An interview with Jennifer George

Melbourne Business School: MBA participants come from over 32 countries

An interview with Jennifer George

Associate Dean of Students Melbourne Business School

How does your program differ from a traditional MBA program?

Our MBA has the same content (including class hours and assessment requirements) as a traditional two-year MBA but is an accelerated program that can be completed in just 16 months. The school's curriculum provides an excellent grounding in general management and allows for particular specializations in finance, marketing and innovation management. Recent
initiatives by the school in biotechnology management, intellectual property management and innovation are exciting new directions for our programs. We also have a number of subjects that focus on the Asian region including one that involves travel to Asia, undertaking projects in Shanghai and Singapore.

How is the program structured?

Our program is structured so that students begin with core management subjects. There is flexibility in the timing of some of these subjects that allows students wanting to specialize in either Marketing or Finance to include these earlier in their degree and take an additional elective in either Consumer Behaviour or Corporate Finance in the first half of the program.
The second half of the program is then extremely flexible with students able to choose 10 electives in any area.

What is the profile of your participants?

Professionals seeking a challenging and international environment where they can learn and grow in the company of their peers. The current fulltime MBA class is extremely diverse. Seventy percent came to Melbourne Business School from over 32 countries. Their average age is 29 and they have an average of six years of work experience. A wide range of undergraduate degrees is also represented in the class, including Arts, Commerce/Business, Engineering and Science. (see pie chart).

What are the characteristics you are looking for in MBA applicants?

We look for applicants who have already demonstrated career progression, who have good academic potential, and who demonstrate a good fit between their aspirations and what the school can deliver for them. We look for signs of early leadership and management promise and we look for people who are keen to contribute to the life of the school and open to working with others who may be different from themselves. This last point is important because we have a very diverse international student population.

Who are your professors?

We draw our faculty from a wide variety of sources. About half are non-Australians, while many of the Australians on the faculty trained at business schools around the world. We believe that it is important for us to be in contact with what is going on in international management education. Our new Dean, Professor John Seybolt, comes to us with very much that emphasis, having been involved for years in the AACSB organisation of international business schools while on faculty at Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management in Arizona. About two-thirds of our subjects are taught by permanent academics and around onethird are taught by practitioners, often with a solid academic background as well as current business experience. Our faculty is active in research and has many links to top schools around the world. We have particular strength in Finance, Economics, Organisational Behaviour /Negotiations and Marketing.

What is your school doing to remain at the forefront of business and management?

We believe that a strong research profile is important. The best way to stay at the forefront is to be a leading thinker. Additionally, we encourage our faculty to travel widely, participate in conferences, get involved in consulting to business and government and share their experiences with their colleagues through seminars.

How does class size affect the quality of education?

We think we've got the size of our fulltime intake about right. Very small programs make it difficult to have the breadth of experience and contacts within the class that are desirable for an MBA program. Very large programs, on the other hand, can be an isolating experience with more superficial networks being formed. We find that 120 to 150 students gives the best of both worlds and allows us to offer actual classroom sizes of about 45 on average, which is ideal for teaching through cases, lectures and experiential learning.

What are your school’s plans for the future?

We have just completed a merger with another Melbourne-based business school (Mt Eliza) that concentrated on executive education. As a combined school, we are now looking to expand our offerings and we will be broadening the portfolio of programs we are able to offer to both individual students and organisations. We have recently introduced a program in Innovation Management, targeting the hundreds of excellent research scientists produced by Melbourne universities each year, focusing on helping them to make their scientific skills valuable in a commercial environment. This is an exciting initiative for us.

About Jennifer George
As Associate Dean - Students, Jenny has responsibility for admissions and academic affairs in the School's MBA, postgraduate diploma and Master of Marketing programs. Jenny joined MBS in 1998 on completing her PhD from Stanford University and teaches Decision Analysis and Quantitative Analysis.

About Melbourne Business School

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the University of Melbourne's Business School is the region's largest business school and was first to introduce an MBA program. Nowadays, it provides students with a range of full-time, part-time and executive programs. For the third consecutive year, MBS ranked first in the 2004 MBA Survey conducted by the "Australian Financial Review" as published in September in its "BOSS" magazine. Staff interviewed 22 MBA schools around Australia and surveyed each school's alumni, which accounted for two-thirds of the total ranking weight based on the assumption that past students' "experience is an excellent guide."

In addition, Melbourne Business School was named "First in Australia" in 2003 by the "Financial Times" and "First in Asia- Pacific" by the MBA Career Guide in 2002 and 2003. Melbourne Business School's current enrollment counts 705 students (359 full-time, 346 part-time) on campus in Parkville, an inner Melbourne suburb. Statistics on the number of women were not available. The average age is 29. For the graduating class of 2001-2002, 85 percent were employed within three months of graduation with average starting salaries of $97,768, according to Peterson's Guide to MBA Programs. With 45 percent ownership by the University of Melbourne and 55 percent by Australian businesses, the school's Board of Directors comes from both academia and the corporate community. The Board believes its unique management structure ensures the school remains focused on the current actual business issues. Changes also lie ahead as a new dean started in November. John Seybolt moved from Arizona in the U.S. to take the helm with a goal "to continue building MBS as the pre-eminent provider of management and business education in the Asia-Pacific region."



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