“The way we need to lead is different. Gone are the days where you can bring those authoritative and dictatorial approaches to solving complex problems.”
This is a core belief held by KPMG Director Scott Draper, who oversees the business education partnership between his company and Ducere Global Business School.
This partnership was integrated into Ducere’s MBA program, giving students the chance to work with KPMG on business projects that provide a real-world application to the theory delivered in the program.
Partnering with companies to add a dose of realism to an MBA program may not be a unique trait belonging to any one business school, but it is the approach and attitude to education that makes the partnership between Ducere and KPMG so valuable to its students.
Putting Draper’s aforementioned belief in leadership into practice, KPMG has in the past taken Ducere MBA students on a journey of organisational resilience and wellbeing, facilitating a course project that asked students to consider what it takes to future proof an organisation in times of uncertainty, change and disruption that is also affecting people in the workplace.
The project typically lasts for four months and involves KPMG, as the industry partner, treating MBA students like practicing business consultants who have been called in to help address a challenge the company may be facing. After a request for service and a project brief is made, the students and supervising academic sit down to meet with KPMG to discuss goals, outcomes and communication, before getting to work
“We are basically the client and the students will be acting as the consultants for the entire project, trying to generate an outcome based around our request for service,” Draper said.
“There is also real value because the project doesn’t involve a mock scenario. We look at things that are relevant to our firm or something that is happening in the market that is worth exploring.
“Students who take on the project get exposure to something they have previously not experienced before. They are stretched to think differently.
“We focus on organisational resilience and wellbeing because we believe that is a critical part of leading today – by future-proofing yourself against an uncertain world.”
Through the partnership, KPMG have also offered ‘transition’ programs to Ducere’s MBA students, which involve ethical changes in business models.
“For example, if a coal mining community transitions into green energy, then what does that look like for the community?” Draper said.
Ducere’s partnership projects have a clear intention that could potentially alter the course of the business world – nurturing MBA students to forget everything they may have previously known about business and leadership.
According to Draper, partnerships like the one between Ducere and KPMG are vital for teaching the next generation of leaders to take a different approach.
“In the context of solving complex problems, you need fresh perspectives and innovative minds,” he said.
“I think the more perspective you can bring to these challenges, the better, and greater the chance you’ll have to finding a more innovative solution to problems that are unclear.
“The more we can bring people together for fresh perspectives and try and explore patterns in what’s going on in a more united way, the greater chance we have for navigating complexity and increasing the probability of success.
“You’ve got to continuously challenge the status quo. I think the more we refrain from just diving in with that kind of approach, step back, explore the different patterns and perspectives and what all of the information means, the better off you’ll l be.”