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KAIST’s MBA Program Helps Cultivate Business Leadership2003-07-11Hit:9093


By Seo Jee-yeon Staff Reporter Despite the economic slump, demand for master of business administration (MBA) degrees has been increasing as leading Korean firms aren’t holding back from investing in talent to promote their core business. Samsung, Korea’s largest conglomerate, recently announced it would recruit 1,000 MBAs per year beginning next year through local and global resources to expand its talent pool of individuals who can work in an international setting. LG, the nation’s second largest business group, also put 27 managers through the executive MBA program at Washington State University in Seattle this year. Why all the demand for MBAs? ``In my view, the popularity of MBAs at the moment is partly because it is a globally recognized education program enabling working professionals to develop business leadership that Korean employees have little chance to learn culturally,’’ said Park Sung-Joo, dean of the Graduate School of Management of the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST), during an interview with The Korea Times. According to Park, Korean business leaders have enough knowledge in their areas but lack soft skills such as business etiquette and effective communication in an international setting. ``Global business leaders must have not only hard but soft skills. The MBA is an effective program to develop both skills in a single package,’’ he said. ``A successful business leader is often gifted. However, a good leader can be cultivated through education and experience,’’ he added. When asked if foreign MBA programs are much better than domestic programs to develop business leadership, he said it depends on each case. ``I encourage working professionals to enroll in any one of the top ten business schools in the United States or Europe. In the case of foreign business schools with little reputation, I often advise applicants to look for local quality programs, especially when considering the cost,’’ Park said. The top ten global MBA programs are three times more expensive than the average Korean program. In terms of employment opportunities for foreign and domestic MBAs, graduates from quality Korean programs have a competitive edge. The employment rate for the class of 2002 at KAIST’s School of Management (KSGM) was 98 percent, while only 60 percent of Harvard Business School graduates have found jobs due to the prolonged economic slump in the U.S. In Korea, several universities, including KAIST, Yonsei University and Sungkyunkwan University, run full-time graduate MBA programs. Among them, KGSM has built a strong reputation in Asia, placing it seventh among Asia’s best MBA programs in 2000. It offers a general MBA it calls techno-MBA and four specialized MBA programs _ MIS-MBA, financial engineering-MBA, telecom-MBA and green-MBA. ``In particular, taking the benchmark of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, our flagship MBA program techno-MBA aims to cultivate business leadership for working professionals armed with traditional management practices and an understanding of technology,’’ Park said. ``In a technology-driven era, I believe the understanding of technology is essential to management. In this regard, our unique techno-MBA program will be able to meet the needs of those who want to be global business leaders.’’ Initiated in March 1995, the techno-MBA program was the first of its kind in Korea, educating managers in both managerial principles and technology issues in order to deal with the future management environment. One of Park’s long-term goals is to make KSGM’s MBA programs globally competitive. ``The past decade was the time to develop inner competitiveness. Our school plans to drum up the globalization of the school over the next decade,’’ the KSGM dean said. For that purpose, the school will expand its international exchange programs and hire foreign professionals this year to increase the number of English lectures. ``We also have completed the process to receive a certificate as a globally recognized management school and I am sure our school will have no difficulty gaining it within this year.’’ Park said. ``As demand for local MBA programs is growing, I expect the number MBA programs will increase. However, the speed of adopting the international-style graduate MBA programs might not be radical because the structure of Korean universities focuses on undergraduates. The key for success of local programs will depend on program quality control,’’ he predicts. So far, a few of top higher learning institutes, including Seoul National University and Korea University, are closely eyeing the introduction of full-time western-style MBA programs in the near future, either independently or through partnership with top U.S. business schools. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education currently announced the government will expand investment in professional graduate schools like law schools and business schools in the U.S by 2005, while reducing focus on undergraduate educations. jyseo@koreatimes.co.kr
Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )
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