New University Of Sydney Business School MBA A Jolt To “Dead” Program

The traditional MBA is dead, according to the University of Sydney Business School.

The University of Sydney Business School believes it has created a new-age MBA program that will resurrect the discipline for the evolving modern business climate.

Declaring “the traditional MBA is dead”, the business school will seek to recruit a highly diverse student cohort for its new full-time MBA program, whose aim is to not only pass on high-level business knowledge to those eager to advance themselves in the professional world, but to take students and craft new beings who will shape the professional world around them.

Sydney Business School MBA Director Professor Guy Ford said that in order to thrive in an increasingly complex world, students need to be offered more than standard MBA business oriented units of study. 

“For a very long time, traditional MBA programs have tended to offer little more than modularised doses of business knowledge covering topics such as accounting, economics, management and statistics, to name a few,” Professor Ford said.

Guy Ford (MBA Program Director).

“This approach is becoming less relevant in an increasingly complex and volatile world, where business models are changing rapidly.

“To thrive in this world, business leaders need skills that equip them to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty.

“To do this, our program focuses on developing skills around creativity, critical analysis and a systems approach to problem solving.

“We also work to develop the personal and interpersonal skills needed to lead effectively,” he said.

The new program will be limited to 50 students per semester, who will go on to develop leadership skills appropriate to the economically dynamic Asia Pacific Region. 

Professor Ford said that 50 ensured diversity while still allowing for a tailored learning experience and extensive experiential learning.

“While many schools proudly boast the large size of their programs, the fact is that with big numbers you’ve got little choice but to use traditional teaching/lecture formats,” he said.

“This leaves little room for genuine experiential learning.”

Sydney Business School Dean Professor Greg Whitwell said they were aware that MBA education was a very crowded field, but is also one in which there is too much “sameness”.

“This full-time MBA is symbolic of what we believe a business school should be doing in an era characterised by extraordinary changes in the scale, scope and complexity of forces such as digital technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, the peer-to-peer economy, and historically unprecedented demographic shifts,” he said.

“Students should be encouraged to ask questions about the roles and responsibilities of business and to explore ways in which business can be part of the solution to problems such as sustainability, climate change and poverty.

“Too many MBAs fail to raise questions such as what am I trying to achieve? What kind of difference do I want to make? And what kind of organization – with what kind of values and with what higher purpose – do I want to work for?” he said. 

“We want to give our students not only the ability to respond to change but to be change agents.” 

Professor Whitwell said the new MBA program will be industry oriented and leadership focused, producing a new generation of creative business leaders with new skills, greater confidence and international experience to deliver results on a complex global stage.

The business school’s proposed MBA program was welcomed by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), which represents the interests of more than 60 thousand businesses employing over a million staff. 

“In the face of rapidly changing economic needs, the workforce increasingly requires higher order skills including creativity, critical analysis, problem solving and advanced communication skills. This is exactly what this new MBA program will tackle” Ai Group CEO Innes Willox said.

The MBA program will begin in the second half of next year and run alongside the school’s part time MBA which was launched in 2013.

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (