A growing number of MBA programmes may be zeroing in on specific facets of business, from marketing to finance, and China business to technology. However, few are like the Henley Business School, which focuses on teaching the importance of upholding the "moral high ground" in business.
"Morality and ethics are not just modules in the MBA. They are at the heart of what Henley stands for," says Neil Logan, director of international business at the Henley Business School. "We aim to develop each person as a true leader of business who can look to apply what we have taught immediately. The ethical fibre is very strong in our alumni."
The SCMP/Henley MBA Scholarship programme offers two executives in Hong Kong a unique opportunity to experience an MBA programme with a difference. It is a programme that goes well beyond the theoretical and academic side of business.
"The MBA is very contemporary. It isn't just an MBA for people who need the letters behind their name. At Henley, we really look at the quality of the person. We believe leadership and management is as much about the character of the manager as it is about their competency and knowledge," he says.
Mark Sharp, who started the course last year as one of two SCMP/Henley MBA Scholarship winners, was surprised at just how far the programme takes personal development.
"The personal development module forces you to 'unpack' your life. It tells you, in a systematic way, where you are at; identifies what makes you tick, the direction you are going in and helps you to think about where you want to go. It is a bizarre process, but it really makes you think about your life and work," says Sharp, a senior investigator at the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The theme of self-reflection is one that runs throughout the programme, Logan adds, with the aim of changing the way you think, the way you go about your work, and, ultimately, helps you to approach things differently.
The three-year, part-time programme is split into three stages. The first two comprise workshops and examinations focusing on modules that look internally at an organisation, such as managing people and business processes before moving on to topics such as finance, strategic marketing, strategy, corporate governance and financial structure. The learning is tied together by a management challenge in the third stage; an investigative piece of work which requires students to analyse their own organisations.
"The MBA offers real benefits to employers and they don't have to wait until the end of the programme for it. It begins with the first assignment in which students are asked to analyse their own businesses. The assignments point the student back to their own business and the value flows right back to the company," Logan says.
That is certainly what Vivien Lau, business development manager at Jardine Airport Services, has found. "Prior to the course, I would focus on looking at investment opportunities from my own perspective, but the Henley programme has made me challenge my views. I now see things more broadly," she says.
What distinguishes the programme from other MBAs is that not only is Henley one of a few business schools holding triple accreditation status from major British, European and United States bodies - the Association of MBAs, European Quality Improvement System and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools - but also its focus on practical issues. Students learn as much from case studies and faculty members as they do from others. In his study group, Sharp found classmates from all walks of life, from an engineer based in Shanghai to a forestry manager from Malaysia, an IT systems specialist, and Lau who says: "Being able to work with so many people from different nationalities has given me the opportunity to learn from their experiences. I am asking myself how I can do things better."
How to apply
Two scholarships to be offered; each with a value of HK$215,000
Includes one trip to the Henley Business School in Britain
Applicants need to have a minimum of three years of managerial experience
Highly motivated candidates need to demonstrate how they plan to use the MBA