What are the origins of the school and how has it evolved through the years?
Initially, in 1995, the school's initial mission was to provide instruction to private bankers in Switzerland, but after changing its name officially to Geneva Business School in 2010 an expansion began. Although I am primarily responsible for the development in Spain, schools have been opened in locations which are further afield, such as Kazakhstan, Myanmar, in addition to a partnership which has been forged with the countries in the Middle East such as UAE and Saudi Arabia. Our main goal is to prepare each student for an unpredictable future, therefore we ensure that our attention is concentrated upon giving each student a very practical based education. Although we are not able to foresee what jobs will look like in the next five years, we are capable of providing students the necessary skills to take into the business sector in the future and furthermore, as a private institution, we have the opportunity to adapt more efficiently to the market needs.
So, do the skills you teach your students include adaptability and flexibility?
Yes definitely. According to the World Economic Forum by 2022, there will be 73 million job losses, yet 130 million jobs will be created. Although we are unaware of exactly what type of jobs they are referring to, Geneva Business School is able to help students grow professionally by giving them the necessary skills and tools which they will be able to take from the classroom into the working world. One skills I am talking about, for example, is critical thinking, a skill which is of great importance now and will be more sought after in the future. We do not have exams, instead we have adapted to a more project-based learning environment. Project based learning is more beneficial as it's more connected to the real working world and essentially closer to tasks students will carry out on a daily basis in their professional careers. To enhance the project-based learning, the students will have the opportunity to network and listen to business professionals who share their career experiences, successes and challenges from within the classroom, at specially organized events and field trips. At Geneva Business School we have stepped away from traditional university methodologies by being fully flexible in our approach. We are able to adapt when necessary, by being open to collaborate with our students, to listen to what they have to say, to support them in any way we possibly can and to be open to new opinions and interpretations. We have a classroom called Incubator, purposefully named as it is a space in which we harness and invest in the ideas presented by our students.
What does innovation mean for GBS?
In the past there has been a very traditional and specific style of teaching that has been ingrained within the education sector, yet I believe it is essential for an educational program to consistently develop and evolve. More recently it has become apparent that there is a gap between the fundamental information that a student should learn, and what the market actually requires of its employees. This being said, we have to ask ourselves how can we, as a business school, ensure that this gap is closed? The answer is to bring the real world into the classroom! This means breaking hierarchical boundaries between students and the professors, by creating more student to teacher, and student to student interaction, and moreover to allow interesting dialogues between students and professors in the classroom environment. At GBS we use the flipped-classroom method, meaning that we digitize all our teaching content so that students can prepare their work before coming to class. This is beneficial as during class hours they are able to focus primarily on collaborating with fellow colleagues on real projects.
I am part of the Google Innovator program, currently working as a mentor for last year's academy in Spain. To become a Google Innovator I put forward a proposal to develop an app that would give professors real-time information about the performance of their students with the aim of changing the classroom dynamic. Geneva Business School is also part of the Google Education community and thus Google is the main platform which students use to check their daily tasks. Not only does the implementation of Google mean that we are a paperless campus, but more importantly, students become very familiar with the use of all Google apps which consequently will aid them significantly when embarking on a new career path.
Why did GBS choose Barcelona, in the first place, and Spain more generally?
We started the Barcelona project in 2014. The reason to open the Barcelona campus, aside from the fact that it is a beautiful city with lovely weather and amazing people, is that it has a very entrepreneurial spirit and is therefore completely aligned to our beliefs as a business school. We started with a small group which almost immediately doubled in size and we are still growing today. In 2018 we realized that we were going to reach our maximum capacity. As Spain was such a success, we decided to open a new campus in Madrid which too has a great deal of attributes that go together with our vision. The projection for this new semester is that the school is going to triple in the number of students intakes this coming year, and we are confident that Madrid will follow the same path. Although we are ambitious we do not wish to have a school with thousands of students, we want to be a boutique business school that has a maximum intake of 300 students. Our classrooms have a capacity of 25 students, which enables us to give a more personalized support to each student. This support is continued outside of the classroom, with coaches who are on hand to provide further assistance to students from the moment they start their journey with Geneva Business School from choosing the right major, to the end of their journey when searching for internships and study abroad programs.
How do the degrees that you offer in oil and gas or sports management, for example, differ from a traditional business management degree?
The Bachelor program is in Business Administration and along side these fundamental core modules needed for a business degree, students also take a major. This means that twenty percent of their course is related to that specific major. The Sports Management major that we offer has equipped students to enter the sports industry and we have numerous success stories, including students obtaining employment at well known football clubs. It is important for us to immerse students as much as possible in the practical elements of their major. We are fortunate enough to have professors working in sports organizations, such as UEFA, and so students are given the opportunity to visit such organizations to gain a clearer understanding of the daily functionality of the business from ticketing to press conferences.
What are your objectives for 2019 for the school?
We are expanding the school on a global level, so besides from the campuses we have in Madrid and Barcelona, we have initiated a program in India for example. Our objective is also to consolidate the programs we have here in Barcelona in our Madrid campus. I believe that 2019 will definitely be a consolidation year for us, particularly for the Madrid campus. The campus in Barcelona has reached its maximum capacity and as a result we are looking to open new campuses in both Barcelona and Madrid.