Reflection from Friedemann Schulze-Fielitz, Associate Director of the EFMD GN Americas

Georgina O’Brien, Cultivating a love for lifelong learning

The world is made up of different kinds of learners: Some of us absorb information by doodling out mind maps and looking at beautifully designed infographics; others can spend days poring through tomes; while some may prefer getting hands-on experience to pick up a new skill.

“The life cycle of any given skill today is just around three to five years,” reveals Georgina O’Brien, head of sales for LinkedIn Learning Asia and a panellist at the upcoming Business Education Jam: Singapore 2018.

“The business education industry will be heavily focused on upskilling and reskilling, and we will explore how we can support to improve a student’s relevance to the work force, and how we can help with on-demand learning.”

Speakers at the Business Education Jam, held at SMU on 28 August, will no doubt wax lyrical about the role of technology in the transformation of education. And one-way technology could enhance the learning experience is by complementing, not usurping, the current mode of quality brick-and-mortar learning conducted by members of faculty with the industry and academic know-how to enable current competencies in business school students.

Launched last year, LinkedIn Learning is an online platform with over 12,000 courses led by industry experts. It taps on LinkedIn’s 573 million members to gather information on the evolution of jobs, industries, organisations and skills in the fast-changing business world.

“It is a data driven way of learning to enhance high quality content,” explains Georgina about the platform that combines content from, the online education site acquired by LinkedIn in 2015, with the professional social network’s vast user base.

“I now know more about you and your professional life through your LinkedIn profile, and can target the specific courses relevant to your career track and future skill requirements.”

The pursuit of traditional degrees are the foundation for workers’ essential skill set, and they will perhaps choose to continue with post-graduate studies to upgrade their competencies and excel in the workforce. These channels of higher education are crucial for employees in a competitive workplace, whether they are fresh hires or seek to bolster their current positions against changes in a volatile global economy.

“What business education does is carefully formulated and well thought-out,” observes Georgina.

“We want to create that inquisitive mindset complemented by online platforms, deepening the skills that are covered in the classroom to produce true talent solutions to the industry.”

For example, Georgina suggests that online learning can serve as reinforcement for university curriculum: A student might be assigned a three-minute video that will introduce a particular topic, before going into a seminar the next day to delve deeper into the subject together with their peers and faculty. She hopes that platforms like LinkedIn Learning can support the functions of business schools by providing additional tools to promote this need for constant learning.

As of now, LinkedIn Learning covers a range of business, creative, and technical topics, including leadership soft skills, design principles, and programming. Topping the LinkedIn list of most sought-after skills are cloud and distributed computing, followed by statistical analysis and data mining, mobile development, storage systems and management, user interface design, and network and information security.

“Digital is definitely the main trend now and one that cannot be ignored,” adds Georgina.

“Besides e-learning tools, someone who is strong in soft skills like communications will soon need to also upgrade themselves and couple them with digital skills like knowledge in AI, machine learning and perhaps data analytics.”

How will the traditional model of business education be disrupted in Asia? Hear from our panel comprising of Gerry George – Dean of the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Georgina O’Brien – Head of LinkedIn Learning Asia, Kris Sasitharan – Global HR Business Partner, Standard Chartered Bank and Jason Lawrence – Director of Market Development in North Asia from GMAC in the Business Education Jam: Singapore 2018.

 Join us on Facebook Live this 28 August 2018, 4pm SGT.

Boston University Questrom School of Business Reports Findings from Global Brainstorm to Improve Business Education

BOSTON (April 8, 2015) —Boston University Questrom School of Business announced the release of its report providing findings from the unprecedented Business Education Jam, focused on revolutionizing the future of management education.

“Reimagining Business Education: A World of Ideas” summarizes findings from the Business Education Jam and provides next steps for business schools to consider as they strive to remain relevant, broaden their reach, and increase their level of respect with employers. A number of areas are highlighted: enhancing value for students and business, producing relevant research, embracing technology, supporting millennials, collaborating with industry, fostering ethics, developing next-generation entrepreneurs, and revamping rankings.

The Business Education Jam was conducted last fall with almost 4,000 participants from 40 industries and more than 300 hundred academic institutions, and 93 countries. During the course of 60 consecutive hours, participants from industry and academia logged on to IBM’s online platform to discuss and crowdsource ideas to improve business education in a dramatically changing world.

“For the first time, industry and academia from around the world came together—deans, administrators, executives, human resource and talent development leaders, students, and recent graduates—to share, learn, and envision the future of business education,” said Kenneth W. Freeman, Allen Questrom Professor and Dean at the Questrom School of Business. “This was not your typical academic conference, because we brought employers, a vital beneficiary of our educational efforts, to the forefront.”

Recent presentations at conferences sponsored by AACSB, EFMD, and GMAC demonstrate the intense desire of business school deans around the world to make positive change to better support the needs of employers. IBM’s analytics helped highlight the most significant Jam findings, which are leading to the development of specific actions to innovate business education at business schools around the world. These include:

  • Enhancing value for students, employers, and society
  • Creating business school research that drives insights for business
  • Adapting business education to utilize new delivery technologies
  • Determining how best to deal with policy, accreditation, and rankings
  • Establishing close collaboration among business education and industry to develop critical leadership and management competencies
  • Identifying ways to tap the potential of millennials
  • Fostering ethical leadership skills across business education and industry
  • Developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators

“We expect that the report will stimulate participants and others interested in business education to expand their networks, collaborate on solutions, and gain new insights that will inform their own professional focus in industry and academia alike,” Dean Freeman said.

On March 30, 2015, the School of Management was renamed the Questrom School of Business, in recognition of the largest gift in Boston University history, from Allen and Kelli Questrom and the Allen & Kelli Questrom Foundation. Allen Questrom, a 1964 graduate of the School, is a retailing industry icon having successfully transformed several of the nation’s largest department and specialty stores, including JCPenney Company.

“We are honored to become the Questrom School of Business,” Dean Freeman said. “Through their generous gift, Allen and Kelli Questrom demonstrate their desire to keep business education innovatively moving forward, which the Jam itself symbolizes.”

The Questrom School will continue to seek new partnerships to further innovation in business education and unite leaders in industry and academia. Interested organizations can visit for more information on how to get involved. Other efforts include hosting a conference to review Jam findings and identify next steps in bridging the interests of academia and industry, launching webinars in collaboration with the Financial Times, and conducting additional events with broader global participation in 2016.


Through a series of 10 discussion forums, including topics such as “Engaging New-Generation Students & Employees” and “Harnessing Digital Technology,” the Jam enabled participants to engage in a free-flowing convergence of ideas on how to transform business education. Participants used a variety of digital tools to prompt conversation including polls, word clouds, and real-time chats with featured VIP guests, who posted comments, responded to questions, offered insight, and sparked dialogue. Among the 99 VIPs were 17 CEOs, 18 higher education deans, and six of the Thinkers50 top management thinkers.

In addition to Boston University Questrom School of Business, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) presented the Business Education Jam. The Financial Times was the designated global media sponsor.

Collaborators included IBM, Santander, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), and Boston University Human Resource Policy Institute. Ernst & Young, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and Fidelity Investments provided additional support.

For more information, visit


Boston University Questrom School of Business prepares and empowers leaders and innovators to anticipate change, harness it, and to positively affect society. The Questrom School and its faculty focus on bridging research and practice in providing students with core business skills, insight, and relevant experiences to master the forces transforming the global economy. These include: digital technology, social enterprise and sustainability, and health and life sciences. The Questrom School of Business offers a broad array of undergraduate, graduate, part-time, executive, and doctoral programs.

Learn more at

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research.  With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States.  BU consists of 17 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission.  In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

L. Kevin Cox, Chief Human Resources Officer, American Express Company

Thurs 10/2, 7am – 8am EST
Forum: Supporting 21st Century Competencies

Kevin Cox is the Chief Human Resources Officer at American Express. He is the primary architect of the company’s human capital plan and related strategies that focus on making American Express one of the most financially successful and respected companies in the world.

Kevin has been a leader in Human Resources for more than two decades. His expertise lies in the fields of organizational effectiveness, talent management, and driving large-scale complex change.

He joined American Express in 2005 after 16 years at Pepsi-Cola and the Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG), where he held positions leading strategy, business development, technology, and Human Resources. He played a significant role in the successful initial public offering of PBG in 1999.

Kevin is a member of the board of directors of CEB as well as Kraft Food Group, where he is chair of the compensation committee.

He is active in a number of professional HR organizations, serving on the boards of the Human Resources Policy Association, the National Academy of Human Resources, and the Cornell University Center for Advanced Human Resources studies.

Kevin is a frequent speaker on strategy, building organizational capability and increasing the role and influence of Human Resources in global businesses.

He holds a Master’s of Labor and Industrial Relations from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Marshall University.

He is an active member of his community in Connecticut, where he and his family enjoy their involvement with a wide range of charitable organizations. His hobbies include golf, weightlifting, and listening to an eclectic collection of music.


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Jamie P. Merisotis, President and CEO, Lumina Foundation

Wed 10/1 4pm – 5pm EST
Forum: Supporting 21st Century Competencies

Jamie P. Merisotis is president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation committed solely to enrolling and graduating more students from college.  Under his leadership, Lumina employs a strategic, outcomes-based approach in pursuing the Foundation’s mission of expanding college access and success particularly among low-income, minority and other historically underrepresented populations.  Lumina’s goal is to ensure that, by 2025, 60 percent of Americans hold high quality degrees, certificates and other credentials—up from the current level of less than 40 percent.

Before joining Lumina in 2008, Merisotis founded and served 15 years as president of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Higher Education Policy, one of the world’s premier education research and policy centers.  He previously served as executive director of the National Commission on Responsibilities for Financing Postsecondary Education, a bipartisan commission appointed by the U.S. president and congressional leaders. Merisotis also helped create the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps), and serves on numerous national and international boards of directors, including Bates College in Maine, Anatolia College in Greece, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

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David Weil, PhD, Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, United States Department of Labor, Peter and Deborah Wexler Professor of Management, Boston University Questrom School of Business (On Leave)

Wed 10/1, 10:30am – 11:30am EST
Forum: Fostering Ethical Leadership

David Weil was sworn in as the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division on May 5, 2014. Dr. Weil is an internationally recognized expert in public and labor market policy; regulatory performance; industrial and labor relations; transparency policy; and supply-chain restructuring and its effects.

Prior to this appointment, Dr. Weil has served as professor of economics and Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Boston University Questrom School of Business. He also served as co-director of the Transparency Policy Project at the Ash Institute at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has written three books on labor market policy, including the recently published The Fissured Workplace. He has authored numerous articles and publications in a variety of economics, public policy, management, and industrial relations journals and books, as well as numerous publications in non-academic outlets.

No stranger to the Department’s mission or its work, Dr. Weil has served as an adviser to both the Wage and Hour Division and to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as to a number of other government agencies. He also has served as mediator and adviser in a range of labor union and labor/management settings across the globe. In addition to his work for the Department, his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, among others.

Dr. Weil received his B.S. at Cornell University and M.A. and Ph.D. in public policy at Harvard University.

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Ulrich Hommel PhD, Director of Research & Surveys, Senior Advisor in the Quality Services Department, EFMD

Wed 10/1, 9am – 10am EST
Forum: Producing Research with Impact

Ulrich Hommel is Full Professor of Finance in the Department of Finance & Accounting at EBS Business School. He heads the Endowed Chair of Corporate Finance & Higher Education Finance and is the Director of the Strategic Finance Institute. Ulrich Hommel holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has been awarded his Habilitation in Business Administration at the WHU, Germany. His current research focuses on corporate risk management as well as higher education management and financing.

Before joining EBS, he was an Assistant Professor of Finance at the WHU from 1994 to 1999. Ulrich Hommel has been Dean from 2000 to 2002 and has subsequently held the position of Rector and Managing Director from 2003 to 2006 of the European Business School (predecessor of EBS Business School). In the past, he has held visiting appointments at Stockholm Business School (Stockholm University), Stephen M. Ross School of Business (University of Michigan), Krannert Questrom School of Business (Purdue University) and Bordeaux Business School.

Next to his academic work, Ulrich Hommel is the Director of Research & Surveys at the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) in Brussels. He is also a Senior Advisor in the Quality Services Department of EFMD and, in that role, a member of the management team for the EQUIS and EPAS accreditation systems.

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Richard Straub, PhD, President & CEO, Peter Drucker Society Europe, Senior Advisor IBM Global Education Industry, Director of Corporate Services & EU Affairs, EFMD

Wed 10/1, 9am-10am EST
Forum: Challenging the Business Model of Education

In his 32 years with IBM Dr. Richard Straub has held key international executive positions such as Deputy General Manager for PC Europe and Global Chief Learning Officer. Since 2006 he has started a new career working with non-profit organizations – as part time executive and as social entrepreneur. He is currently executive committee member at the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and Secretary General of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG).  In addition he holds a strategic advisory role for the IBM Global Education Industry.
In 2008 he founded the Peter Drucker Society of Austria and in 2010 the Peter Drucker Society Europe as non-profit organizations. He is the president of both. The Peter Drucker Society has as its mission to be a catalyst for the improvement of Management as a vital role in modern society. As the crystallizing yearly event the Drucker Society organizes the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna – the sixth edition will be held in November 2014. 

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The call for innovation in business education

By Kenneth Freeman
Allen Questrom Professor and Dean, Boston University Questrom School of Business
Also published in the Summer 2014 issue of People&Strategy

We are in the midst of a transformational age of information – and business education has fallen behind. Today’s business students enjoy networking capabilities that the last generation’s corporations would have envied, expect global outreach to be at their fingertips, and many of them care more about making a difference than about making money. Yet our institutions still use the same curriculum models that emerged in the business school heyday of the mid-twentieth century.

While the costs of education are higher than ever, the MBA degree no longer holds the same cachet for employers, who are interested in hiring graduates with a broader skill set. Full-time applicants for the MBA degree dropped steadily for four years in a row, dropping by 22 percent in 2012 alone (Korn, 2012).[1] This signals a great discrepancy between what graduate programs are offering and what employers and students are seeking. While graduate programs across the country face declining numbers, enrollment in undergraduate business programs is ballooning. At Boston University alone, we’ve seen an 87 percent increase in applications to the Questrom School of Business since 2010.

At this complex time in business higher education, business schools can not afford to be complacent about their place in academia.  Boston University Questrom School of Business just  turned 100 and we, and many other older business schools, didn’t get here by playing it safe. Longevity was hard-won by forerunners who created new paths forward. To succeed for a second century, we need to understand what businesses need from business schools, cast a critical eye on our long-established models, and use this upheaval to redefine and reestablish the value of a business education.

This isn’t a challenge we should tackle alone.  The big questions with massive impact on the future of business education deserve thoughtful input from all of our biggest customers and stakeholders: Chief Human Resource Officers, hiring managers and other employers of business school graduates, as well as leading scholars, researchers, students, and everyone who has an interest in business education.

To spark the next era of innovation in business education – and ensure that we are preparing graduates for a world that will continue to shift beneath their feet – we must bring together many voices.   That is why Boston University Questrom School of Business is partnering with IBM to present the Business Education Jam: Envisioning the Future. This sixty-hour virtual online event, from September 30 – October 2, 2014, is unprecedented in higher education.

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