Luis Escamilla

Luis Escamilla

Campus Dean & Executive Director, Hult International Business School, Dubai
Randa Bessiso

Randa Bessiso

Director, University of Manchester, Middle East Centre
Business schools in Dubai are developing the best programs to best serve the business community.

What are the school's main development and achievements in recent years?

RANDA BESSISO 2017 and 2018 has been an exciting period during which we have grown our presence in the Middle East, after rebranding the center from Manchester Business School to the University of Manchester Middle East Centre. We serve the entire Middle East region from our center in Dubai Knowledge Park from where we have supported a community of 2,300 part-time MBA students, of whom more than 1,300 have already graduated. In the Middle East, we started with a focus on the global part-time MBA degree that we offer worldwide. More recently, we have launched a master's program in international healthcare leadership and the master's of science program in reliability engineering and asset management. We are ensuring that program content is adapted to the needs of the region, whilst meeting the requirements of our international strategy, which ensures the same content and teaching standards worldwide. In addition, we are currently evaluating a range of new programs, some of which we will introduce by 2020. There is a unique opportunity right now, in which the region is changing quickly with ambitious country visions, diversifying economies and digital transformation both in public and private sectors, creating new skills gaps and career opportunities.

LUIS ESCAMILLA The Management Education Institute was founded in Boston in 1964 and was renamed Hult International Business School in 2003 after its founding benefactor, Bertil Hult. After starting a rotation program where students could study abroad in Shanghai for four months, we realized it was a great opportunity to give students exposure abroad and decided to come to Dubai in 2008. Dubai was the first full-time campus we opened outside the US, and we started with 100 MBA students in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC). In 2009, we launched a part-time executive MBA program in Dubai that was well received in the market. We were the first American school to offer a post-graduate degree in Dubai. Our executive MBA program has been a big success. We did not launch the program in our home campus of Boston first, so this was a big innovation for us and has truly exceeded our expectations. We expected to get a group of 20-30 executive MBA students; however, today we see around 250. We have been working with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) from day one to improve our standards and comply with the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) accreditation system. We moved to our current facilities in 2012 and currently have around 400 students across three programs: an executive MBA, which is the biggest one, a full-time MBA, and a master's in international business.

How do you view the need to close the skills gap between university curricula and professional requirements in knowledge-based sectors?

RB Education is a catalyst for growth, and there is a constant need to reshape, resize, and rescale the portfolio and delivery of content. There is a high level of unpredictability in the rapidly changing workplace and a need to skill and re-skill the workforce to prepare them for future jobs. We have to listen to our students and graduate communities; they are closely connected to their alma mater, and we want to make sure we maintain a lifelong relationship with our students as they design and build their own career paths. Universities will need to adapt and be on top of the latest trends so that their output is aligned with current and future requirements. Universities must also continue to collaborate with professional bodies in the private sector, making sure that curricula are relevant to the workplace. This is the basis of the Manchester Method and model of learning, the practice of learning by doing, and one of the elements that makes us different. So, we have applied programs rather than theoretical ones.

LE We work closely with the business community and partner with Ferrari, Bose, Honeywell, and L'Oréal in 2018. We ask them about their most pressing challenges that they would like our students to brainstorm and propose solutions on. Every year, this is part of the curriculum and students' credits, so they truly put their minds into it. This also helps us to understand the challenges in the region and retrofits back into our curriculum design. In 2018, we have noticed that there are few skills in the region in business big data analytics and science. Therefore, we launched a new specialization in business analytics covering this gap. We have also offered this course to our corporate partners at the master's level as a three-day basic introduction course on business statistics. They can send their employees to join this course tuition-free because we are committed to helping not only students, but also the business community in the region. In the analytics field, we will run a second course, this time on marketing analytics, including digitization. Again, we are running this for employees of companies, who we partner with, for free to continue developing talent with them in this field.