How an MBA gives you the strategic edge as businesses transform

  • July 18, 2023
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 4 minute read

There’s no denying that technology is integral to the workplace. Nearly every company relies on it somehow, from simple tasks to large-scale projects, and companies have been heeding the call to embrace a “tech-first” outlook for years. Steps like digitalization and digital transformation­ have become standard, but as a result, this means that digital skills and innovative leadership have become essential for the future of all industries.

The business landscape is indeed changing, and technology is leading the way. Major developments will transform businesses even more in the near future. These changes will fundamentally impact how businesses are structured. Given the pace and significance of these changes, the value of an MBA degree is clear.

  • More personalization for the customer. Anticipating what customers want has always been important, and big data and artificial intelligence make the process even easier. Right now, this process is confined to the digital space, such as targeted ads that follow you from website to website. As curated shopping experiences become a customer expectation, however, this kind of personalization will migrate into the physical world.
  • Robotization of work. The rise in robotics will continue to change what happens in physical spaces where customers and companies interact—just consider the popularity of self-checkout machines. As robotics improve in other sectors, people are going to expect better customer experiences across the board.
  • Efficient data-sharing systems. As we enrich experiences by trying to involve more people, businesses will use data sharing in a much more dynamic way. This might look like the creation of a user interface that easily migrates people into a shared environment.

Becoming a successful leader requires an understanding of technological advances and their impact. An MBA from Olin Business School is designed to give students the skills to recognize those advances and respond with confidence.

New essential leadership skills and the value of an MBA degree

Business leaders can’t ignore changes in technology, and an MBA degree helps students develop the language and skills to work with those big changes.

Start with the importance of problem-solving. It’s easy to rely on smart technology systems with their vast capabilities for fixing mistakes. But this leads to a “back of the house” mentality. Instead, leaders need to develop an active approach to problem-solving—something that can be developed through experience in an MBA program.

When it comes to digitalization, MBA and digital transformation also go hand-in-hand. Businesses need to use the latest technology to improve customer experience and stay competitive. Leaders are going to need to consider the reality of how they can use technology to their advantage—are they using data to benefit employees and customers?

These advances in technology can unfortunately allow businesses to go from enabling to exploiting their customers and employees if they’re not being mindful of the ethics. Data tracking for a personalized shopping experience can be useful, but there’s a fine line between helping and harming the customer. Leaders must think carefully about the ethical dilemmas that come with advancements in technology, no matter whom it concerns.

How Olin creates leaders

The value of an MBA degree lies in preparation and practice. To that end, Olin is finding exciting ways to practice the skills future leaders will need to adapt and succeed. We describe our program as global, entrepreneurial, and data-driven—what we’d consider the building blocks of innovative leadership.

One of the best ways to build successful business leaders is through experiential learning, which is a major source of learning and development for Olin students. The classroom can only take us so far. When students leave campus, they immediately practice skills that will help them adapt to big tech changes.

One way Olin does this is through a month-long experiential learning journey, traveling to places such as Barcelona or Washington, DC. This process is all about doing new things in a new way, which ultimately builds confidence and expands the student range.

It also builds agility. One of the major objectives of leadership training for students is learning how to be resilient and adaptable. When students leave their comfort zones to navigate a new environment, they discover how agile and capable they really are. 

The benefits of experiential learning in an MBA degree can’t be overstated. The confidence, range, and agility that come with real-world practice are crucial to navigating the fast pace of technological updates that students will experience as future business leaders. Between these skills and the supportive environment at Olin, students leave the program fully prepared for day one on the job.

How is an MBA valuable for your future? With leadership and technology knowledge now entwined, an MBA can provide the tools for students to be capable leaders. We believe that real-world, applicable skills gained from experiential learning will help new business leaders succeed in the technological future.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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