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Business School Briefing: MBA webinar, McKinsey turmoil, dispute resolution


Welcome to Business School Briefing. We offer you insights from Andrew Hill and Jonathan Moules, and the pick of top stories being read in business schools. Edited by Wai Kwen Chan and Andrew Jack.


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Andrew Hill’s management challenge

“Trouble on Mount Olympus”, as the FT’s editorial put it, is the big management story this week: McKinsey, the embattled consultancy that sits at the peak of the industry, is suffering leadership turmoil. Kevin Sneader, the incumbent global managing partner, failed to win re-election, after having to handle a series of blows to the firm’s reputation.

As I have written, leading partnerships is hard at the best of times, requiring a subtle combination of authority and (not too much) power. For my management challenge, here’s the question that the FT editorial tried to tackle: what should McKinsey advise McKinsey to do? Send your concise strategy (no PowerPoint decks please) to [email protected].

In further reading, a compelling profile of Shopify, Canada’s most valuable company, by The Globe and Mail’s Sean Silcoff. He paints an interesting picture of co-founder Tobi Lutke’s idiosyncratic and occasionally abrasive management style. The ecommerce platform for independent merchants is starting to worry Amazon, but Lutke assesses his company like this: “I know it works well, but it’s still terrible. It can get significantly better.”

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

Classes in dispute resolution are gaining popularity and helped one MBA graduate survive a life or death situation as I write in this article: Negotiation skills prove their real-world worth.

This week, I recommend some further listening: a discussion about the business case for diversity between David Thomas, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, his colleague, HBS professor Robin Ely and Katherine Klein, vice dean for the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.

They stress the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace, but say simply replacing white male employees with women and those from traditionally under-represented groups is too simplistic and does not lead to real change or improve financial performance. Strategies for inclusion need to go much deeper.

Data line

Since 2017, nearly one in five MBA alumni have started their own company according to an FT survey, writes Sam Stephens. The most popular sectors where graduates are launching start-ups are in consultancy and e-commerce.

Line chart of Percentage of MBA alumni who launched start-ups in various industries. These graduates responded to an annual FT ranking survey from 2016 to 2020. showing What are the most popular MBA start-up sectors?

There has been a consistent drop in MBA alumni starting a business in finance/banking over the past five years. Alumni surveyed in 2020, the 2021 data point, were asked if their company had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The worst-hit sector was retail, with nearly a third of companies started by alumni in this industry were affected.

Further analysis exploring the MBA alumni entrepreneurs can be found here.

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Top business school reads

Warren Buffett warns of ‘bleak future’ for debt investors ‘Bonds are not the place to be these days’ Berkshire Hathaway chief tells shareholders in his annual letter

Nasdaq slides 3.5{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} as government bond rout accelerates Tech stocks have worst day since October as 10-year Treasury yield rises above 1.5{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca}

‘It needs to change its culture’: is McKinsey losing its mystique? Managing partner Kevin Sneader wants to close the ‘dark chapter’ of an opioid scandal but he needs to rebuild trust in the firm

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