The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is still the flagship business programme for many working professionals, the gold standard qualification for international business, and often a prerequisite for a career in business management or management consulting. Students join an MBA programme to accelerate careers, switch career path or realise entrepreneurial ambitions. Here, Randa Bessiso, the Director at The University of Manchester Middle East Centre, talks to Education UAE about how it’s never too late for parents to go back to school and get their MBA.
Education UAE: Why is it important now more than ever to get an MBA?
Randa Bessiso: The business world is transforming rapidly and the MBA programme helps students understand these fundamental shifts, such as the impacts of digital technologies to the workplace expectations of millennials, from a management perspective. Students benefit from new knowledge, tools and skills, career support and a professional network of contacts – all essential to maintaining long-term employability.
EDUAE: What are the most in demand majors?
RB: The Manchester Global Part-time MBA programme (ranked the best in the region by Forbes Middle East in 2019) is structured around four practical themes – Management in Practice; Value Creation in Business; Tailoring Your Journey; Professional Skills for Business; and with options to tailor further. Students can also further personalise the MBA programme with a range of electives to suit specific goals and interests.
EDUAE: What are the options your program offers to already working parents?
RB: There is a growing choice of MBA options for working parents in the region and candidates should look for the best fit in terms of programme content, opportunities to personalise and learning format. The Manchester Global Part-time MBA offers flexibility through its blended learning format enabling students to continue to work, quickly apply their new learning, study at their own pace online, and join regular face to face workshops, while continuing to meet work and family commitments. The two-year MBA has offers accelerated study routes (18 months) for eligible professionals, and students can customise their MBA with a live business project and our wide range of elective courses, delivered across six global centres. This is an opportunity to explore a new field of interest, or gain more expertise in a specific area.
EDUAE: When is it too late to learn something new?
RB: The deeper trend in business education is lifelong learning as people need to refresh and learn skills constantly to maintain their employability. Business executives continue to return to the classroom and not just for the digital view of business, strategy and management, but also with an interest in building portfolio careers.
EDUAE: Tell us about the transferable skills one gains from an MBA.
RB: The MBA covers all the core functions of business and so the skills and tools are equally applicable to c-level executives and managers, heads of specialist functions in large enterprises, SMEs and entrepreneurs looking to start-up a new venture.
EDUAE: What are the statistics on age groups that attend your university?
RB: The average age of our part-time MBA students is mid 30s, with students ranging in age from late 20s to early 50s joining the programme. As a post experience Master’s degree the quality of student and the experience they bring to the programme and share with follow peers is critical.
EDUAE: What is the current demographic of students?
RB: Our latest (January) cohort of MBA students in the Middle East includes working professionals of 29 nationalities, residing in countries across the region and with the majority living and working in the GCC, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Businesswomen comprise more than 16% of the new cohort, the majority of which is self-funded. 12% of the new students already hold a Masters or Doctoral degree. With over 100 nationalities, these experienced senior business people are in roles from c-level to specialist functions and entrepreneurs with leading companies.
Randa Bessiso is the Director at The University of Manchester Middle East Centre, and is recognised as being among the region’s most influential businesswomen. She is Chair of the UAE-UK Business Council’s Higher Education Group and a regular media commentator and speaker on ‘women in business’.