With several global business schools boasting decades of heritage, and some founded over a century ago, the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) was certainly a neophyte in the realm of business education when it opened its doors in 2000. A mere 19 years on, we are indeed heartened by the rate at which LKCSB has grown its reputation, becoming one of the top business schools in Asia — and the world.
In the Financial Times’ (FT) 2018 ranking of business schools in Asia-Pacific, LKCSB is positioned in sixth place, a jump from 13th position in 2017. Based on “the quality and breadth of the business school’s offerings’, the ranking took into account schools’ postgraduate programmes, including MBA, Executive MBA (EMBA), Masters in Management (MiM), customised and open-enrolment Executive Education programmes.
The School’s programmes have also emerged in top spots within global rankings, with the EMBA placing 22nd and MBA placing 43rd in FT’s 2018 and 2019 rankings respectively. These placings show the rigour of these programmes and the world-class competitiveness of the graduates they nurture.
While rankings should not be the only criteria upon which students use to select a school, SMU President Professor Lily Kong, in her Inaugural Address, suggested, "There are some good things that come out of rankings. They force us to look at ourselves, at what we’re doing, how well we’re are doing, who our competitors are."
Meeting the demands of today’s business world
The recent accolades are testament to the School’s ability to stay true to its core as a vibrant environment that nurtures high-quality graduates. Furthermore, they reflect the school’s unique positioning as an Asian educational institution with a distinctly globalised viewpoint.
Today’s business world knows no boundaries; international collaborations and working across cultures and functions are cornerstones of the current working environment.
Some 65 per cent of those enrolled in LKCSB’s MBA programme are international students, representing 34 countries across the globe, and working in a multitude of industries ranging from consulting to healthcare. Students enrolled in the EMBA programme are also exposed to international business environments in China, India and the US, through embarking on study trips with partner universities like the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; the Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. With immersion into multi-cultural environments within and outside the classroom, SMU graduates are fully primed to embrace a globalised world.
In preparing students for a changing environment, an all-rounded business education does not just equip them with management theories and concepts.
During the EMBA programme, contributing to society is heavily emphasised: students should strive to add value where they can. A key element of the curriculum is the “action learning” experience, where students carry out a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project. The opportunity to consider issues beyond a company’s top and bottom line while giving back to society is apt as students are groomed not only to become leaders of their companies, but leaders of society as well. This mindset serves well for students who want to excel, and reach beyond their own goals.
Staying ahead of the curve
And thrive, SMU graduates do. Their relevancy and ability to match and even exceed demands in a competitive landscape gives LKCSB graduates an edge over the crowd, allowing them to command higher salaries. In fact, graduates of the EMBA programme see an average pay increase of over 40 per cent three years upon graduation. The facts make it clear – an SMU education prepares students for the future.
As a metric for success, rankings can indicate how well an institution is performing in terms of the calibre of its curriculum and students. Comparison of ratings over time can show if, and how, the school is keeping up with the landscape that it sends its graduates into.
In the words of Professor Gerard George, Dean of LKCSB and Lee Kong Chian Chair Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, “Our rankings reflect our commitment to preparing students with right skills, knowledge and networks to succeed in Asia’s growing and dynamic business environment.”
Where to from here? What is certain is that LKCSB is constantly evolving to stay relevant and on top of trends.
The EMBA curriculum, for example, was designed with contributions from over 100 business professionals in Asia, making the programme highly relevant and practical for gaining headway into industries. Moving in this direction, the programmes need to be agile, and constantly updated to ensure that students are well-prepared for what may come in the future.
Professor Shantanu Bhattacharya, Academic Director of the SMU EMBA programme explained the key point of difference with an SMU EMBA graduate: “These are leaders of society, and SMU has a role in developing them towards these leadership roles. And we are just starting.”