Trainee Managers and the Management Education

Any system can be truly competitive only if it has a feedback loop with the external environment.

Cornelius Brody iQuest

This March, Conelius Brody, our iQuest Chairman of the Board, gave an interview to the Academic Management Society in Romania (SAMRO). In what follows, we would like to share his ideas with you:

SAMRO: Can a university form a good manager for the private sector? How much of the art of management is based on concepts and how much on direct experience?

Cornelius Brody: Yes, it can, but not by itself. Universities can offer students a good theoretical background, enriched by case studies. It cannot give them those direct and much needed experiences to become a good manager or leader. Leadership cannot be learned only from books or courses.

SAMRO: What proposals do you have to improve collaboration between universities and companies, so that graduates of management education programs can become more competitive on the market?

Cornelius Brody: The collaboration can be improved continuously on two directions: firstly, companies should take internship programs offered to students more seriously in order to complete the theoretical knowledge with practical aspects that are necessary for a professional. I can easily imagine partnerships between companies and universities, where companies teach the applied parts in universities (concrete projects, case studies). Secondly, universities could be more competitive. Any system can be truly competitive (good) only if it has a feedback loop with the external environment. A system without a feedback loop will run wild after some time. In the case of universities, I would like to see at some point a simple and transparent evaluation system for the universities’ performance (we can think about various criteria, like reputation, feedback from students about the university and the professors, the number of inventions and patents resulting from research activities etc.). Only then could we see what need for change there is in universities.

SAMO: Can management graduates directly take on leadership positions based only on the qualifications obtained during university? What are the steps to take for a graduate in order to get to the top of an organisation?

Cornelius Brody: Apart from a few exceptions, I would not recommend to take on leadership positions immediately after graduating. As I said before, forming a good leader requires a variety of qualities that cannot be learned only in theory: empathy, active listening, communication, understanding of a certain industry or of a certain field of activity, organizational change (change management) etc. In order for someone to reach the top of an organization, they require a lot of concrete experience in different areas of a business (I’m referring to already existing medium-sized and large companies). They have to acquire skills regarding strategy, organizational culture, finance and many more. Obviously, founding a start-up is the big exception from this rule. In these cases, the founder grows together with the company; if the market is favourable, if they are good and lucky, they will succeed.

SAMRO: How do you see the improvement of relationships between management schools and alumni?

Cornelius Brody: One idea would be for the management schools to constantly offer new learning opportunities: active communication with the alumni network, workshops, seminaries, white papers, research results, case studies.

SAMRO: What suggestions do you have for SAMRO to tighten the connection between theory and practice in management?

Cornelius Brody: Maybe starting a support program for entrepreneurs (assigned budget to winners + assigning experienced managers to the winning start-ups for a certain period). This could start an experience exchange toward the start-ups, and the managers (mentors) would benefit from a new and creative flow of ideas.

What is your perspective on how a manager is formed? Share your insights with us!

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