Education in Times of Uncertainty and Volatility

Friday, November 20, 2020

Professor of Management Jaime Alonso Gomez
begin quoteAccording to Dr. Gómez, the basic formula for successful learning is to have excellent students, intellectually stimulating faculty, and state of the art academic programs.

Currently, business schools live a unique experience in their history, so International MBA spoke with Dr. Jaime Alonso Gómez, professor of management and former Dean, University of San Diego School of Business, an expert in strategy and international management.

Impact on business schools

Without a doubt, COVID19 has had a tremendous impact across all manifestations of human activity. In this particular interview we are going to focus on COVID19’s impact on business schools. We were able to contact Dr. Jaime Alonso Gómez our frequent collaborator and whose expertise derives from working and/or consulting with more than 100 organizations across all continents.

Jaime Alonso, in his concrete and concise ways of communicating, shares with us that business schools have proactively responded in five inter-related ways:

a. Keeping faculty and staff safe and healthy (especially those who are high risk)
b. Keeping students and campus visitors safe and healthy
c. Assuring that academic activities migrate to contact free (mostly online) learning process
d. Assuring financial sustainability (tuition and other forms of revenue)
e. Configuring a rapid, systemic and action oriented decision-making group in order to monitor external and internal conditions that might impact the four prior factors.

Business schools that endure

Some situations emerging out of this pandemic have produced negative impacts on tuition dependent institutions such as a decrease in student enrollment in general (between 3% and 11% on average) and a drop in international students (visas for students going to American institutions were not issued or international traveling became prohibited by some governments).

However, Professor Gomez mentions that the most creative and agile schools moved quickly into: a) generating additional sources of revenue including non-degree short courses and certificates focusing on the new skills and capabilities required by the new business context (see last paragraph), b) migrating MBA and other graduate programs to virtual-online format, others something hybrid, and of course, there are some that still resist the change waiting for the situation to return to normal. In this sense, Professor Gómez is very clear about it: “Successful and resilient Business schools do not wait for the future to come to them, nor do they adapt to the environment, leading schools forge their futures and define their operations not from fear and denial (of COVID19), they define their operation from a positive and visionary attitude, calculated risk and strategic bets. The best way to get to a new normal situation is to build it.”

An MBA in times of Covid19
Some MBA candidates decided to postpone their enrollment, waiting for a better time, but for Jaime Alonso this is the best time to do it: “In the context of COVID19, learning the new behaviors of markets and consumers, developing new skills and knowledge, understanding the emerging phenomena with a new lens and rapidly making market oriented decisions cannot wait Successful professionals shape their future, place their strategic bets, take risks and focus on the flawless execution of their future plans, they are true “change makers,” he told us.
Studying an MBA program, face-to-face or virtual? Some have doubts about the quality of a virtual program, but what makes a program successful and of quality is not the format. According to Dr. Gómez, the basic formula for successful learning is to have excellent students, intellectually stimulating faculty, and state of the art academic programs. For him, the selection of a particular format (in the COVID19 era) implies the consideration of many factors, including technology, self-discipline, balance of work and family and a positive attitude about the “new normal.”

Skills needed for these times

Companies have also been affected by this pandemic, and in that sense, they need talented managers with new skills and knowledge that business schools must take into account in their MBA programs. In this regard, Professor Gómez tells us that: “Given the situation in the world, the most valued skills to develop in MBA students ought to be: rapid design capabilities, ability to make the complex simple, management of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty , complexity and ambiguity), execution of strategy in terms of viability and feasibility (optimization does not exist in organizations that are going through VUCA environments), sense of urgency and agility, and ensuring that the final result of the organization includes people, planet, profit, peace. and prosperity: the penta-bottom line approach to business enterprise.


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658