Sitting in the corporate office of the Karachi School for Business and Leadership (KSBL), an upcoming graduate management school being established in the financial capital of Pakistan in collaboration with Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge, Dean Robert Wheeler III spoke at length as to why Karachi needed yet another business school.
“No doubt, IBA and LUMS are outstanding business schools. But the academia isn’t like a corporation, it’s not about winning or losing,” Wheeler told The Express Tribune in an interview. “Pakistan needs more top-level business schools, it needs more leaders.”
Having served at the Pennsylvania State University, University of Texas at Austin and Georgetown University in key positions like assistant dean and director of MBA programmes, Wheeler has been associated with KSBL for the past two years. Spread over three acres, a dedicated campus of KSBL is currently under construction on main Stadium Road in Karachi. The construction phase will be over in July 2012 and the first intake of students will be in September. Initially, KSBL will offer a full-time, 21-month MBA programme in general management only.
“Our emphasis is on ethical leadership. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about making difficult choices,” he said, adding that KSBL would make an extra effort to infuse students with social responsibility. “We’ll work with students to help them stay here in Pakistan after they graduate, to make them realise that they owe something to this society.”
The MBA curriculum has been designed in collaboration with Judge Business School. Besides conventional teaching methods involving lectures and case studies, KSBL will use videoconferencing to let its students attend live lectures from American and British universities.
“We’re wiring the entire building for videoconferencing so that CEOs from London, Singapore and the US could show up on videoconferencing,” he said, adding that the campus would benefit from natural light optimisation, as more than 70% of the rooms would have natural lighting.
Wheeler said the core faculty of KSBL would be of Pakistani origin with PhD degrees from foreign universities. “We’ll cut back on the administrative work that faculty is often required to do in Pakistan and encourage them to do applied research that could be used in the industry, government and business.” In many classes, especially those on entrepreneurship, Wheeler said more than one person would co-teach students via videoconferencing to provide them with a combination of academic and professional perspectives.
Referring to corporate entrepreneurship, or intrapreneurship meaning working like an entrepreneur within an organisation, Wheeler said the traditional role of an entrepreneur was changing, as big corporations were now looking for business graduates with entrepreneurial mindset.
As for the admission process at KSBL, he said prospective students would be judged on their GMAT scores, GPAs, essays and interview performance. “We’ll have a holistic approach. We want to produce team players, people who can get along with others. You need to fulfil certain requirements, but high scores only shouldn’t guarantee your admission.”
Rejecting the idea that working with the bureaucracy is particularly difficult in Pakistan, Wheeler said the United States was equally bureaucratic. “We’re right on track. Things are going well. The construction phase will be over in July.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2012.