Asia School of Business (ASB) has been announced as the 2019 Innovator Award winner in the Early Stage Innovation category by the MBA Roundtable. The award recognises the school’s leadership in initiating and achieving curricular reform through its use of Action Learning in its MBA programmes, beating other top business schools in the process.

This is not the first time ASB has been recognised as a leader in innovation. Poets&Quants also lauded ASB as having “the most innovative MBA programme in the world today,” noting that as a new institution, ASB has had a unique chance to rewrite the business school playbook. The school has used this to its advantage, making sweeping changes to its curriculum that no existing business school has been able to replicate.

What makes ASB so innovative? The school’s focus on Action Learning, its unique connection with MIT Sloan, and its emphasis on emerging market development set it apart from other business schools around the world.

Built around Action Learning

Action Learning means learning by doing, completing hands-on projects with a wide range of host organisations and solving business challenges in real time. As a concept, Action Learning is not new among business schools, with many top schools advertising their own offerings. What sets ASB apart is the intensity and focus placed on Action Learning projects as the backbone of the school’s curriculum. All students complete team-based Action Learning projects each semester, often in another country with a distinctly different way of doing business.

ASB’s unique value proposition is to deliver high quality education through an intense Action Learning curriculum. Our Action Learning modules create productive opportunities for our students, in each of the five semesters they are with us, to engage with partner companies across the region and beyond in month-long projects of various range and focus. Since 2015, ASB has partnered with more than 127 companies on over 237 projects in over 20 countries around the world,” explained Prof. Loredana Padurean, Associate Dean and Faculty Director for Action Learning.

This wide-ranging and iterative approach to Action Learning provides several benefits. First, it allows students to explore and gain resume-worthy practical experience in multiple industries and functions, as well as build contacts with business leaders across Asia and beyond. Second, each new project further strengthens students’ ability to adapt to new environments, work in diverse teams, and design solutions outside of the well-defined boundaries of case problems. It is this emphasis on soft or “Smart” skills that prepares students for the increasing rate of change in today’s business environment.

As a startup, ASB has an entrepreneurial institutional culture that embraces innovation and encourages its students to be intellectually curious and to challenge the conventional wisdom of the day. Ultimately, I do believe that the skills, connections, and experiences that I take away from ASB will best prepare me for the rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected world of tomorrow,” notes 2019 ASB graduate Gary Liao.

MIT Sloan DNA, Asian perspective

Leveraging a strong partnership with MIT Sloan, ASB aims to combine the best elements of Western education with a uniquely Asian perspective, educating the next generation of leaders in an increasingly globalised world. With the school’s focus on fast-growing emerging markets, innovation is an essential ingredient in cultivating graduates who will thrive. Indeed, nearly three quarters of ASB graduates in its most recent cohort have remained in Asia and are driving impact in the region, regardless of their countries of origin.

"Mens et Manus (Mind and Hand), has been the motto for MIT Sloan since its inception in the 19th century. In today’s business world, this motto is as relevant now as ever, because the world needs leaders and changemakers who can be actively engaged in bringing leadership to a mature organisation, as readily as they would in a hands-on role, building a start-up. Our ASB graduates not only earn an MBA that is embedded with MIT Sloan DNA, but also gain an Asian perspective and an entrepreneurship mindset in the process. On behalf of the entire team at Bank Negara Malaysia, MIT Sloan and the extraordinary and unconventional ASB community, we want to thank you for this award that recognises all of our collective efforts," said Professor Charles Fine, President and Dean of ASB.