MBA Perspective

BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."

BY KIM MOORE

0215 powerlist01 500pxRobin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."

How we stay relevant

Our faculty are active, scholarly researchers. They research the current business environment in their field, and they interact with other scholars to ensure the content in their classes is the very latest information. We have advisory boards in specific areas, like operations and technology management, or in finance. We also have advisory boards in the Bay Area, in Seattle and in Portland. Through these business leaders, we are continually looking for the very latest trends and business information we can provide.

New trends in business leadership

The biggest is in our operations and technology management degree. We put together nine CIOs from some of the largest organizations in the Portland community with our faculty. They merged information systems, operations and logistics into a degree  — a Master of Science in operations and technology management. It goes way beyond business analytics because it is not just about collecting data; it is about how to use data for forecasting, and how you utilize data once you have made the forecasting.

Why nonprofit leadership is so popular with MBA students

That form of business organization has for a long time provided solutions for societal problems. Only recently have we looked at nonprofits in the same way as we look at for-profit businesses in terms of the leadership skills, the visionary skills and the marketing skills. These are very complementary to the skills you need at a for-profit organization.

Whether more graduates want to become entrepreneurs than in the past

If you are looking at new-venture formation, this is not necessarily the case, as that has been popular for a while. But if you look at how you implement innovation within organizations, that is a rapidly growing area. To be able to understand innovation, to be able to implement new creative ideas — that is a critical skill set for graduates.

Popular industry sectors for graduates

The president of Audigy Group is one of our MBA graduates. It is a fast-growth business with many employees. We also have one of our MBA graduates in a joint program with some students at OHSU — they set up a medical-related company. They just raised another quarter-million dollars. The brewery industry is another sector where we have people engaged.

61%

of U.S. two-year MBA
programs reported
application growth in 2014

60%

of one-year MBA
programs reported a
decline in applications

Source: GMAC's 2014
Application Trend Survey

How leadership skills have changed over the past 20 years

What companies are looking for is someone who can take a problem where the information is ambiguous, form a team that is composed of people from several countries, and lead this team in coming up with a creative solution to the problem. You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity, leading in a global context and leading with incomplete information.

Purpose of the sustainability emphasis in MBA program

An organization in the 21st century needs to not just look at economic viability but also environmental and social viability. One of our core values is social responsibility and ethics. We want to help develop leaders who are able to be very successful in the business world, and do it in a way that is both socially and environmentally responsible. The important thing about sustainability is that businesses will be the ones that take the leadership in being able to move us toward a more sustainable society.

The competitive MBA environment

The environment is very competitive. Some of that has to do with demographics and the number of programs available. Also, students have many formats where they can get an MBA. We offer a high-quality MBA program that has a high interaction between the faculty and the students. We also focus on the ability for students to customize their MBA program in terms of determining what concentration area they want to focus on, and designing their MBA to maximize their career objectives. An MBA program needs to understand what it is about and the value it adds. We add a values-based program that provides convenience but also the highest quality in a face-to-face format.

How the recession has impacted enrollment

People believe MBA enrollment grows in a recession. But that is not always the case. This recession caused people to pause in terms of their confidence in where business was going. Now confidence in businesses has grown again. People are recognizing again the value an MBA can bring in building organizations. As the business economy continues to grow, it is growing in such a way that people are looking at social responsibility: You want to do it well, but also do it right. Some of the things that happened previous to the recession — people look at that and are saying that is not how we want businesses to work.

Click through to see an abridged power list ranking Oregon's MBA Programs by total enrollment.


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Kim Moore

Kim Moore is the editor for Oregon Business magazine.

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