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A Stronger MBA Post Pandemic?

Each year we at Admitify like to look at some of the more interesting new MBA courses being rolled out by top schools. In this Covid year a clear theme emerged: managing and leading in a crisis. COVID has provided a real-world case study that encompasses issues as varied as remote work/employees, wide-spread supply chain disruptions, and closed borders. At Harvard Business School, for example, Willy Shih’s first-year students (“Technology and Operations Management”) are analyzing the Covid-affected management decisions of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Other HBS courses are analyzing how Zoom and Airbnb shifted their marketing strategies due to Covid, and another features Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruise Lines, sharing insights on how to manage during a crisis while maintaining one’s mental well-being.

At Wharton, Mauro Guillén has updated his case studies to include Spotify, which has changed its business model as a direct result of the pandemic lockdown. All incoming Wharton MBAs and EMBAs are taking a new online course “Leadership in Challenging Times” featuring guest speakers like the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Anheuser-Busch, and Vail Resorts discussing how they responded to 2020. William Lauder (executive chairman of Estée Lauder) is co-teaching the course with legendary Professor Michael Useem.

At Columbia, Kathryn Harrigan’s students (“Turnaround Management”) are debating the challenge of factory modernization in response to Covid at Smithfield Foods Inc., the largest pork producer in the U.S. INSEAD Professor Prashant Yadav has seen students increasingly interested in case studies about drug supply scarcity and ways to fund pandemic-related production and distribution, and INSEAD’s new advanced negotiations course includes the challenges of discussing high-stakes issues via Zoom.

In addition to these new classes, business schools are reaching out robustly to the business community with free online materials and webinars related to Covid. For instance, LBS has created “Leading Through a Pandemic,” a collection of online materials, as well as a series of “Pandemic Lectures”; Wharton’s “Coronavirus Course Discussions” is a series of Wharton faculty and alumni interviews; HBS has a collection of “Resources to Lead Effectively Through COVID-19”; INSEAD has launched “Navigating the Turbulence of Covid-19” as part of its Lifelong Learning series; and York Schulich’s “Shaping the Post-Pandemic World” webinar series features cross-disciplinary thought leaders on its faculty.

Admitify salutes business schools and MBA students for proactively grappling with the challenges and opportunities of this annus horribilis.

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