As I outlined in my Three Part MBA Philanthropy Series, alumni are a critical financial component to business schools. However, alumni can contribute in many other ways. In addition to providing financial support to their alma mater, alumni also play an equally important role in pre-student recruiting and job placement.
Why is pre-student recruiting important? Today, business schools are facing both intense competition and demanding customers. These forces tend to drive up the cost of student acquisition and retention. MBA programs are indeed influenced by their stakeholders. More and more, the student is being treated as a customer, and student and alumni satisfaction have become key metrics to school rankings. At the same time, the student is also a product. Student seats are a perishable resource just like airline seats or hotel rooms. Once the school term starts, an unfilled seat equates to lost revenue.
Therefore, to increase student acquisition, we must expand our global reach. One way to do this is through strategic business partnerships with international schools. These partnerships will expand Graziadio’s global educational opportunities, enhance our brand, leverage complementary strengths, and increase flexibility and convenience for students.
Management education alliances, among other things, provide the vehicle for the virtual exchange of both students and faculty. Imagine a situation where a student is looking for an elective, but it is not being offered at their home institution at a convenient time or place. The student could instead register at a partner school that is offering a similar course. The same could apply to the faculty.
For example, in Fall 2010, I took a special residential offering at the West LA Graduate Campus called Managing Business with China. This course, among other things, allowed me to connect with reputable faculty and speakers from China that I would not have been able to do so otherwise because of time demands from work. Similar initiatives will spur increasing opportunities for connecting graduates to the global business community.
Recent data show that management education is currently undergoing a paradigm shift from a teacher-centric process to a learning-centric environment that focuses on customized learning. This transformation is being fueled by the need to produce educated leaders that can compete on a global basis.
As alumni, our degree is what we make of it. We are called to contribute to Graziadio’s legacy in terms of our time, talent, and treasure not only to merely increase our own degree’s ROI, but also so that this legacy can continue for future generations. In order to impact our MBA ROI, we must remain competitive, and in order to remain competitive, we must reach a global audience. This will allow us to attract the most talented students, translating into huge, quantum leaps in impact AND financial support for Graziadio.
Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it’s getting. If we don’t like our results, it implies we must change the design. It’s time to follow the data and change the design.