With political changes around the globe, greater advances in technology and various social movements, the way the world does business is forever changing. This pace is something that many institutions like Hult International Business School have to keep up with, which is why they encourage experiential learning as part of their MBA courses. By obtaining hands-on experience, MBA graduates are better equipped to face business challenges and remain competitive and adaptable as leaders in a forever-evolving environment.
Global markets are often volatile due to influence from social, political and economic issues. MBA students therefore have to demonstrate flexibility and experience in their leadership. Many employers value job candidates with some hands-on experience under their belts, alongside their classroom learning.
Experiential learning allows business students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real life-like business scenarios. Through doing so, students learn more about themselves and their leadership style. Experiential learning also enhances students’ skills in dealing with stressful and difficult business scenarios, as well as problem-solving in managerial situations.
Experiential learning is essential for an MBA student’s personal development as an entrepreneur or manager in business. By being taken out of the classroom into a scenario that mirrors a real-life business environment, MBA candidates can reflect on their skills and realise their full potential. They are forced into situations where good communication is essential, confidence must be harnessed and social and professional etiquette must be tried.
By having these aspects of their professionalism and character tested, a candidate’s confidence should increase overall. In a Hult International Business School classroom, students are also encouraged to question business scenarios and see an issue from multiple angles. They are taught that they should not be satisfied with simply one interpretation of a situation.
Experiential learning is completely unlike the classroom and is an immersive experience. Students cannot decide to switch off or become disengaged – in the moment, they need to use all of their problem-solving and analysis skills to learn more about themselves and their leadership style. There is much personal investment in experiential learning, with many students keen to succeed and make a good impression, thereby taking responsibility for any problems that arise (whilst learning from them).
In real-life business scenarios, an MBA student can note the cause and effect of other business persons’ behaviours, analysing such outcomes and making comparisons with how they deal with situations themselves. From this, they can identify personal weaknesses in their leadership style, all the while learning integrity, harnessing accountability and cultivating self-determination.
Project management skills
Experiential learning exposes MBA candidates to scenarios in which they would be required to lead a team and harness project management, goal setting and task management skills. Team building will test how the candidate reacts to conflict resolution, leading with confidence, future planning, company strategy and managing a budget. Managing people requires a delicate balance of understanding and leadership, and experiential learning will test whether candidates have aspects of this balance already, or whether this is something they need to work on to get the most out of their team’s productivity.
Experiential learning exposes MBA candidates to important business skills like public speaking and giving presentations, obtaining the trust and respect of employees through speech, effective writing methods, how to inspire others, and how to listen when it is most important. Communication skills are also vital for conflict resolution and persuasion in business. Those who are good at communicating with others often make the best business leaders. Without good communication at the top level in business, colleagues are left uninspired, unmotivated, and projects often end up being disorganised and at risk of being unfinished. In taking a positive approach to communicating openly and effectively, MBA students will develop genuine and positive professional relationships with colleagues.
In a class with Prof. Rukare at Hult London International Business School, students are taught to respect one another’s learning styles and to not put down other students if they are learning something new. This creates an equal learning environment while encouraging a mind of curiosity. In having a background of seeing people who are disadvantaged, Prof, Rukare encourages students to take every opportunity presented to them and to develop their collaborative and communication skills by discussing the various aspects and angles to a topic with their peers.
Experiential learning isn’t just about exposing students to business scenarios that mirror reality, it also gives them an opportunity to network and create their own business opportunities. This is very important, as the business world is constantly evolving and changing. By establishing a network with other students and business leaders through experiential learning, MBA graduates are more prepared to hit the ground running once they have completed their courses, helping them to advance their careers and in turn develop better leadership skills.