Leading the way to MBA milestone
An Adelaide MBA graduate who has been part of the business community for more than 25 years, new Director of the MBA Program, Damian Scanlon, brings a unique perspective to the Business School. In this Q&A, Damian speaks about his past at the University - and his vision for the future as the MBA Program looks towards a 50-year milestone.
Q. In 1993, you graduated with a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Adelaide. In the time since, what aspects of your degree have you drawn on most in your career?
A. The Adelaide MBA is anchored in the fundamentals of general management, including the latest theories and best practices in business - from accounting and finance to marketing and strategy, leadership and innovation. The rigorous curriculum provided me with a basic framework of qualitative, quantitative, strategic and problem-solving skills. I draw on these skills every day. The Adelaide MBA also provided me with an invaluable lifelong network.
Q. What are your most vivid memories of the University of Adelaide at that time?
A. Unequivocally, it was the rich learning environment of highly motivated and bright students with great teachers. It could be intense but we also had fun.
Q. How has MBA shaped your career and the way you view the world?
A. The Adelaide MBA not only provided me with a set of competencies, it also gave me the confidence that I was well equipped to face the challenges one encounters in business on a daily basis. In viewing the world, I am continually inspired to see how we can make the "whole greater than the sum of its various parts"; that really is the value-add of great businesses and human interactions.
Q. What do you see as the strengths of the Adelaide MBA Program today?
A. The Adelaide Business School has AACSB accreditation and only 5% of business schools worldwide [including Harvard, Stanford and INSEAD] have this prestigious accreditation. This means that we need to be continually benchmarked against world's best practice.
Q. In the three months since your appointment, what has been the most rewarding part of your role as Adelaide MBA Director? And conversely, the biggest challenge?
A. Despite having been here for such a short time, I can honestly say it is very rewarding being part of the University community. We have some wonderful staff and our students bring so much diverse insight and experience to the program. My biggest challenge is to continually attract the best students and offer a world-class MBA that remains contemporary for today's challenges and relevant for tomorrow's unknown opportunities.
Q. What do you bring to the role as Adelaide MBA Director?
A. Coming from the corporate sector, I bring a new perspective that I think provides a good balance in the Business School. Having been part of the business community in Australia for close to 25 years, I look at issues and opportunities from a perspective gained as a senior manager. I am also acutely aware of what business is looking for in our MBA graduates.
Q. What advice would you give to people considering undertaking an MBA at the University of Adelaide to further their career?
A. An Adelaide MBA is hard work and the commitment needs careful consideration of work and family. However, it really is an investment in your future as the skills, knowledge and insights gained, plus the invaluable network, will provide dividends throughout your life.
Q. With our geographical location amidst the rapidly-growing Asian economies, what are the challenges and opportunities for the future of the Adelaide MBA program?
A. There is significant opportunity for employers and ambitious managers to position themselves to take advantage of these projected economic opportunities and future transformations in our region, and the world more generally. For employers, this means recognising it's never too early to start encouraging senior managers to gain postgraduate qualifications, and recognising that with an MBA they will be instrumental in streamlining, restructuring or adapting activities in the new environment.
Our graduates will be developing new products, setting strategic visions and training existing personnel. We know that they will be the vital industry leaders of tomorrow.
Q. In 2013, the Adelaide MBA Program celebrates 50 years. List some key words that you hope will accurately describe the MBA course 50 years from now.
A. Fresh-thinking, world-class teaching, leading-edge technology platforms and teaching facilities, rigorous curriculum, integrating knowledge with application through experiential learning, global, knowledge creation, innovation, leadership. Watch this space!