Entrepreneurship: the magic word
Entrepreneurship is like a magic word. Everyone knows what it is but there isn’t a specific formula to become an entrepreneur. Creativeness, boldness, perseverance, networking are essential ingredients for an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have to venture into the market either with a new product or service, or with an upgraded version of an already existing one. Entrepreneurs also know, or they should, that the first try is not always successful and that creating a good contact network is essential to generate a pool of potential clients and to develop an advisory network.
Some people believe that entrepreneurs are born and not made.
However, MBA schools need to adapt to new global employment conditions where it is urgent to reduce youth unemployment. If governments cannot provide jobs to solve this problem, then b-schools should prepare students to become employers. Entrepreneurs are equally valuable as part of organizations, known as intrapreneurs as they propose outside-the-box action plans.
First: Polish your soft skills
Business schools already provide hard skills, but soft skills such as critical thinking, group work and leadership development is only being developed by a select group of schools. According to Amy Rosen, President and CEO of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, “we should also invest in teaching them the mindset, coupled with the skills, to be innovators and entrepreneurs. Developing the ability to recognize opportunity and giving young people the tools to capitalize on those opportunities empowers them to take ownership of their future in ways which directly link education to real-world success.”
Along these lines, INCAE launched the MBA CAMP, a new modality that encourages an entrepreneurial mindset in students. Through several modules of experience-based learning, students are able to apply the business backbone in emerging markets. Through intense group work sessions, students acquire a set of values and the capacity to reflect upon experiences. The main objective is for student to learn through practical experiences that compliment theoretical concepts. For example, in Survival Camp, students work through the night to propose a real-life solution for a company. The company owners then decide which group proposes the best alternative. This way, students can experience a scenario with similar pressures to work life and they bring forth creative and practical solutions. Moreover, throughout the 12-month program, there is a transversal focus on the development of soft skills. An additional life skills CAMP module further develops leadership and managerial abilities.
Innovation: powering entrepreneurship
Innovate the way business is done. Other than business development, entrepreneurship is highly correlated with innovation. INCAE is a pioneer in creating links between academia, public and private sector and civil society. Professors, though their consultancies, engage proactively with public and private sector and at times students are involved. For example, one of the consultancies directed by an INCAE professor, has a governmental entity as a main client. However, a multinational corporation is key for an effective outcome. The final product will be converted into a case study for future students.
INCAE also promotes connectivity and inter-sectorial communication. When President Obama visited Costa Rica, INCAE hosted the Central American Forum with the region’s presidents, business leaders, students, Global Shapers and other representatives from civil society. Such initiatives promote dialogue between sectors and teach students that there is no single way for a successful business and that is essential to engage with society.
Students have also taken the lead to integrate entrepreneurship into their MBA experience. A passionate group of students created the Entrepreneurship Club to promote sustainability in Latin American companies. Through a series of activities, such as conferences and job fairs, they aim to engage with business leaders, NGOs and other universities and create awareness amongst students.
The real value behind business schools lies in their ability to continue to innovate and keep ahead of market trends to attract the talent that is demanding these changes. By integrating leadership, teamwork, critical thinking, business schools are promoting universal skills vital for the next generation of change-makers in emerging markets.