CEO Middle East meets Francois Ortalo-Magne, Dean of the London Business School, to discuss how the institution can provide value to students facing a slowing global economy
We live in unprecedented times where global business is at its most interconnected, finely balanced by what happens in Shanghai and New York and everywhere in between. Yet the background for such a vibrant new world is global economic slowdown.
In fact, the IMF has downgraded growth for 2019 to 3 percent, its slowest pace since the global financial crisis.
There are factors weakening the opportunities for broad growth across the world including rising trade barriers and increasing geopolitical tensions. However, while growth in emerging market and developing economies has also been revised down to 3.9 percent for 2019 (compared to 4.5 percent in 2018) owing in part to trade and domestic policy uncertainties, and to a structural slowdown in China, the indicators suggest that global growth will improve in 2020 thanks to the drive from economies, such as the UAE, that are projected to experience a growth rebound to 4.6 percent.
However, François Ortalo-Magné, dean of the London Business School, is a firm believer in the effect that academic institutions – and in particular business schools – can have on reinvigorating and re-imagining the way the world can manage these challenges.
“Of course, these are challenging times the world over but these are often the times when institutions can help the world evolve. Whether it is disruptive technologies or cultural shifts, we’re seeing a whole new way to do business and the opportunity is endless. London Business School chose Dubai as a location to house a campus thanks to its ability to bring so many different cultures together who are primed to think differently. Using our world-class education to help them think differently about the opportunities out there makes me confident in the future,” says Ortalo-Magné.
One of the world-class thinkers at London Business School helping to shift perceptions about the nature of business and leveraging the challenges into opportunities is Michael G Jacobides, Professor of Strategy.
Jacobides’ work consistently underlines the importance of economic ecosystems in shifting the way companies do business – less sector and industry specific and more laterally across industries much like an intricate, interconnected web. His work has centred on the convergence of three big structural changes in the global economy.
Firstly, the general trend for regulations has receded the protection companies once had over the exclusive privilege of serving particular customer needs. As a result, organisations in other domains are free to partner to provide more integrated offerings. The second change is a blurring of the separation between products and services because of regulatory changes and digitisation. And thirdly, change involves technology that is revolutionising how firms can serve their customers.
The dependence on mobile devices, along with the internet’s influence on buying patterns, has dramatically expanded the possibilities for linking previously unrelated goods and services.
“Professor Jacobides’ work on ecosystems is an example of the way we’re trying to help our students think differently and to be ambassadors for this kind of change. Shifting ecosystems are emblematic of our modern global economy and these broad trends mean businesses and individuals have to rethink how they approach business. At London Business School we see the opportunity in these times and the importance of focussing on a truly global, interconnected outlook,” Ortalo-Magné explains.
Whether a student is based in Dubai or London, the school has a focus on providing global perspectives and experiences that will help to develop leaders that shape business in any part of the world.
“Another example of producing students positioned to shape the future of business is our Global Immersion Field Trips (GIFTs). These trips expose our students to the key themes of entrepreneurship, sustainability and social impact, and are an immersive and transformative part of the learning experience,” continues Ortalo-Magné.
One further method for giving individuals a truly global outlook is London Business School’s Global Business Consortium (GBC), one of the world’s foremost learning consortia for businesses. Since its inception more than 20 years ago, over 700 leaders have experienced the transformational power of the consortium, building the intra-organisational networks, the frameworks and the applied tools to solve business problems and lead in the kind of uncertainty we see today.
Delegates are selected each year from six highly diversified member organisations. They convene to exchange perspectives on shared business dilemmas, forging solutions to their own individual challenges.
“We have seen both Dubai Ports World and Emirates participate in the Global Business Consortium. These organisations have taken a look at unique challenges they are facing and look to learn how to overcome these through interaction and experience. Based on unique cultural challenges, London Business School tailored learning modules to these organisations.
"In 2017, for example, we took one group to Ethiopia and Kenya where Mars, Incorporated – the American global manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products – has a number of large facilities.
Mars hosted this group and provided their expertise on developing positive cross-organisational cultures. The same group also wanted to know how to harness Big Data and to that end we brought them together with Oracle in order to learn how this leader in Big Data ensures its customers and itself leverage information beneficially,” says Ortalo-Magné.
These programmes and London Business School’s genuine global outlook has allowed its Dubai Campus to utilise the diverse cultures attracted to the emirate and help them become agents for transformation.
“Already half of the students in Dubai are commuters and around 20 percent are from Africa, North Africa, South Africa, and India, but we are now also seeing a growing number from Russia and Europe.
London Business School’s Dubai Campus has already shown in the 12 years since its establishment that the city and the UAE are forward looking. It brings students with the same attitude to its doorstep and it is this spirit that will help to drive the growth that will balance and improve our global economy,” adds Ortalo-Magné.
And here is where Ortalo-Magné sees the true benefits of a global outlook and a school with the profile of LBS. With Dubai at the forefront of the type of culture, spirit and change the world will need to balance the new dynamics and ecosystems of this global economy, schools like London Business School will be pivotal in shaping the next generation in a world characterised by permanent change and connection.