from Chinese candidates, but high demand from candidates in India, for example,” Joy says. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the next wave of countries are.” Whilst business schools in Singapore and China, for example, have long been established as globally competitive players, according to Joy, it is the younger generations from other economies which are driving a shift in not only who will be attending schools, but where. Attaining a qualification in general management may now be much more attractive to students who come from countries with promising characteristics, such as healthy business environments and entrepreneurial cultures. “I think some of candidates are going to come from other parts of Asia; like Vietnam or the Philippines,” she says.

And this should not necessarily make us think that students from such countries would be required to travel further afield to attend a top global business school. A growing number of institutions now have a presence within these regions, she shares. Such examples include the Asia School of Business in Malaysia – a partnership between the country’s national bank and MIT-Sloan.

The rise of the specialist…

As we see more Gen Z candidates entering graduate management education, Joy highlights a continuing increase in the number and variety of specialised master’s programs being offered by schools. Whilst many schools have long housed a range of specialised degree programmes under their roofs; from finance and business analytics to management and marketing, Joy states that the concentrations of these programmes are becoming even more focused than ever before. “Schools are now going to have a really rich portfolio of offerings, and I believe we will see a real effort from schools to develop systems of lifelong learning,” she shares. “In this, we will understand more on how degree programmes sit alongside non-degree programmes, short courses and certifications within these systems.” Degrees are thus expected to get more and more particular, with the content being intimately tailored to the specific professional expectations of the students.

Harnessing technology to enhance inclusivity…

Finally, Joy predicts – and aspires for – an increase in diversity and inclusivity in graduate management education. In line with both of the developments highlighted above, an ever-wider global applicant pool and a greater range of educational offerings will open the doors to a greater range of applicants from an ever wider range of locales and disciplines. In turn, with the help of technology and emerging programmes, schools will be able to tell more personalised stories and provide ever more tailored offerings that lead to more specific people at the right stage of their careers.

By exploring this ever more diverse range of voices and talents, schools will be able to better engage with potential students by being able to show them how a programme might benefit them. For example, in the US Joy highlights how applicants of Hispanic or Latino heritage (who historically have not been equally represented within business schools) are becoming increasingly important for US schools, leading to programmes being specifically designed or adapted with such candidates in mind – for example, by offering bilingual or solely Spanish teaching. “And these groups are not monolithic by any means, so we’re going to see schools trying to understand these different audiences at a more nuanced level to help figure out how to create the value proposition”, she emphasises. Such developments are necessary, she believes, to encourage a lifelong investment in general management education.

Still optimistic about the MBA, Joy Jones says the premier general management qualification is still the best degree to provide skills in business, critical thinking, and problem-solving. While the MBA will need to adapt, she argues there is both immediate advantages and lifelong rewards to be gained. For Joy Jones, general management education has much to offer, more than any TikTok the latest round of students may have shared…

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