Melbourne Business School alumni reunion 2019

One of the highlights of my year is the annual Melbourne Business School alumni reunion – which is, essentially, a two-day seminar and networking event.

Here’s our Dean, Professor Ian Harper, giving us an update on how the school is doing.

Professor Ian Harper, Dean of Melbourne Business School gives alumni an update on how the school is doing.

This year I attended sessions on:

  • creating career roadmaps (with speakers from act3 Planning)

  • data-oriented businesses

  • areas of marketing debate

  • ethics for companies that collect data, and

  • managing sustainability.

All of which were excellent, as usual.

Melbourne Business School MBA ranked #9 by BloombergBusinessweek

Melbourne Business School (MBS) has one of the best MBA programs in the world but, for whatever reason, it hasn't always gotten as much recognition as it deserves.

That's changed this year because MBS is at #9 in BloombergBusinessweek's 2016 International MBA rankings

It's also the only Australian B-school to be ranked by BloombergBusinessweek.

Students love it, too, because MBS achieved the #3 position in the student survey rank: 

This is excellent news for MBS and it makes me super happy to see how well they're doing. 

(For more on this, also check out Professor Mark Ritson's write-up: 'Melbourne Business School rated in International Top 10 for MBA for 2016'.)

Economist Ranks MBS MBA Regional #1 and Global #32

Economist + Which MBA logoThe Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked the Melbourne Business School full-time MBA at #1 in Asia and Australasia and #32 globally in its 2011 full-time MBA rankings.

MBS is already ranked #1 in Australia by AFR BOSS and #46 globally by Times Higher Education.

Drilling down to the detailed profile for MBS, you get some interesting results.

Missed Networking Opportunities

For example, the school ranks well for networking:

  • Potential to network: #5
  • Breadth of alumni network (i.e. ratio of registered alumni to current students): #2

But ranks poorly in the use and perception of its alumni network:

  • Alumni effectiveness (i.e. student assessment of alumni network): #89

I’m not sure why this might be the case. I can make a few guesses, though. For example, international students might find that, while there are tonnes of MBS alumni that they can network with in Asia and Australasia, there aren’t enough of them around the rest of the world. There might also be some missed opportunities in the students’ use of the alumni network. Or of recent alumni themselves not networking much with each other.

Career Services is Improving

MBS also ranks really well for its careers service:

  • Jobs found through the careers service (i.e. percentage of graduates finding jobs through careers service): #2

But students and alumni don’t seem to give it enough credit:

  • Student assessment of careers service (i.e. did the careers service meet expectations and needs?): #98

This suggests that, while the MBS Career Centre is doing a good job, it suffers from some perception problems. This might be because perception change among alumni who no longer need or use the careers service lags the reality of the careers service having improved in recent years. I do know that the MBS Career Centre in 2008-09 had a challenging time placing graduates from my full-time MBA batch because we were the first group to come out of the new September intake. This meant the Career Centre had to find jobs for twice as many students (many of whom were international) right at the beginning of the GFC. And, since the EUI’s ranking has memory – i.e. it’s a weighted average of results from 2011 (50%), 2010 (30%), and 2009 (20%) – this alumni perception would still have an impact on perception scores.


Overall, though, this is a good result and I’m glad that MBS continues to improve its quality, reputation, and ranking.

MBS MBA Again Ranked Number 1 by AFR BOSS

afrboss_red_logo_smallThe Australian Financial Review’s (AFR) BOSS magazine has, once again, ranked the Melbourne Business School MBA at number one in Australia.

According to these rankings, the top five MBAs in Australia are from these business schools:

  1. Melbourne Business School
  2. University of Queensland – Business School
  3. Monash University – Department of Management
  4. QUT Graduate School of Business (Queensland University of Technology)
  5. Australian School of Business – AGSM

BOSS conducts this research every other year and its results are based on two components: an alumni survey (weighted 55%) and data supplied by schools (weighted 45%). 21 business schools participated this time and 19 of these made it into the rankings (two didn’t, due to insufficient alumni responses). 1,600 b-school alumni from the graduating classes of 2008-2010 (inclusive) took part in the survey.

Digging Deeper

Looking more closely at the results:

  • The AGSM and MBS MBAs have the highest tuition fee ($64,800 and $64,000, respectively) followed by Monash and Macquarie ($57,260 and $56,000, respectively). The rest of the MBAs have tuition fees under $50k.
  • 96% of MBS alumni reported that their MBA provided them value for money.
  • MBS, AGSM, and Macquarie MBAs have the greatest number of class contact hours over the entire degree (720, 686, and 640 hours, respectively). As it happens, these are also three of the four most expensive degrees. The others all have fewer than 600 class contact hours. 
  • MBS was ranked 3rd for satisfaction, 5th for value for money, and 1st for research.
  • When survey respondents were asked which school they would attend if money and location were not an issue, MBS came out on top again.

International Rankings

The two most notable international rankings of business schools come from the Financial Times and the Economist. In their latest rankings:

  • The Financial Times ranks AGSM at #35 and MBS at #53
  • The Economist ranks MBS at #44, Monash at #58, MGSM at #64, Curtin at #76, UoQ at #81

FT will be kicking off research for its 2012 b-school rankings later this month.

Diversity in MBA Programs

Matt Symonds recently wrote a good article on the importance of diversity in MBA programs: schools seek to encourage not only more women and ethnic minorities to do an MBA, but also those with more diverse backgrounds including media, military, not-for-profits and entrepreneurship


But is it important for business schools to also strive for professional diversity? Many academics, administrators and students would say so. In fact, it’s been argued that restricting the MBA course participants to a limited range of experience means that traditionally accepted patterns of thought go unchallenged. They argue that a wide-ranging group of students helps to put business decision-making into a wider perspective, and thereby reduce the risk of a herd mentality that leads to ill-informed decisions. Perhaps Wall Street should take note?

Diversity in the student body - particularly a good mix of international students - is one of the main reasons I applied to Melbourne Business School for my MBA; and I was certainly not disappointed. In my intake (the full-time MBA intake of  September 2006) we had about 65  students, only seven of which were from Australia (the rest were from about 35 countries) and a quarter of which were women (for MBA programs, this is better than most).

MBS also goes out of its way to acquire diversity through its various scholarship programs. In my case, I was awarded (what is now called) the Dean's International Management Scholarship. Every year, that adds about three financially-limited international students to a mix of people who are fortunate enough to have other means to paying for their studies. I, for one, will be forever grateful to MBS for giving me that opportunity.

Profile on Upcoming MBS Dean Zeger Degraeve

I didn’t blog about this at the time but Melbourne Business School is getting a new Dean: Professor Zeger Degraeve, who is currently at London Business School, will be taking over from current Dean, Professor Jennifer George, in September.

From MBS’ news item on the appointment:
Prof. Zeger Degraeve at a glance:

  • Inaugural chair, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Chair for Innovation, London Business School

  • Founder and faculty director Dubai-London programs, London Business School in Dubai, UAE

  • Former deputy dean, London Business School.

  • Visiting professorships at Columbia University, Tuck School of Business

  • PhD, Business Administration, The University of Chicago

  • MSc in Engineering and MBA, Universities of Ghent and Leuven, Belgium

Today, The Independent published a profile on Degraeve which is worth a read because, in it, he talks about his plans for MBS:
“Business schools are big ships to turn,” comments Professor Zeger Degraeve. “Often it is a dean's successor who will enjoy the realisation of his or her long-term strategy.” Professor Degraeve, who will take up his initial four-year term as dean of Australia's Melbourne Business School (MBS) in September, is undaunted by the prospect that many benefits of his tenure will only mature after he has gone.

“My long-term strategies include fundraising, raising the profile of the school and ensuring that it achieves prominence on the global scene. Short-term I plan to re-think the MBA curriculum and develop the executive education programme.”

Sounds exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing how things at MBS change and get even better over the next few years.

AFR MBA Survey 2011 is Open for Alumni Input

BOSS Magazine LogoEvery two years the Australian Financial Review ranks Australia’s “top MBA programs” based on a survey of recent business school alumni and data from a questionnaire that’s filled out by the schools themselves.

They publish this ranking in BOSS Magazine and, in 2009, Melbourne Business School was ranked #1.

This year’s alumni survey is now open for input from business school graduates who completed their degrees within the last three years (i.e. 2008, 2009, and 2010 grads only). If you fit that category, please fill out the survey so that this year’s results reflect the most accurate opinions of recent Australian b-school grads.

The 2011 survey results will be published in the September issue of BOSS. Of course, I’ll blog about them when they come out, as well.

FYI: If you’re an MBS alumni and have any questions about the survey, get in touch with David Mitchell who is the alumni and community relations manager at MBS.

Melbourne at #45 in Global University Rankings by Reputation

Times Higher Education (THE) recently published their ‘2010-2011 World University Rankings’ and, in it, they have a new rankings based perceived reputation.

To build this Reputation Rankings they surveyed an invite-only list of over 13,000 academics from around the world. The opinion of those academics suggests that six universities (or ‘super brands’, as they are being called) have, by far, the best reputation. These are:

  1. Harvard University – 100.0%
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – 85.0%
  3. University of Cambridge – 80.7%
  4. University of California Berkeley – 74.7%
  5. Stanford University – 71.5%
  6. University of Oxford – 68.6%

The rest received a score of under 40%.

The University of Melbourne is the highest ranked Australian university (yaay!) and it comes in at a joint number 45 (along with the University of Edinburgh) with 6.5%.

Reputation matters quite a bit in academics but these rankings don’t come as a surprise (certainly not for the top 20 or so). Though, really, once you go below #9 or #12 on this list (both of which are followed by noticeable drops in percentage points) it doesn’t matter as much which university you are associated with. Unless you’re looking for rankings by subject or region, of course, in which case the picture might change a bit.

You can read more about these new reputation rankings here:

Things Looking Up for MBAs in Australia

I’ve been really busy at work these last few months which is why I haven’t blogged here much. Unfortunately, it’ll probably stay that way till early next year.

What’s prompted me to write today, however, is Penny McLeod who wrote in The Australian an article called ‘A Degree You Can Bank On: MBA’ – that says:

Australian companies are knocking down the doors of leading business schools to secure the best master of business administration graduates.

The article goes on to explain how demand for MBAs has increased in Australia this year. Further, this demand isn’t coming just from the financial sector but from other sectors as well (including, for example, utilities and not-for-profit organizations).

That’s great news because, in my opinion, the MBA is undervalued in Australia and I’m glad to see that perception change.

Courses at MBS - Core & Elective

Scott Arbeitman, who is nearing the end of his MBA at Melbourne Business School, has started writing a series of blog posts in which he’s reviewing his time there.

Last week he wrote about the core (i.e. mandatory) and elective (i.e. optional) courses offered during the MBA:

FYI: What I call ‘courses’ are called ‘subjects’ at MBS.

His posts make a great read for anyone who is doing, or thinking of doing, an MBA because the issues he’s talked about are relevant to pretty much all b-schools degrees out there.

(By the way, I wrote my end-of-MBA post almost two years ago. I didn’t realize it had been that long!)

Symonds on Creative MBA Programs

Matt Symonds recently wrote an article in Forbes called ‘How Creative MBA Programs are Overcoming Bad Times’ and, in it, he talks about Melbourne Business School (MBS):

If there is one thing the less well-known schools where M.B.A. applications are holding up have in common, it is an ability to offer something different.

Melbourne Business School, one of the leading institutions in the Asia-Pacific region, has also seen its latest M.B.A. class grow. Dean Jenny George seems to share Antal-Mokos' view that the secret may not be location, ranking or history but a unique underlying structural model. "We have the luxury of being what I'd term 'quasi-independent,'" she says. "We have a strong link to our local university, but at the same time as a corporate body we have free rein to do what we think is best. That means we have the credibility to attract really good faculty but can hire people who don't always fit the traditional, conventional picture of an academic. And that in turn means we can put together a learning experience that pulls in the very best students."

It’s a good article and I recommend you read it.

More about Symonds:

Gans on MBS-FEC Merger

Joshua Gans has written an excellent post on the proposed merger between Melbourne Business School (MBS) and the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Economics and Commerce (FEC) that didn't go through.

In it, he lists some of the factors that contributed to the merger being blocked; such as the differences in organizational culture, teaching culture, and industry engagement between the two schools.

He isn't as concerned about competition from the FEC as I am (more on this some other time) but, like me, he is very optimistic about MBS's future and place in Australia and the Australian education industry.

MBS-FEC Proposed Merger Will Not Proceed

In an interesting turn of events, Melbourne Business School (MBS) announced today that its proposed merger with the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Economics and Commerce (FEC) will not proceed. (Go here for background.)

Indeed, this won't even been put to vote at the 7 October Extraordinary General Meeting of MBS Ltd's members (read: shareholders) because the resolution is bound to fail. That's because enough members have already told the Board they will vote against the merger so there's no way the Board will get the majority needed to proceed.

Why Will Some Members Vote Against the Merger?

I'm not exactly sure because they haven't said.

I can speculate, though. Maybe they don't want to dilute MBS Ltd's focus (or brand) because, post merger, they would have had the added responsibility of managing the undergraduate economics and commerce programme. Maybe it's less about the lack of focus and more about sticking to what you know you're really good at (i.e. graduate-level teaching). Maybe they think the merger is good in theory but would be impossible to pull off in practice. Maybe it's lots of separate little issues that, collectively, become one big one. I don't know.

Regardless, the members are obviously not convinced that the merger is good idea and, since they have the deciding vote in the matter, it's been called off.

As MBS Chairman Ron McNeilly said:
"Ultimately the continued success of MBS depends on the support of its members, alumni, students, clients and the broader business community.  The Board has accepted that without the overwhelming support of these stakeholders, a merger at this time would not be in the best interests of the School."

Meanwhile, the University of Melbourne's Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis had this to say:
"Over time this will be judged a missed opportunity for the University and the MBS to create the strongest business school in our region."

That may be true and, who knows, the merger could still take place a year from now or three years from now. All we know is that it's not happening now.

What Next?

Both MBS and FEC will continue to operate they way they're operating now.

But, of course, they won't. They've just gone through a process in which they identified their gaps, overlaps, and opportunities for growth. Their conclusion was that they should work together and they went as far as to plan exactly how they'd do that. And now they've been told it's not going to happen. So, yeah, things won't go quite back to normal.

Meanwhile, the confusion in the market of whether you should do a masters in business from FEC or a masters in business administration from MBS will remain. Here's hoping they start by making things like that clearer because, if they don't sufficiently differentiate themselves from each other, the competition won't help anyone...least of all potential applicants to both institutions.

AFR BOSS Ranks MBS MBA at Number 1

The AFR’s BOSS magazine recently published the results of its biennial rankings of MBA schools in Australia:

I haven’t bought the magazine and read the detailed results myself yet but Manns’ article lists the top five schools as follows:

  1. Melbourne Business School (University of Melbourne)

  2. Monash University Graduate School of Business (Monash University)

  3. Macquarie Graduate School of Management (Macquarie University)

  4. Australian Graduate School of Management (University of New South Wales)

  5. University of Western Australia

The rest of the article was too painful to read online so I only skimmed through it and, therefore, have nothing further to say. Clearly they want us to go buy a copy of their magazine.

By the way, 22 business schools and 1,732 b-school alumni took part in the survey that these rankings are based on.

Catching Up

I haven’t been blogging much these last few months. That’s because three months ago my wife and I moved into an apartment that has no land line and only a satellite cable TV connection. (We didn’t think to ask about the former before moving in here because, really, when was the last time you heard of a house that didn’t have a land line connection?) What this means is that, till just recently, we didn’t have Internet access at home; certainly not cable and ADSL, but not even dialup!

What Happened Then?

It took Telstra (the only phone company that services this area) about six weeks (yes, six weeks) to give us a connection from the telephone exchange to our apartment building. However, we don’t have an outlet in the wall for a phone jack so we can’t actually use that line. Even worse, the electrician who came in to install that outlet couldn’t find where in the wall our telephone wire was so he wasn’t able to connect us. That was about a month ago and, since then, we’ve been waiting for our real estate agent to do something about this – specifically, getting the building plans from the owners and giving them to the electrician – but nothing’s happened yet.

I finally got sick of the situation so, a couple of weeks ago, I went and got us a mobile broadband connection from 3 (specifically, a USB wireless modem) and that’s what’s letting me access the Internet now. We then went a step further and bought a wireless router for the modem so now both my wife and I can access the Internet at the same time. It’s slow, but at least it works.

What about blogging from work, you ask? Unfortunately, work has been really busy (though incredibly enjoyable) so I haven’t had the mental energy to do any writing in the evenings (whether at work or offline from home). The only blog posts I have managed to finish are the ones I wrote on a weekend and published from the office the following work week.

So, Catching Up…

What all this is leading up to is the fact that I have lots of catching up to do. The way I’m going to do that is by giving you a bulleted list of all the stories I’ve wanted to talk about these last few months but haven’t been able to discuss. The stories range from basic, on-the-ground advice (and lists) to more high level discussions on a particular topic. They’re all good to read, though.

Jobs, Careers, & MBA

Social Media

Online Design, UI

Online Marketing

General Life Advice

MBS-FEC Merger Announced

UPDATE (1-Oct-09): This merger will no longer proceed. Details here. Also read Joshua Gans' post on this.

The last time I talked about the merger between Melbourne Business School and the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Economics and Commerce (FEC) the two schools had:

  • agreed in principle that were going to merge

  • started a consultation process to figure out how that would happen.

Since then, they have agreed on the proposed merger and are now waiting on approval from the Members of MBS Ltd – which is the not-for-profit organization that governs Melbourne Business School – before they can go on.

Announcements and News Reporting

This was announced by both MBS and Melbourne Uni:

And has also been discussed in the media:

Yes, the jobs angle was a funny one for The Age to take but I presume they did that because the timing of the merger announcement was unfortunate: Melbourne Uni had only just announced that they were going to cut 220 jobs because of the financial shortfall brought about by the global financial crisis.

Communicating the Plan

In order to give us stakeholders a chance to find out first-hand what was going on with the merger, MBS invited students and alumni for a Questions & Answers session with Acting Dean Jennifer George and Professor Richard Speed.

It was hugely encouraging to know that a session like this had been planned. Mergers are difficult times for both organizations and, during this period, it’s crucial to have this kind of stakeholder communication and engagement. And by ‘stakeholder’ I mean everyone involved in the organization so that includes employees, students, alumni, prospective students, faculty, academia, industry, government, accreditation organizations, suppliers, employers, partners, the media, and so on.

Further, this communication and engagement needs to be:

  • frequent

  • take place at all levels of the organization, and

  • discuss the issue to varying levels of depth depending on who you’re talking to and what’s important to that group of people.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what MBS is doing and this session was an excellent first step.

What was also good was the kind of session that Jenny and Richard ran: it was completely open, honest, and we could ask them anything we liked. They didn’t, of course, know the answers to all our questions – there are still numerous details to be worked out – but they did manage to cover all the important points.

What I liked most about the session, though, was the sense of excitement and realistic optimism that everyone seemed to have. This merger is an exciting opportunity and, though everyone knows it will be difficult and complicated to pull off, we are looking forward having a crack at it.

Details About the Merger

So what have we learnt so far about the proposed merger?

  • The organizational structure of the merged entity, called the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE), has been finalized:

MBS - Uni Melb Merger Org Chart

  • The main merging is taking place in the graduate space because undergraduate and executive degrees and courses will probably not change very much post-merger. How exactly the graduate space (i.e. degrees, courses, schedules, fees, classes, faculty, research, etc.) will change has yet to be finalized. Indeed, that space may continue to change and evolve over the next 2-3 years as things get tweaked and improved.

  • Academic oversight over all courses, subjects, and degrees offered by the FBE remains, of course, with the University of Melbourne.

  • The management of the FBE goes to MBS Ltd. In exchange, the University of Melbourne increases its stake in MBS Ltd from 45% to 70%.

  • MBS Ltd’s Board gets increased to thirteen members: eight nominated members (to be voted in), two university-appointed directors, one staff director, one alumni director, and one executive director.

  • The current Chair of the MBS Board, Ron McNeilly, continues in his role. The current Dean of the FEC, Professor Margaret Abernethy, becomes the inaugural Executive Dean of the new FBE.

  • Mt. Eliza Executive Education becomes Melbourne Executive Education. However, this is run by a wholly owned subsidiary of MBS Ltd (which I refer to in the chart as Melbourne Executive Education Ltd because I don’t know what it will be called). So, even though this is part of the FBE, it will be managed reasonably independently.

  • The new graduate program will be split into two streams. The pre-experience stream will be for students fresh out of an undergraduate degree (or with limited work experience). The post-experience stream will be for students with some work experience. The existing MBS MBA degree will come under the post-experience stream while some of the FEC’s existing masters degrees will come under the pre-experience stream.

  • Assuming the MBS Board approves this proposal, the FBE will officially come into being on 1 October 2009 with an aim for “full integration” by 1 January 2010.

As you can imagine, most of the synergies of this merger will occur in the graduate area where there are numerous win-win scenarios. For example, MBS students will get access to a wider range of electives while FEC students will get access to the specialist electives that only MBS offers.

What Next?

The next important date for the merger is 26 August, which is when Members of MBS Ltd will meet in an Extraordinary General Meeting to vote on the merger proposal. There is no real reason for the proposal to not be accepted but that is the last formal step that needs to be taken. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

Over the next few months, I hope to write more about this merger in particular and about mergers, cultural change, and stakeholder engagement in general. Stay tuned.

New MBS Blogger: Ed Cook

Ed Cook, who is both an MBA student and a Career Consultant at Melbourne Business School, has recently starting his own professional blog.

He’s only posted three entries so far but they’re all interesting and I’m sure that, over time, his blog will become a useful resource and place of discussion. It will be particularly useful for MBA students and graduates from Australian business schools.

I’ve also added Ed to my list of MBS Bloggers.

[Note: If you’re an MBS MBA student or alumnus, Ed’s entries are cross-posted on the internal Career Services blog as well so you can also choose to conduct your discussions – should you want to keep them semi-private – there instead.]

The MBS Deans’ Blog

Melbourne Business School continues to impress me with the way it is building its online presence because, last month, they started an internal Deans’ Blog.

The blog has three contributing authors:

  1. John Seybolt, Dean & Director
  2. Jennifer George, Associate Dean of Academic Programs
  3. Richard Speed, Associate Dean for Faculty Resources

And is hosted on the MBS intranet (so it’s not available to the public). The Deans write about things that MBS students, alumni, staff, and faculty are interested in, such as school-related news and events; commentary on current events; and discussions on things like school resources, exchange programs, alumni chapters, new faculty members, and so on.

Some of the posts are information dissemination type posts while others are more discussion oriented. Presumably, there is a communications strategy in place that will guide the blog’s growth over the next few months and, most likely, the intention is to continue publishing both kinds of posts: the kind that provide management-level information to the whole school (but don’t generate much of a discussion) and the kind that seed discussion among the blog’s readers (including the “what do you think?” type of posts that you see on many blogs).

All in all, this is an exciting new addition to MBS’ online presence. Hopefully, once this blog becomes a regular feature its authors will start itching to write an external blog as well – maybe even one like the long-running Dean Bruner’s Blog at the Darden School of Business – but that’ll probably take time. Writing an external blog is hard work and you really have to commit to the idea before getting into it. Which is why an internal blog such as this one is a great way to start.

Here’s hoping the blog grows really well and that both the authors and readers enjoy participating in it (I know I will).

Core Economics Becomes a Multi-Author Blog

Speaking of MBS blogs, Joshua Gans’ Core Economics blog has also gone multi-author with four of its nine authors hailing from Melbourne Business School. So, if you want to see what MBS professors are blogging about, take a look at that. They write on a lot of interesting topics and they have a really good readership as well.

Of course, no discussion of MBS professors who publish their work online would be complete without mentioning Paul Kerin who writes a regular business column for The Australian.