Business studies: Business school looks to scale international heights with Cambridge university’s backing

Karachi School of Business and Leadership to build new campus.

Samia Saleem August 25, 2011

KARACHI: Despite the presence of top universities such as the Institute of Business Administration and Lahore University of Management Sciences, the dean of a new business school still claims that business education is still “virgin territory” in Pakistan.

“There is hardly any research done on businesses in Pakistan,” argues F. Robert Wheeler, who is the Dean of the newly established Karachi School of Business and Leadership (KSBL). “Such research cannot only give students an insight into the trends here, but can also be used to the advancement of local markets.”

Wheeler has been working on KSBL for the past two years, a project that boasts world-class accreditation. Right now, KSBL’s city campus is under construction and is being designed by the internationally renowned William McDonough + Partners. The plans include two campuses - one opposite Aga Khan University Hospital and Liaquat National Hospital and the main campus at the outskirts of Karachi.

What KSBL claims gives it an edge over other business schools is its sponsoring body, the Karachi Education Initiative, that has a collaboration agreement with the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. Since 2008, Cambridge has played a key role in setting up the school. The university has appointed the Dean and set up faculty recruitment and development, curriculum design and teaching methodology, technology support and research development.

The executive education classes that were launched in May 2010 are taught by teachers from Cambridge University. The collaboration hopes to deliver a functioning business school replete with executive development programmes, a full-time Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programme and a working professional MBA programme. While executive development programmes have already started, the full-time MBA will start in September 2012 and the Working Professional MBA Programme by 2014.

Meanwhile, Wheeler says that the country’s political and economic conditions and uncertainty have only strengthened his belief in the need to promote business research. “Pakistan needs leaders in management and educating management leaders is the key to political and economic stability,” he said. He explained that the word ‘leadership’ had been included in the school’s name for this very reason. “This need is what makes a world class institution more important for a city that is constantly losing [out because of] the problems in the country.” Wheeler’s vision, and that of his school, “is to give local, national and multinational companies and entrepreneurs in Pakistan access to the best business minds in the world”.

Erum Shakir Rahim, the director of marketing and business development at GlaxoSmithKline Pakistan Limited, is one person who attended a course, ‘Creating and Sustaining Competitive Advantage’ and found it to be a very “refreshing experience”. It was led by the same faculty who have taught this course internationally and they brought with them a “wealth of knowledge and the best practices”.

The Dean has a grand plan that includes bringing in more international professors to his classrooms. “We will break the term into seven weeks instead of 14 and the faculty members may even team-teach,” he said enthusiastically. His plan? To give the teachers such a good teaching environment and experience that even if they cannot be persuaded to stay, they will recommend the school, and teaching in Pakistan, to others. He had more to add; “CEOs from England, Europe, the US and other countries will talk to our students and we will make sure that the curriculum includes the most advanced developments. Our focus will mainly be on research in business.”

He also wants the students to be taught business ethics as a part of his plan to groom them for responsibility as future leaders. Wheeler believes that with all this in place, attracting the cream of business students from across the country and developing an international reputation is very possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th,  2011.

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