The premier MBA

IN many professional fields, individuals understand their areas of expertise but what they don't understand is the nuts and bolts to run an office, how things work, how to put together a marketing plan, the essence of strategy and how to do a proper analysis.

And when it comes to management, they don't understand how to motivate people and how to communicate – and these are elements you not only need to understand, but bring together when it comes to business.

"The whole intent of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is to make you a well-rounded generalist, one who can be plugged into a variety of different positions and be well positioned to advance in whatever the mission may be because you understand the fundamentals," said Sunway University Business School Dean, Prof Steve Williams.

"An MBA is meant for people who do not have a business background. It gives you what you need in order to start your own business or run a business regardless of the background," he added.

There are three things that make the MBA highly desirable. First is the partnership with Lancaster University, UK where graduates receive two certificates; one from Sunway and one from Lancaster. Second, is location as Sunway is somewhat easier to get to than if it was located in Kuala Lumpur, and students will have no trouble with parking. Third, is it is a part time programme which works around the schedules of those who are currently employed.

"Ours is a premier MBA in Malaysia, but that doesn't mean it can't be made better. One of the things we are doing is working in partnership with Lancaster to revise our curriculum based on what we have heard from our students, the market and so forth," Williams said.

The current MBA takes 47 credit hours and they are able to reconfigure it in conjunction with Lancaster who are also changing their MBA. The credit hours will be decreased to 40 hours which is the minimum allowed in Malaysia.

"We also listened to our students and they said the current MBA has a dissertation component which is somewhat daunting for many returning students who haven't been to university for awhile. It will be revised to practice orientated where it will be a business project.

"Not only can they work in teams as opposed to individuals, they can work on a research project that may benefit their current business and therefore, learn the skills related to that. They get a more practical application that is more valuable, more so than a dissertation which is primarily theoretical," Williams said.

Some individuals would also like to specialise, and they will have the option to do three areas within a specialisation. For example, if the individual has a particular interest in finance, he or she might take marketing, entrepreneurship and construction project management. There will be a host of different areas for students to get a specialisation which tailors their postgraduate experience to their needs.

"Another thing is the international component. Lancaster has a number of partnerships in India, Ghana and recently, China. Our partnership is the strongest by far and we plan to have a concentrated international experience where students from the different partnerships can go for an extended period.

"Not only will it be international being at a foreign destination, but the composition of all the different students; all coming together in an international setting," Williams said.

He added that they will be utilising blended learning to some extent. Their students want to have the expertise from face-to-face, but they would also like some convenience as they are working adults. For example, making some electives available online and having some elements be delivered online. With this approach, they are also able to tap into the international partners.

"We are optimistically targeting for this to be available by August 2017, but more likely by January 2018. The good news is the wheels are turning. We have adjusted the MBA to make it what we think is a better product to meet the needs of both industry and students. Our students are excited about it and I anticipate it to continue to be the premier MBA in Malaysia," Williams said.