KNOWLEDGE INNOVATION

Jamaica 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Michael Williams, Acting Executive Director of Mona School of Business and Management, on maintaining quality across its programs, its achievements in the Caribbean, and the school's research-based approach.

 Michael Williams
BIOGRAPHY
Michael Williams is the Former Deputy Dean of the faculty of social sciences, Mona and former Director for the Western Jamaica Campus. Given his management and administrative skills, he was responsible for establishing the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, Western Jamaica Campus in Montego Bay. As former Academic Director and former Unit Head for accounting and finance, he transformed the accounting programs at Mona. The accounting programs at UWI are the leading accounting programs at the tertiary level in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Could you elaborate on your activities as a business school?

The Mona Institute of Business started nearly 30 years ago as an initiative between UWI and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The institute evolved over time to become the Mona School of Business (MSB) offering only graduate programs, while the university offered undergraduate business and management programs through the department of management studies (DOMS). In 2012, a decision was made to merge MSB and DOMS to become the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM). The merger has been successful and it is doing well. MSBM is now the largest business and management school in the Caribbean. We are a company limited by guarantee, so we are separate and independent, while still being part of the university. UWI has a robust quality assurance mechanism to maintain quality across its institutions. For example, our MBA program was recently re-accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). We are currently the only business school in the Caribbean with five years accreditation. Eduniversal International has consistently ranked MSBM programs in the top 20 in Latin America and the Caribbean region. In 2017, we had quality assurance training for all members of staff. We want to ensure that we have continuous improvement and that MSBM is at the cutting edge for all our programs.

How does Mona contribute to Jamaica's economy?

We have academic programs for undergraduates and graduates. We offer executive education with short courses for professional executives and management training. We regularly hold seminars and forums engaging parties from outside the university on various topics. We have our own applied research publication called The MSBM Business Review. We frequently interact with public and private sector organizations. MSBM also has a strong alumni network, so there is an ongoing connection between the school and its graduates. Being a part of UWI means we are also aware that this is a regional university with four campuses: three physical and one virtual. We are thus able to reach not just Jamaica, but the wider Caribbean, because we are part of the UWI family. We have made a significant contribution in terms of educating the population. We have recently introduced some new programs, such as our master of science in corporate finance and another in logistics and supply chain management because Jamaica is working to become a logistics hub. We also offer a master of science in marketing and data analytics and another in procurement management. MSBM has trained many executives across various sectors. For our doctor of business administration, we have had several executives from the National Commercial Bank (NCB) graduate from this program.

How does the Mona School of Business and Management differentiate itself from other business schools in the region?

A key difference between Mona and other local business schools is that we do far more research, both pure research for academic publication and applied research. This is important because we are then able to provide the new knowledge that is used for innovation. Historically, a great deal of the research we used came from outside of Jamaica. However, we have come to realize over the years that context matters. Therefore, we are leading the way in doing Caribbean specific research. For example, we recently partnered with NCB to conduct specialized research on corporate transformation. We not only produced academic publications out of that project, but also provided the financial services sector with new knowledge specific to that sector. Before that research, Caribbean financial services were lumped in with the broader Latin American space, so they had lost their unique identity. Mona and NCB's research is the first on Caribbean financial services. A great deal of the work we generate is being used by the business community.