Dr Boojihawon, Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Programme Director for the Online MSc International Business, Birmingham Business School, explains the what makes his programme unique. Listen to his podcast and read the transcribed interview below:
Interviewer: The question is phrased as ‘[W]hat roles would an individual with international business skills typically perform?’ – which I would still like to cover but I wonder if we can turn it round and if someone takes your course and has those skills, what opportunities are open for them? What areas could they work in? What could they achieve?
Ok, so our formation is really around developing this general international business manager. Because I think that with the right mindset, skills and knowledge, the business manager that comes out of our programme can find they fit anywhere.
So we are not very much industry driven or country driven in that respect – that’s important to know. They can find a role in a multi-national company in a given division or they can find the role of a business manager in a small or medium sized company in a different country altogether. So, it’s really a question for that. The roles could be anywhere really, for that matter.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a bit about the programme facilitators and their experience?
The way the programme is structured is that all the modules in the programme are core. So, all the subject areas are compulsory for the students to follow through. So, you’ve got a year one progression and a year two progression until they do their dissertation and they graduate.
The structure is essentially around the different subject areas in that what we are doing is we are exposing students to the areas of marketing, to the areas of HRM, to the areas of strategy, to the areas of international business itself and operations.
All of these subject lenses sort of bring different perspectives from lone scholars within the University. So, they are colleagues, they are researchers, they are prominent scholars in their own fields, and they are down to really talk about their subject areas from their own experience, from their knowledge and from their own research that they have been doing.
So, they are subject specialists and it doesn’t stop there. It doesn’t stop there - these are the academic facilitators in that respect. In order to enable that we also team them up with tutors who are the main module facilitators in each of the modules. Those tutors come from an industry background. They are subject generalists, but they come with a wealth of professional experience.
We take good care in terms of appointing them as much as we can so that they bring this blend of academic and practical experience together into the formation.
This is unheard of in other master’s programmes that I know of because it’s primarily, you’ll find MBA which are structured like that. That’s where we’re starting and that’s why we’re recognised by AMBA because our programme is set up with this practical emphasis as well, in terms of its structure. So, the facilitators are both academics and practitioners as well.
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Interviewer: Different teaching styles and how do these help the participants on the course build a strong business set? Is there anything we can do around that?
So, I can be a bit more specific in terms of how we do the teaching, for example, in that respect. The different subject specialists, who are integral in developing the module ideas or the content ideas, in thinking about the broader context of IB with respect to the subjects:
A lot of the teaching is carefully pouched in very clever ways around the content – or key messages – or key lessons that those subject specialists want to drive throughout the journey that the student will be exposing himself or herself.
Now within those – and therefore - it’s all about taking different issues (there could be academic issues or practical issues) and doing some activities around them or having a conversation around them and helping the thinking through. So, what we have is a mixture of different teaching styles there.
We do expect the student to study on his or her own for a good period of time, but at the same time, we draw them into activities where they will be discussing and sharing their views on certain issues that we will have asked them to contribute towards – to think about.
We would then, therefore, have live interactive sessions with them as well, where the tutors and the module leaders also will come together to actually discuss and deliberate about the different views on these ideas. We also then, therefore, will back them up by setting them challenges and assignments where those knowledge and skills, which have been developed, are being tested in that way.
So, the teaching styles are quite varied, in a way. You might find these teaching styles anywhere – in some ways – but the way we do it, is where the uniqueness lies.
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