Dr Stephen Hodges at Hult Business School

Dr Stephen Hodges at Hult Business School

One of the biggest assets of Hult is its campuses around the world. What was the goal of this initiative?

At the initial stage of my involvement with Hult it was clear that globalisation had, without doubt, exerted an impact on every single industry, but not really on higher education. We saw an opportunity to set up campuses around the world and offer US education without needing to go to the US. The campus rotation idea came a couple of years later as we were setting up campuses that were equal in quality. We thought that allowing students to move between campuses would be a very good way of ensuring internal discipline and thus making the educational experience as similar as possible across all our campuses. And I must say that we exceeded our own expectations.

How does your campus rotation strategy differ from the exchange programmes that other business schools offer?

Unlike an exchange programme, we have both sides of the transaction if you like. The curriculum in each campus is identical and run in lock-step. A one-year exchange programme can take quite a lot of time away from a student's education because of the different university systems or the way the curriculum is set up. With campus rotation, on the other hand, students move between campuses without missing anything or without duplicating any of the classes. Also, when you walk though our campuses around the world, you'll notice that they all look very similar. In other words it's very convenient for students to be able to move around on campus rotation without any kind of disruption to their studies.

Is campus rotation a more effective means for teaching global management these days?

There are three aspects to doing international business. The first is understanding the what: what you want to achieve. The second is understanding the how: how to accomplish what you want to do. And then the third aspect is understanding the operating environment: the challenges that you will face. You can only really teach the first aspect in a classroom. The how and the operating environment need to be experienced, because there is a huge difference in how business is done around the world and the issues that will be faced. When our students travel to Shanghai, Dubai and then India, they experience the dissimilarities in a so called "emerging market". We call it an emerging market, but then again that encompasses everything, from Hong Kong to Laos, and there are huge differences, say in the infrastructure and legal system for instance.

What's the importance of networking in business education?

Networking is important, first of all, to get a job. And then, of course, in business, networking is important if you want to tap into expertise. Whenever you face a problem you pick up the phone to get advice from a contact which could be invaluable. I used to work for McKinsey & Company, where we would regularly use the McKinsey network when we were engaging in a new industry or approaching a new client. We would always phone somebody who worked for that client or that industry just to tap into their expertise.

You promote Hult as a business school with an emphasis on practical education. What does that entail?

All the management of Hult has been in business and we have no interest in awarding degrees to people whose aspirations are to be Doctors of Business Administration. We want to qualify people who are effective general managers and therefore we ensure that all of our lecturers are like us: that they have both an academic and a business background. We work closely with businesses to pick up the latest trends and want to qualify people who can really make a difference in their business. While we teach theory, we spend even more time talking how the theory can be applied in practice.

What lies in store for Hult? Do you plan to open a new campus or will you now invest in a different venue?

We will continue to expand, as that will make the programme even better. We plan to invest more in technology as well. We've started to deploy video conferencing in all of our classrooms. Thus, for example, we can have a debate going between the Dubai students and the London students on the property crisis in Dubai or on what the Arab spring means for businesses operating in the Middle East. People on the ground can actually give you some of the most compelling lessons. They can say 'I know what you're seeing on CNN and the local news but that's not really true' which gives.

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