Inside an MBA: All you need to know about the courses and the benefits

01 March 2017 -


Insights spoke to Polina Baranova from the University of Derby to find out what makes a good MBA and what skills you can learn and benefit from by enrolling on your own course

1. What do students who study an MBA go on to do?

The University of Derby MBA Global programme is designed to equip our graduates with the skills and competences in management to pursue various career pathways – from successfully entering the supervisor management level positions at leading international companies to a high profile public sector organisation, or even setting their own business and competing in various domestic and international markets, to pursuing a scholarly career.

We are extremely fortunate to be located in the city of Derby, whose manufacturing, engineering and innovative heritage is world renowned.

As part of the programme, we work closely with leading companies in the region and as such provide an excellent opportunity for our students to learn from the best, but also to be noticed by the perspective employers in the region and further afield.

2. How do you adapt the course in line with what’s happening in the sector?

Our MBA is the only higher education programme currently available in the UK that has the CMI accreditation. The programme team works closely with the CMI to deliver an academically rigorous, agile and professionally relevant programme.

Our work with CMI provides our students with an excellent opportunity of being part of the growing network of professional manages and engaging with a programme of events which is reflective of the cutting-edge topics and issues debated by the managers around the world.

Our collaborative approach to enhancing the management capabilities of students is the hallmark of the programme as well as the assurance of its high relevance to the management practice.

3. What tips do you give to students so they can get ahead in their career?

There are some tips that are relevant across a variety of contexts: work hard, engage with various networks to advance your personal and professional development, and be strategic.

Work hard – the best global companies are looking to work with the best talent they can attract. Talent development is an art in its own right, but hard work goes a long way to develop your skills and competences that would allow you to earn credibility as a manager.

Engage with networks – understand which networks are important to be a part of to advance your learning, social capital and professional development and be skilful in drawing on these networks.

Be strategic – this personal competence is often associated with a number of qualities: strategic thinking, industry/sector/market specific insights, intuition, ability to ‘read situations well’ and a long-term perspective.

These are not readily available and need to be developed carefully throughout your professional career. Exposure and ability to deal with and manage complex and challenging scenarios goes a long way towards the development of the personal strategic competences.

4. What sets a great MBA course apart from the others?

In my view, a great MBA course has the following features:

  • Innovative and high quality programme design and delivery
  • Relevance to the study of management and the management practice
  • Strong MBA cohort identity
  • An environment that enthuses inclusivity, personal mastery and ingenuity

5. What should students look for when applying to MBA courses?

All of the above features, some of which are not necessarily visible on a university webpage or in a programme’s prospectus.

If you have an opportunity, please attend the postgraduate open days/evenings to get a feel of the business school, which hosts the MBA programme you are interested in, and speak to the MBA Programme Leaders and the programme teams. To book onto one of our postgraduate open events, go to:

6. What key skills should all MBA students have?

The ability of ‘being fluent in Global’ is one of the key competences of the MBA students of the future. This requires an MBA programme to provide an academic and a practice-based platform to develop management and leadership competences in order to succeed in global markets.

I believe that managing and leading organisations operating in global markets requires a unique set of capabilities, including ‘cultural fluency’, a ‘global’ mind set, ability to perform in often rather fast-changing and unpredictable environments, among many others.

Management education fit for the future has to provide an environment where these competences are harnessed and energised.

7. How does our academics expertise and industry knowledge benefit students?

In a multitude of ways, from personal and professional development and learning to being part of the global network of MBA graduates. Our expertise goes a long way towards preparing our students to be managers and leaders who are exceptional at creating and responding to emerging opportunities.

Over the next few years, the biggest opportunities for global business will come from addressing the sustainability challenge and responding to the raising demand for ‘green’ products and services.

Customers across the global markets are increasingly becoming aware of the environmental impact that businesses have and their role in acting on climate change.

Markets and governments increasingly demand businesses to engage in sustainable business practices and to work with their suppliers, communities, employees, business partners and many others to support decarbonisation efforts.

For businesses, such demands and market trends present an opportunity to develop innovative solutions and technologies that would allow delivering the next generation of products and services that satisfy global appetite for sustainability.

This could result in the development of new business models that promote environmentally-friendly working practices and interfaces with a broad range of stakeholders and society at large.

Polina Baranova is a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management at the University of Derby

For more information about studying an MBA with the University of Derby, go to:

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